Starbucks would drop two cafes in Jamaica which will target tourists primarily at least initially, according to Coffee dealers who spoke to Jamaicamocha .
The talk is that the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay
could see a location followed quickly by another, at a new business
hotel under construction in Kingston. (Let’s avoid names for the moment.)
Of course, last month the Gleaner reported that Starbucks is considering entering the island along with other Caribbean territories in the medium term.
It just so happens that the busy Montego Bay airport which currently
doesn’t have any store slots available will see 25 per cent of the
stores come up for contract renewal this year, according to media reports.
Sources say that’s where the Starbucks franchisee will snatch up a vacancy and outbid an
existing operator. But it might not even have to come to a bidding
war, as the franchisee already supplies the airport with food
and beverage. (I have already said too much.)
Who are the two private sector players seeking to acquire the
Starbucks franchise in Jamaica–They are both in hospitality sector, the
Will Starbucks increase the coffee culture? Will Starbucks improve a
cup of local coffee? Or would it simply increase the price? Let’s see. Not all cafe players are upbeat about the prospects especially those who earn from the tourist market.
Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee prices hit a high of roughly US$60 per pound this year for roasted beans amid increased demand and reduced supply.
Consumers however will find solace in knowing that producers are expecting prices to fall by as much as 25 per cent in the next two years. It will mean that the cheapest Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) in years whether from Jablum, Wallenford, Amber or any other brand.
The price fall is the result of an expected increased supply of beans on the market as farms return to full or near to full capacity. The increased supply will result in an overabundance on the market which will, at least in economic terms, reduce the price.
In anticipation of this price drop, brands including Jablum introduced a Premium Blend of coffee that incorporates 30 per cent JBM and 70 per cent regional balanced beans. Thus price conscious enthusiasts can buy a pound for as little as US$32 plus shipping.
Over the last few years, a confluence of factors affected the supply of the beans led by drought, fires, infertile farms and disease.
Over the last two years, roasters in Japan wanted the bulk of beans from Jamaica and were willing to pay anything for the luxury cup.
During that period, the price at the farm level jumped fivefold from US$20 to $100 per box of coffee as small farmers gained influence in price setting.
Coffee Roasters Jamaica (CRJ) led by the Fletcher family started selling its own single-serve k-cup Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee pods in December.
Its aimed at targeting the fastest-growing segment of the US coffee market. Mark Fletcher, chief executive officer, hopes that the k-cups will grow overall revenues at the company already benefiting from a one-third rise in exports year on year. The company has already sold about 100 k-cup cases in the US.
Few local companies sell their own branded single-cup brewed coffee. Its due in part to the focus on selling green beans to Japan and the industry’s sporadic sales to US which heavily demands k-cups.
CRJ and sister company Country Traders Ltd recently got a renewal inspection for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).
Ten new cafes opened in Kingston over the last 12 months.
Its a record number of cafes in the struggling Jamaican economy. Moreover the city didn’t even drink quality coffee until recently. The farms instead chose to export the best grades to Japan and most Jamaicans drink cheap instant shit.
Reduced export earnings forced farms to find new markets and that new market is domestic. It has resulted in the Starbucks culture finally brewing its way into the island even without a phsyical store presence.
Kingston now probably has about 15-20 proper cafes. Many are within hotels but also on every decent mall. The owner of one of the pioneering cafes said: “Where are most of these cafes now. I expect them to continue disappearing in a year”.