Westernization is fueling a steady increase in world coffee consumption, says the International Coffee Organization, and Latin America is one of the regions where coffee demand is growing.
That would appear to be a trend that coffee giant Starbucks has recognized, as it plans to open another 50 outlets in Mexico in the coming year. And at least three of those will open under the new Reserve brand, selling premium coffee at premium prices.
The first of the Reserve stores opened yesterday in the Arcos Bosques shopping center in Mexico City, and more will follow in Polanco and Lomas de Chapultepec, said the company’s general manager in Mexico, Federico Tejado. Future plans call for Reserve stores in Monterrey, Guadalajara and other cities, he said.
The decision to open the premium stores was taken after the firm recognized that clients are progressively becoming more sophisticated and know more about coffee, Tejado said. Reserve is a store where customers can discover new kinds of coffee and new ways of preparing it.
There are now 1,200 of the new stores around the word, and the company plans to open another 1,500 this year.
Starbucks’ expansion in Mexico is proceeding in spite of slow economic growth: the growth is being seen instead in coffee consumption, said Tejado. The consultancy Euromonitor said per-capita consumption in Mexico was 700 grams in 2013, but the Starbucks boss says it has since grown to 1.8 kilograms.
At the new Reserve store in Mexico City, coffee connoisseurs can purchase a cup of Nicaragua Cabo Azul or Panama Carmen State for 41 pesos, about US $2.73, in the 300-milliliter size, known as “alto.”
A cup of Chiapas coffee is somewhat less at 25 pesos.
Buy the premium coffee as whole beans and the price is 219 pesos for a quarter of a kilogram. (Your correspondent can buy nearly two kilos of Oaxaca coffee for the same price.)
Meanwhile, through a Starbucks program called “We All Grow Coffee,” 60 producers in Chiapas received coffee plants donated by the firm, which gave away 180,000 plants to counter a drop in production.
Tejado said the state’s high-quality arabica coffee is important to the company since it began purchasing it 10 years ago.
However, some producers are switching to robusta in a bid to counter the devastation caused by coffee leaf rust, to which robusta is resistant. Coffee production in Mexico and Central America has plummeted in recent years because of the rust.