Starbucks Goes South with a Big Surge in Latin America

Starbucks in Costa Rica
Starbucks in Costa Rica

There may seem to be a Starbucks (SBUX) at most high-traffic locations, but you were out of luck trying to satisfy a Frappuccino craving in Costa Rica -- until Wednesday morning.

Starbucks closed out its most recent quarter with 17,420 stores, with more than 560 locations throughout Latin America. This week the java giant is setting up its first store in Costa Rica. It'll be in the Escazu neighborhood in San Jose.

The fast-growing chain has to occasionally tweak its menu as it establishes itself in new territories, but Costa Rica will be getting the company's full menu of hot and cold espresso beverages, Frappuccinos, brewed coffee servings, Tazo teas, and aromatically pleasing food items.

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The company is no stranger to the Costa Rica. Even though Starbucks gets most of its Arabica coffee beans from Colombia, it's been sourcing beans from Costa Rica since its founding in 1971.

However, entering a new country isn't the only Latin American move that the baron of baristas is making this week.

Starbucks is also opening a Farmers Support Center in Colombia to assist harvesters, adding to the existing centers it has set up over the years -- one in Costa Rica in 2004 and another in Rwanda in 2009. These hubs staff agronomists and quality experts to work directly with the area's coffee farmers. Starbucks is planning on opening its next center in China next year.

A Latte Potential

Starbucks hasn't been very aggressive in the Latin American market from which it sources most of its beans. The same can be said of the Europe, home of the old-school coffeehouses that inspired the company's original concept.

%Gallery-154119%However, the company seems ready to make up for lost time -- at least as it pertains to expansion through Latin America.

Starbucks took control of its Brazilian operations two years ago and now plans to add hundreds of stores in country. It will team up with a joint-venture partner to open at least 300 new stores in Argentina and Mexico over the next three years.

Starbucks has a passport, and it's not afraid to use it.

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Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Starbucks.

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