(QCOSTARICA) The entry of new cafés in the country and the increased competition is seen as a positive thing by the Coffee Institute of Costa Rica (Instituto del Café de Costa Rica – Icafé), to promote greater domestic consumption and efforts by the coffee houses to offer new coffee drinks and new ways of preparing them.
The new players in the market, arriving in Costa Rica by way of franchising, are Starbucks from the U.S. and Colombia’s Juan Valdez.
The Colombian brand opened its first store in mid-May, in the Sabana Business Center, in Rohrmoser, and plans to open four more this year. Starbucks, opening its first store in 2012, has now five stores and plans to open more, but prefers not to reveal its plans.
The arrival of these two big players has not stopped the growth of national cafés, some small, operating one or two locations, while others like the El Tostador, has 24 and and with plans for more. El Tostador has stores in San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, Limon, Atenas, Grecia and Guapiles.
“A national coffee shop is not prevented from growing with the arrival of the foreign operations,” says Gerardo Araya, who has the Alma del Café located inside the Teatro Nacional.
Coffee consumption in Costa Rica is at 3.37 kilos per person annually, second to Brazil (6.03) of the coffee producing countries, according to the International Coffee Organization (ICO).
Ronald Peters, executive director of ICafé, says that the competition means retailers will offer interesting coffee drinks, then the consumer will decide where it will buy it.
Yolanda Puente, Starbucks marketing manager for Central America, says, “Starbucks welcomes the competition and is proud to have played a significant role in promoting fine coffees. We firmly believe there is sufficient room for independent shops and coffee chains, all growing and prospering along with us.”