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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Juan Valdez in New York and Thoughts on Colombian Coffee

Every day, I have the pleasure of waking up and watching WPIX, one of the two local news stations here in New York City. I always enjoy watching the antics of their anchors and today was no exception. I couldn't help but notice a guy who was standing in front of the WPIX building all dressed in white. When I took a closer look I thought, "hey, that's Juan Valdez!"  And indeed it was!  I looked the the right and thought, "hey, that's Tamsen Fadal!" And I was right. But I digress, as Juan Valdez was his usual stoic self and mostly silent self.

He was all there in his white hat, white coat, with a burlap bag slung over his shoulders.  His best accessory was his donkey. So many people couldn't resist petting his donkey that they got in the way of my shot. 

Anyhow, this had me thinking about Juan Valdez and Colombian coffee.  Colombian coffee to me is Arabica, smooth and mild in taste.  Bold Colombian blends are just Arabica beans roasted darker.  In general, I really like Colombian coffee and think Juan Valdez is just the man to sell the concept, even though it is not a brand per se. 

In New York City's Times Square, there is one Juan Valdez coffee shop, which is set up very much like Starbucks.  I've been there more than a couple of times and have been disappointed every time. (Why I go there so often is for another blog entry!)  The furniture is old, as is the poor upkeep of the store.  Although everything is branded with the Juan Valdez logo, one can't help but feel that this poor example of a store is helping to tarnish his image.  In fact, I remember the first time I went, I wanted to order a blended drink that was on their menu board, but the barista said he didn't have any! Wow, imagine Starbucks saying that to a customer!

No store can be completely bad, so I must say that Juan Valdez's coffee shop is located in a great location, a block south of Times Square and is a couple of dimes cheaper than Starbucks. It offers ample seating although on well-worn furniture.  I wish that one day, those who run Juan Valdez coffee realize the value of their brand and improve their store, especially the one in Times Square!

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