Starbucks has opened in Caracas, and those who can afford it are lining up. $7 for a Frappuccino with caramel. Indeed, Starbucks Caracas serves the same beverages as any of the 30,000 Starbucks locations in 78 countries – except that the Caracas location is entirely frothy.
Nonetheless, there has been a week of uproar on social media in the wake of the alleged Starbucks branch’s opening, which bears the well-known logo of the California company’s two-tailed siren and the slogan “We Proudly Serve.” At the very least, the illusion exists, and locals in Caracas can imagine themselves as Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada, running through, if not New York, then the Las Mercedes shopping complex.
A Yeet! supermarket in this section of eastern Caracas appears to house an international café. The previously isolated neighbouring high-rise office buildings are now encircled by activity. However, this phantom of economic recovery in an oil-dependent country whose economy has been contracting for eight years immediately raised eyebrows.
It was initially stated to be part of the brand’s We Proudly Serve marketing campaign, which is managed by Nestlé. However, this explanation did not hold up under scrutiny. Nestlé Venezuela and Starbucks in the United States issued statements disavowing their involvement with the new Caracas coffee shop, stating that the programme does not operate in Venezuela. It makes no difference. Customers continue to drink their coffee from cups emblazoned with the Starbucks logo and their name scrawled in marker pen.
However, the statement has compelled George Nieves, listed as YeetCEO, !’s to acknowledge that, while they use the Starbucks logo and products, they are not an official Starbucks location, as the company is not a franchise. “By opening the coffee shop, we were merely attempting to improve the shopping experience in the store,” he admitted in an interview with local news outlet El Nacional. According to the Yeet! website, the company’s founders are a group of young entrepreneurs whose mission is to “bring international shopping to Venezuela.”