Starbucks expects to open 20 stores in Panama City in the next five years, which should be big news for coffee lovers. The first store is a 3,300-square-foot, two-story shop in Panama City’s Street Mall shopping center, located on the roundabout of Via Israel and Ave Brasil in the San Francisco/Punta Pacifica area. Along with international blends, it will feature Panamanian coffees, according to a press release from the company.
On one level, the reaction is obvious: what took so long? It often seems like Starbucks stores are on every street corner in most big cities. But it’s understandable that Starbucks wanted to wait for the city to grow. Now Panama City has reached critical mass as an international city, in the estimation of Starbucks’ executives, and the coffee giant will join La Coste, Gucci, Cartier and a wide array of the world’s top retailers, who already busy in Panama.
Starbucks is working with the El Salvador-based Premium Restaurants of America, its licensing partner in Central America, to open the Panama stores. Since 2010, when the Starbucks opened its first store in San Salvador, the partnership has opened 19 stories, including eight in El Salvador, five in Guatemala, five in Costa Rica and the new addition in Panama City.
In its press release, Starbucks emphasized that it would feature coffee grown in Panama. “Starbucks has featured coffee from farms in Panama like Carmen Estate, Los Cantares Estate, La Florentina, San Benito and Hacienda La Esmeralda since 2000,” the company said.
The new store is decorated with pictures of Panama coffee farms and a “one-of-a-kind custom made hanging mobile, designed to represent the Geisha coffee plant, which signifies the birth of the coffee industry in Panama.”
“We are proud to bring the Starbucks Experience to customers in Panama and build our brand in a way that honors the coffee passion and traditions inherent to this region,” Rich Nelsen, senior vice president and general manager for Starbucks in Latin America, said in the statement.
Duncan McGowan is president of Punta Pacifica Realty, a Panama real estate agency focused on Punta Pacifica, the exclusive neighborhood of 18 towers perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.