A year ago I noted the Colombia Coffee Federation was planning an agressive international rollout of Juan Valdez-branded specialty cafes. This morning [early this morning!] the Juan Valdez at 5th and Pike in Seattle held its grand opening. It’s the third such coffee house now in the United States, and the first in the Mermaid’s backyard.

The coffee? Quite good. Okay, so the cappuccino was prepared in what I’ve come to think of as the Italian style… the milk textured and stiff, though still sweey and not dry.

The premise of the cafes: demonstrate to the coffee-drinker-on-the-street that there’s more to Colombian coffee than something that’s “Mountain Grown”… that there are, in fact, a great variety of coffee growing regions and resulting coffee flavors. At least as many regions, perhaps, as there are uniformed folks behind the counter in the shop.

The neat part of the plan: the hundreds of thousands of Colombian growers who are members of the Federation are, in fact, now shareholders in these new coffee shops. There are no middlemen… so there should be a significantly greater share of profits that find their way back to the growers.

The idea is bold. It’s risky. And it just might work.

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