Starbucks Coffee Company last week opened the doors to its Visitor Center at Hacienda Alsacia, located on a 240 hectare (640 acres) coffee farm on the slope s of the Poas volcano, and by the end of the year will add three more coffee stores, bringing its total number in Costa Rica to 15.
Monica Bianchini, country manager, did not specify where the locations will be but confirmed that the first opening will be this month.
Current Starbucks locations are: Avenida Escazú, Lincoln Plaza, Cronos Plaza, Plaza Real Alajuela, Plaza Itskatzu, Plaza Freses, Distrito 4, Los Yoses, Plaza de la Cultura, La Sabana, the Juan Santamaría international airport and Paseo de las Flores.
Back to the farm. Hacienda Alsacia, a working farm that has served as a global research and development facility for Starbucks since 2013, is now open to the public, where visitors will have the chance to experience coffee from seed to cup and see firsthand the agronomy work the company has been supporting and investing in for more than two decades.
“Much like the premium retail experiences we are designing around the world, the Visitor Center at Hacienda Alsacia is a fully immersive space and now, for the first time ever, Starbucks is connectingour customers to the entire coffee ecosystem from seedling to the craft of brewing,” said Starbucks boss Howard Schultz who recently told The Telegraph he’s not sorry he didn’t pay more UK tax, as the poor Brooklyn kid turned coffee billionaire tipped to run for US president, is making himself a black Americano halfway up the Costa Rican volcano.
According to the Starbucks’ website, the Hacienda Alsacia was designed by Starbucks in-house design team known for creating the “third place” experience in its Starbucks stores and its premium Reserve Roasteries. This 4,270 square meter (46,000-square foot) visitor center is an experiential environment helping to educate visitors on the full coffee ecosystem. Here visitors can tour the space on their own or with a guide, discovering everything from a coffee seedling nursery to a greenhouse with new, disease-resistant coffee varietals, coffee fields with ripe cherries at harvest, in addition to a wet mill and drying patio. These hands-on experiences culminate at a Starbucks café where coffee from Hacienda Alsacia is roasted fresh onsite and served using multiple brewing methods. The menu is inspired by Starbucks premium Reserve brand.
“Our farm allows us to learn firsthand the ongoing complexities that coffee farmers face in order to accelerate our comprehensive approach to ethical sourcing,” said Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks. “Now more than ever, we must ensure the future of coffee through sustainable practices so that it is available for generations to come.”
“The coffee we drink depends on the well-being of 25 million coffee producers, 10 million hectares of coffee farms and the continued ability of nature to sustain them,” said Dr. M. Sanjayan, chief executive officer for Conservation International.
“To meet projected demand, the industry will need to produce between four million and 14 million additional tons of coffee per year. Unless growers can significantly increase coffee productivity, the industry would need to double the area under production. This would increase the current area of land under coffee production, currently about the size of Iceland, to an area that would be four times the size of Costa Rica.”
Since 2012, Starbucks has been operating stores in Costa Rica with its license partner, Premium Restaurants of America.
Costa Rican coffee has been a part of Starbucks core offerings since it opened its doors in 1971, most recently a limited-edition offering of Hacienda Alsacia single-origin packaged coffee for customers around the world.
The presence of the brand increased when it opened its first support office for producers in 2004, with the purchase of Hacienda Alsacia in 2013 and the opening of the first cafeteria on Avenida Escazú in June 2012.
Since the 2012 opening, the brand was on an accelerated expansion strategy, opening ten locations in its first three years of operation. However, during 2016 and 2017 it only opened one store per year, a behavior that must change if they want to meet their goal of having 25 stores by 2020.
On whether the increase in competition from franchises like Colombia’s Juan Valdez and locals such as Café Arte or Café Miel, Bianchini assured that in Costa Rica there is a very dynamic environment of competitors.
“Specialty coffee shops are constantly being opened, which we see with positivism, since the demand for high-quality coffees and different preparation methods is growing in the Costa Rican consumer, and at Starbucks, we can satisfy coffee consumption for all tastes,” stressed Bianchini.
Though Café Arte and Juan Valdez slowed their growth plans, both are gearing up 2018 openings.
According to Elfinancierocr.com, Café Arte is in the process of franchising the brand, that will see eight new coffee shops this year, while Juan Valdez is looking to add five this year to its four coffee shops located in City Mall, Plaza Roble, Sabana andy Terrazas Lindora.