VI meets “Juan Valdez” – the face of the Colombian coffee growers

AVEX 2007 saw for the first time promotional staff walking the halls and distributing goodies to the visitors. The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia – FNC, Café de Colombia and Complete Coffee went a step further and had a superb band serenading visitors each day on their stand and at the entrance area, plus they offered visitors the opportunity to meet Juan Valdez (Carlos Castaneda) who is the face of the Colombian coffee growers.
You may recognize the smiling face of this “cafetero” appearing on packaging and advertising within the triangular logo, which shows him, his donkey, and the Andes Mountains in the background?

Juan Valdez represents the 560,000 cafeteros who work the land and supply the nation with coffee from this group of producers that have been ethical and fair-trade producers for 80 years.

Carlos Castaneda, who portrays Juan Valdez, is a real “cafetero” and replaced the last face (Carlos Sanchez) who retired just over a year ago. For these producers it’s a privilege to represent their business, a rigorous interview and selection process was involved as they were truly looking for some one who, along with authenticity, had a good sense of humour, a sense of adventure – and the iconic moustache!

VI asked a few simple questions via an interpreter:

VI: What are your first impressions of this UK event?

JV: It is a very colourful exhibition, most organised. l have been to six international fairs this year so far but this is the first for vending.

VI: What countries have you seen?

JV: I have been to many including Germany, Japan and Russia

VI: With all these events how does your family feel with you being away so long?

JV: They are proud that their father has this great opportunity to represent the image of our growers.

VI: Does the promotion and time away get tiring?

JV: No l am a happy person, I am representing my people and it is a great positive thing that l do. l am proud to be here and l want people to see the real authentic coffee grower.

VI: What is your own farm and area like?

JV: l have 3 acres and work Monday to Saturday. l am a community leader of one of the 4 local regions where there are roughly 3000 “cafeteros”.

VI: We have other suppliers now putting a face to their products. How do you feel about the competition?

JV :Laughed and said he was flattered with this imitation.

VI: If you could say something to our readers about your product what would you say?

JV: All our beans are 100% Colombian, grown with honesty and passion, they are carefully handled by our growers to ensure quality in production.

VI: How long do you see yourself being Juan Valdez?

JV: I see this going on for many years ahead, for as long as l can represent my people and the Colombian coffee growers.

VI: Thank you A simple but intelligent man, Carlos Castaneda is a passionate representative of the Colombian coffee growers. Possessing the inner strength to remain separated from his family while travelling to foreign countries promoting the FNC, he smiles constantly. Carlos Castaneda continues the tradition of the cafetero in the role of “Juan Valdez” and truly brings him to life.