Getting to know the origin of an iconic name, image of Colombia

Juan Valdez Coffee is the number one imported coffee product into the US

OCOEE, Fla. – It’s considered one of the most popular drinks to have in the morning, afternoon and some even enjoy it at night — coffee.

Colombia is the biggest exporter of coffee to the United States.

Back in the late 1950s the name Juan Valdez was created and introduced into coffee drinking homes. A brand that was seen on TV and became more popular in the U.S. during the 1980s.

“It is a fictional character but it actually came out of the reality of the brand which actually belongs to 540,000 coffee-growing families in Colombia,” Gustavo Ghersi, chief strategy officer for Best Coffee Franchise Company, the exclusive Juan Valdez Franchisee said.

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The fictional character represents thousands of farmworkers who pick each red coffee bean grown high in the mountains of Colombia.

“It is the number one imported coffee product into the United States,” Ghersi said.

Colombian coffee that wakes up millions of homes across the world, with the help of a smiling man alongside a mule carrying bags of coffee beans.

“It was basically to ensure that when you saw that logo, you knew that it was actually an authentic 100% Colombian coffee product,” Ghersi said.

The bean is an Arabica bean, considered the most popular coffee type. But it’s not just the type of bean that makes Colombian coffee unique from other countries that cultivate it. Ghersi said it’s how the bean makes its way into your daily brew.

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“There’s nothing industrialized in that process. We can’t industrialize it because most of the coffee trees are actually up in the mountains. The actual farmer has to go up into the mountains pick the fruit from the trees, and actually carry it down from the mountain on the backs of donkeys,” Ghersi said.

Since the inception of Juan Valdez coffee, the brand has also made it a priority to give back to those coffee picking field workers.

“Everything that the brand sells around the world, all of its income goes back to the growing families to 540,000 families in ways of social programs, technology for sustainable practices and also infrastructure,” Ghersi said.

In Central Florida, there are currently two Juan Valdez Cafés. One in Windermere and another in Ocoee.

“I’ve grown up on coffee. I come from South Carolina originally and coffee’s the mainstay of our family growing up,” Rusty Johnson, Mayor of the city of Ocoee said.

Johnson said he hopes more diverse business owners look to his city for prosperity.

“It just shows you the different diversity we have in our city with what kind of businesses and what kind of nationalities we have that come here to live here.”

As for the Juan Valdez image, Floridians will be seeing much more of it as the company plans to expand to 185 shops in the sunshine state.


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About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.