- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 12, 2006

Colombian growers want a bigger piece of Washington’s coffee market.

A second Juan Valdez Cafe opened Friday at Seventh and E streets Northwest as part of a Colombian coffee trade group’s focus on the Washington and New York markets.

The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, a co-op that owns the Juan Valdez Cafes, opened its first coffee shop in the United States at 18th and F streets Northwest in September 2004. The group also has two shops in New York and two in Seattle.

“Our big purpose with the cafes is to make them profitable but also to promote Colombian coffee,” said Juan Esteban Orduz, president of the Colombian Coffee Federation in the United States.

The group is focusing on more locations in the District and New York City.

“D.C. is a very important market to us,” Mr. Orduz said. “It serves the dual purpose of selling the coffee … and adds a lot of visibility of the brand and Colombia as the origin of high-quality coffee.”

The group is looking to have 120 to 150 cafes in the United States and 300 around the world by 2010. There are 20 in Colombia.

The federation works to improve sales of all types of Colombian coffees — major coffee sellers such as Maxwell House and Folgers sell 100 percent Colombian coffee product lines, too — to provide the member farmers with a steady income, even when world coffee prices are low.

The new cafe sits across the street from its biggest competition: coffee king Starbucks. The coffee chain has 61 stores in the District alone.

Caribou Coffee, the second largest coffee chain in the area, has seven shops in the District.

The federation says their shop is different from the competition.

“Unlike private corporations that have a coffee shop chain, we’re not just putting cafes out, we’re promoting the consumption of coffee of a certain origin,” Mr. Orduz said.

Earning its keep, almost

The Baltimore Visitor Center, a $4.5 million building that opened in May 2004, generates an estimated $3.5 million annually for the region, according to the first study on the center’s results.

The study, by the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Temple University, examined responses from guests at the center from July 2004 to June 2005.

The center sells tickets to area attractions, books hotel and restaurant reservations, and answers visitors’ questions.

Among the additional spending related to a trip to the center, a quarter of local travelers spent an average of $107 more than they originally planned because of what they found at the center, the study said.

“The visitor center and its volunteers and staff are encouraging visitors to explore parts of the city they may not have considered, extend their length of stay and contribute greater economic impact to the city,” said Leslie R. Doggett, president and chief executive officer of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association.

Retail & Hospitality runs Mondays. Got news? Contact Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or [email protected]

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