Notas de Café
Joanni Largo, a passionate young Colombian started as a logistical assistant. He's now in Asia, working as a barista, and serving as a good example of Colombians who proudly bring their culture across borders.

Malaysia and Korea: Two Challenges

Hearing another language and seeing different faces are some of the first things we notice when we set foot on foreign soil. For Joanni, his arrival in places as remote as Malaysia and Korea awakened a particular thought: "the way people interact with each other is very different from ours." He notes that he is there to accomplish an important mission: not only to support the opening of new Juan Valdez® Café stores in these countries, but also to instruct a team with little or no knowledge regarding Colombia about the essence of the country.

This experience, which Joanni calls “quite an odyssey,” started by delivering all the products and decorative elements for the store--a task, which although complicated, was not the most challenging. The appropriate way to treat people from different cultures coming in for coffee--a Muslim woman, for example--required cultural sensitivity and careful thought. Joanni wrestled to find the balance between respectful and cordial service and the warmth and friendliness inherent in Colombians.

Like many of our Colombian baristas, he succeeded in spreading the essence and quality of Colombian service to the store personnel, a team comprised by people of different nationalities. Joanni's new colleagues had to learn to prepare traditional products such as arequipe and almojábana (types of Colombian desserts that define the brand's identity) with similar ingredients, since their export is nearly impossible.

The challenge of importing Colombian culture to different countries makes us proud. It’s a path we take to learn, to get to know new people and cultures, and to provide ex-pat Colombians a small touch of home.


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