BOGOTA — Call it the South American version of selling ice to eskimos: Starbucks is opening its first store in Colombia on July 16. The shop marks the start of the American coffee giant's operations in a country that grows and produces lots of its own brew, and already has a strong, local but international, coffee brand, Juan Valdéz. 

In fact, Starbucks plans to open its first store right next door to Juan Valdéz in the Parque 93 shopping and dining district in northern Bogotá, frequented by the Colombian middle class and foreign tourists. This will be the first of 50 stores Starbucks plans to open in Colombia by 2018. 

In August 2013, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that Starbucks would be entering the Colombian market in partnership with Nutresa, a local food and drinks firm. The partnership formula has been used elsewhere by the company. Starbucks entered the Spanish market in partnership with VIPS, a chain of eateries and stores with a very high profile and string of stores, often located in some of the finest districts in Spanish cities. 

Schultz said the firm's success elsewhere would not assure the same in Colombia, a country he nevertheless described as "a very big market and ready for Starbucks."