STARBUCKS has promoted Panama coffee in many of its outlets for many years, and is now close to joining the beans in their homeland.
Panama’s limited number of coffee shops will face a new competitor in 2015 with the opening of the first Starbucks franchise in a yet to be completed shopping mall close to Metro Plaza.
The move is part of the Starbucks Central America expansion plan which began in 2011 and to date includes outlets in El Salvador (5), Costa Rica (4) Guatemala (2), with a regional target of 20 in the coming years.
While Starbucks with a near $15 billion annual revenue has many loyal followers its pricing is a barrier to many, and it remains to be seen how it will address the issue in a country where over 50% of the population earn less than $500 a month, and spend less than the cost of a Starbucks Latte on a meal from a roadside fonda (the local version of a greasy spoon). Others have tried to create upscale coffee outlets which quietly disappeared, But the more well heeled Panamanians may be ready to be seen in the latest “in” place which will be in the new mall on the corner of Via Brazil and Via Israel. But will they, like RibaSmith which serves high quality Palo Alto, give retirees a 25% discount on a solitary order of java?
The US franchise, based in Seattle, Washington, has 21,160 stores in 63 countries.