Juan Valdez drinks Costa Rican coffee

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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. At one time, it was used on bumper stickers in Costa Rica.[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]

A license plate frame featuring the slogan

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[edit]

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. February 24, 2006. "Costa Rica General Information Archived December 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine."
  2. ^ a b c A.M. Costa Rica. May 11, 2006. "Colombians finally react to Juan Valdez joke." Vol. 6. No. 93.
  3. ^ VolCafe Specialty Coffee. July 7, 2006. "Colombian Fedcafe files lawsuit against Costa Rican roaster[permanent dead link]."
  4. ^ Costa Rican Vacations, UK. November 2006. "Coffee Character Chaos Archived October 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine."
  5. ^ Schmidt, Blake. November 18, 2006. "Juan Valdez drinks Costa Rican Coffee." Tico Times.
  6. ^ (in Spanish) Nacion. May 11, 2006. "Cafeteros colombianos y Britt se enfrentan por 'Juan Valdez'."
  7. ^ (in Spanish) Nacion. January 13, 2007. "Britt demanda a Federación colombiana por difamación."
  8. ^ Van Wik, Anika. December 22, 1999. "Colourful Costa Rican Poas Volcano is just one of the spectacular sights in this Central American country." Calgary Sun.
  9. ^ "Sigue polémica Britt-Federacafé" [Britt-Federacafé Still Controversial]. Portafolio (in Spanish). March 6, 2007. Retrieved September 11, 2017.