By Jack Whibley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Starbucks’ expansion in Rio de Janeiro continued in July with the opening of a new store in Copacabana. The Cidade Maravilhosa’s newest addition to the Starbucks empire is located near the Cantagalo metro (subway) station, on Copacabana’s main thoroughfare, Avenida Nossa Senhora da Copacabana.
Perfectly situated to pick up passing trade, the store has all the usual coffees, sandwiches, and pastries one expects from a Starbucks. The comfortable seating, working areas and wifi also make it ideal for social and business meetings and fit with Starbucks’ goal of being a “third place, between work and home”.
The Starbucks press office told The Rio Times, “The store is located in one of the busiest areas of the neighborhood and in an address that is famous worldwide. For Starbucks, being in Copacabana means being in the heart of Rio.”
The spokesperson told The Rio Times that since opening, “the store has been visited increasingly by local residents keen to taste Starbucks coffee in a pleasant and calm atmosphere amid the bustle of the city center.”
The ripple of excitement generated by the store’s opening has caused some expatriates to hold ‘coffee mornings’ at the store. Christa Pickering MacInnis, who organized a recent get together for the ‘Gringos Buy & Sell‘ Facebook Group shared her views on the store with The Rio Times.
“I live very close to Starbucks Copacabana and I love it! It’s big and spacey with outdoor seating too. The snacks are fabulous and the drinks are great.” The Starbucks’ employees at the store are also helping its success, MacInnis continues, “The staff speak a bit of English, are friendly and they really try to help you out.”
Despite being a coffee powerhouse – Brazil’s industry once catered for eighty percent of the world’s demand and nowadays still produces around one third of the total global output – Brazilian consumers had to wait some time before the world’s largest coffee empire arrived in the country.
The first Starbucks hit Brazil in 2006 and was located in São Paulo. Since then, the company has expanded aggressively in Brazil’s major cities.
Rio’s first Starbucks opened in late 2008 in Leblon Shopping Mall, much to the delight of local shoppers. Since then Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) alone has seen seven Starbucks arrive, including Ipanema in 2012, Starbucks’ busiest store in Rio.
In a city where independent juice bars and home-grown brands remain the high street norm, Starbucks is one of the few multinational eateries making significant inroads into the consumer market. As well as posing a threat to the local independent cafés and bars, Starbucks is also competing with the city’s supermarkets selling their own brand’s ‘Brasil Blend’ coffee for consumers to make at home.
The Starbucks Corporation was founded in 1971 in Seattle’s Pike Place market in Washington State, United States. Bought by its current Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz in 1987 it opened its first store outside the U.S. in Japan in 1996. Since then it has expanded across the globe and today has over 18,000 stores in 62 countries.
Starbucks’ continued growth in Rio shows that the corporation has confidence in the local market. Whether other international restaurants or coffee houses will follow suit remains to be seen.