Valdez - Fictitious mustachioed representative for the National
Federation of Coffee Growers (founded in 1926) who roams the lush green
Colombian rainforests in search of the finest grown coffee beans.
Created in 1959, Juan Valdez wears a traditional peasant garb (large brim hat, sombrero and pancho) and leads around Lana, his faithful burro who is loaded down with sacks
of coffee beans.
In the early commercials, Juan was seen in the coffee fields
hand-picking the beans at the moment of prime ripeness. Juan's constant search
for the best coffee beans personifies the many hard-working Colombian "cafeteros"
(coffee farmers) that depend on coffee for their livelihood.
The Juan Valdez ad campaign was created by New York-based Doyle Dane Berbach
agency (which later merged with Chicago-based Needham Harper Steers to become
DDB Needham Worldwide Advertising).
José F. Duval, a New York based actor played the role of Juan Valdez until 1969 when he was
replaced by Carlos Sánchez of Medellín, Colombia, a farmer born in Fredonia, a
small town near the largest coffee producing region of Colombia, Antioquia.
In the 1980s, the Juan Valdez campaign used images of Rolls Royce cars, luxury ocean liners and castles to lure "Generation
X" away form the hip coffee houses. In the 1990s the "Grab Life by the Beans"
campaign featured Valdez surfing, snowboarding and even hang-gliding with his
At the beginning of the Millennium, the Juan Valdez character (inactive
for a couple of years because Colombian government cutbacks forced the
federation to reduce its advertising activities and retire Mr. Valdez) starred
in a series of upbeat advertisements (People, Us Weekly, Entertainment
Weekly, Rolling Stone and Premiere magazines) as a means of boosting dwindling coffee
In September 2000, Colombian President Andres Pastrana awarded
Juan Valdez (Carlos Sánchez) a silver cross for national merit on his 40th
birthday at a ceremony in the presidential palace in Bogato (Lana the burro
remained downstairs during the ceremony).
On December 14, 2002, The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia opened its first "Juan Valdez" Coffee
shop in the Bogota airport. The newly elected Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and Juan Valdez, representing Colombia's coffee growers were its first honorary
In 2003, Juan Valdez made a cameo
appearance in the film Bruce Almighty starring Jim Carrey in which he pours the lead character a cup of coffee.
Carlos Sanchez, who played the role of Juan Valdez since 1969, retired in
2006. The hunt for a new actor to continue the Juan Valdez legacy began soon
TRIVIA NOTE: Coffee brands displaying the Juan Valdez logo are
guaranteed by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia to have been
made entirely from 100% Colombian Coffee - "the richest coffee in the world."
The coffee brand may be guaranteed for quality, but they can't guarantee that
people will make fun of their product, like the mischievous sentiment "Juan
Valdez Drinks Tea" seen occasionally on bumper stickers and subways walls or the
internet inspired revelation "Juan and his donkey weren't just harvesting coffee
up there. They fell in to the wrong side of a cartel war and haven't been seen
since." Juan Valdez's burro, Lana has also been called "Conchita."
information about coffee read: The Colombian Coffee Book: How Juan Valdez Became
a Household Name by David Desmith (Glen Park Press, 1999)
See also - El Exigente
"We don't know who's more stubborn
-- Juan Valdez or his burro"
||--1960 newspaper ad copy
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