Sunday, August 2006 - Steve Aronson
Café Britt has opened three, sparkling new coffee and gift stores at the Hato International Airport on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.
We’ve opened stores in Peru and all over Costa Rica. But these Curaçao stores are really worth talking about.
They’re proof that our creative, Costa Rica-based staff can “parachute” into an entirely alien culture to design, build, stock and staff stores that mirror this curious Caribbean island and introduce Café Britt’s own “plantation to cup” identity. The stores are named after three indigenous flowers from the island: Flamboyan, Kayena, and Tuturutu. The sounds tell you something about the culture, don’t they?
Agriculture – coffee culture – is totally foreign to this island of dry desert scrub. Nature reveals itself only to divers and snorkelers, who travel to Curaçao for its coral reef and colorful sea life.
The capital city of Willemstad became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. It’s yellow, orange and blue, Dutch colonial buildings welcome the approximately 200 cruise ships that glide directly through downtown and tie up at the city’s busy port. The island’s cosmopolitan residents are multicultural and multilingual. Most speak four languages – English, Spanish, Dutch and their native Papiamento.
Curaçao was once a staging post for shipments of African slaves headed to the new world. Today, much of the shipping traffic revolves around the oil refining industry, which is second only to tourism as an income earner.
But coffee? That was the challenge, and our staff really came through. Café Britt’s stores are the talk of the town.
With Curaçao open, Aruba may be next. About 40 miles away, Aruba is less than 40 miles long and six miles wide, but it receives 800,000 tourist visits each year. Or maybe we will try some other territory, the opportunities for our Company are open, and we at the Board level, are intensively trying to chart the course of our future developments.
The challenge to meld our differing cultures will be the same. But tourists love our coffee, chocolates, nuts and gifts. It’s going to be fine.