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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

Starbucks Will Go to France

France - Starbucks Coffee International announced that is has signed a joint venture agreement with Grupo Vips, a leading European food service and retail operator, to open Starbucks retail locations in France.

The first store is expected to open in Paris in early 2004, and the joint venture company, Starbucks Coffee France SAS will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business.

“We look forward to sharing our passion for high quality coffee and our commitment to outstanding customer service with local customers,” said Franck Esquerre, managing director, Starbucks Coffee France SAS. “Coupled with its strong reputation world wide as a company that deeply cares for its people and the many communities where it does business, I believe that Starbucks will be a success in France.”

Esquerre, with more than 20 years experience in the restaurant and beverage business, will provide leadership and direction for the French team in localizing and developing “The Starbucks Experience” in France.

“We have been thinking of opening in France for a long time,” said Howard Schultz, chairman, Starbucks Coffee Company. “It is with the utmost respect and admiration for the café society in France that we announce our entry into the market,” said Schultz. Grupo Vips is already Starbucks’ partner in Spain, where Starbucks has built up 16 chains in the past 18 months.

Since entering Europe two years ago, Starbucks has also extended territories to existing partners in China, Middle East, and has finalized a licensing agreement with its Taiwanese partner for expansion of territory to neighboring areas around Shanghai.

Seattle Voters Reject Espresso Tax

United States - Seattle voters have rejected a controversial, proposed 10-cent tax on espresso drinks. With 58% of precincts and all the mail-in ballots counted, the tax was opposed by 68% of voters.

Initiative sponsor John Burbank said people who can spend $3 on a latte could afford the extra change to help children. The tax would have raised millions of dollars each year for the city’s preschool and day-care programs.

“People will be very happy to purchase their tall double latte and know 10 cents are going to the children of Seattle,” Burbank said.

But coffee shop owners, including Seattle-based Starbucks, fought the tax. In fact, Jeff Babcock, owner of Zoka Coffee Roaster & Tea Company, staged a Boston Tea Party-style protest in early September, throwing coffee sacks into Seattle’s Green Lake.

“The colonists were fighting an unfair tax and we also think this is unfair and a burden,” Babcock told the National Post afterwards.

The ballot measure, Initiative 77, would not have taxed regular drip coffee, only espresso drinks.

East African Coffee Trade Show Planned

Kenya - Issues on improving quality and output are expected to dominate a meeting of fine coffee producers in Nairobi, Kenya early next year.

The meeting of the East African Fine Coffee Association (EAFCA) will also discuss ways of improving processing technology and boosting production. “Our aim is to make sure that soon, we will be able to facilitate improvement in processing technology as well as develop a modern market infrastructure system,” Fred Kawuma, the association’s executive director said in Kampala recently.

The meeting, which is slated for February 19 to 22, 2004, will be the first annual fine coffee conference and exhibition to be held in Africa. Coffee buyers and processors from across the world are expected to attend.

Kawuma said that problems in the production of specialty coffee are responsible for the continent’s poor sales. Currently, East Africa offloads about six million bags of specialty coffee on the world market, accounting for about 50% of world production.

According to Kawuma, the following countries export 98% of Africa’s specialty coffee: Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Zambia, Uganda and Malawi. This type of coffee is grown under specific conditions and fetches premium prices on the world market.



Tea & Coffee - November/December, 2003
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