Juan Valdez Lives


Here in Colombia, there are not very many Starbucks. Instead, there are these “Juan Valdez” coffee shops everywhere, with excellent coffee and a simpler, more streamlined menu of drinks and desserts.

Starbucks used to be like this back a decade or so ago, before they became a milk-shake factory and added all kinds of salads, wraps, and other things to eat. In Juan Valdez, you can choose among twenty things or so, basic things like muffins, banana bread, and the guayaba cheesecake. But who knows, give them another decade ago and corporate momentum will have them selling quinoa and beet salads also.

It’s a bit strange to see Juan Valdez emblazoned on all these things in the cafe and on billboards. My hotel had wi-fi problems for a few days (the wind!), so I’ve been spending a few hours in various Juan Valdez cafes in the morning and then at night.

For people growing up in the 70s, we remember those absurd,  laughableTV commercials, with Juan Valdez hand picking beans, loading them on sacks, and guiding the donkey into town – just in time to hover over someone trying to wake up and offer them a steaming cup of joe.

Those commercials lent themselves to endless jokes, skits and assorted send ups..

Jim Carrey meets Juan Valdez


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