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A sticker seen on an espresso machine in the coffee growing regions of Costa Rica.

Juan Valdez drinks Costa Rican coffee (Spanish: Juan Valdez bebe café de Costa Rica) is a slogan, implying that Juan Valdez, a fictional character created by the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (Fedcafé), drinks coffee from Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, the slogan is popular on bumper stickers.[1] The slogan prompted a lawsuit for the first time in 2006, when Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia sued Café Britt following a t-shirt dispute.


The origins of the slogan are unclear. Juan Valdez has appeared in advertisements for Colombian coffee since 1959. Jaime Daremblum, then-Costa Rican ambassador to the United States, used the phrase in a 1999 speech.[2]

An actor portraying Juan Valdez

Apparently the message about Juan Valdez as a drinker of Costa Rican coffee was attributed to José Duval, a New York based actor, who was the first Juan Valdez.[2]

Legal disputes

In 2006, The Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia received an injunction preventing the Costa Rican company Café Britt from selling t-shirts with the slogan. Fedcafé then filed a $1 million lawsuit on July 7, 2006[3] after Café Britt refused to sign a contract, stating that it must respect the intellectual property of Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia and refrain from using either the name or image of Juan Valdez. Café Britt filed a $200,000 counter-suit, after producing an affidavit from a Costa Rican man, Juan Valdez, certifying that he does drink Costa Rican coffee. Café Britt also argued that the phrase is so common as to be ineligible for legal protection.[4][5]

Fedcafé maintains that Café Britt agreed in early 2006 to stop using its trademarks;[2] Pablo Vargas, the manager of Café Britt, denies that such an agreement existed.[6] The only and final agreement, according to Fedcafé's proposal of January 19, 2006, consisted in the total recall of the t-shirts. This is the agreement Britt accepted and executed on that same date. In exchange, Fedcafé committed to dismiss any further legal process.[7]

The "other" Juan Valdez was discovered as early as 1999.[8]

Café Britt presented a criminal case against Gabriel Silva, Federacafé's manager, for presumably defamatory statements, as well as taking civil action against him for damages of $1,000,000. Mr. Silva was notified in Colombia through diplomatic channels. All charges have since been dropped. When asked to comment, Silva's lawyer, Kyle Hoskinson, stated, "I'm glad this is all over."[9]


  1. ^ Costa Rica Tourism and Travel Bureau. 2006, February 24. "Costa Rica General Information."
  2. ^ a b c A.M. Costa Rica. 2006, May 11. "Colombians finally reject Juan Valdez joke." Vol. 6. No. 93.
  3. ^ VolCafe Specialty Coffee. 2006, July 7. "Colombian Fedcafe files lawsuit against Costa Rican roaster."
  4. ^ Costa Rican Vacations, UK. 2006, November. "Coffee Character Chaos."
  5. ^ Schmidt, Blake. 2006, November 18. "Juan Valdez drinks Costa Rican Coffee." Tico Times.
  6. ^ (Spanish) Nacion. 2006, May 11. "Cafeteros colombianos y Britt se enfrentan por 'Juan Valdez'."
  7. ^ (Spanish) Nacion. 2007, Jan 13. "Britt demanda a Federación colombiana por difamación."
  8. ^ Van Wik, Anika. 1999, December 22. "Colourful Costa Rican Poas Volcano is just one of the spectacular sights in this Central American country." Calgary Sun.
  9. ^ (Spanish) 2007, March 06. " Sigue polémica Britt-Federacafé."


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