Packets of Starbucks coffee are seen in a supermarket in Santa Monica, California in this January 27, 2011 file photograph. Starbucks Corp investors on Wednesday rejected a shareholder proposal to prohibit the world's biggest coffee chain from making political contributions or forming a political action committee. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD)

JOHANNESBURG: Taste Holdings, owners of the Domino’s Pizza brand in South Africa and Arthur Kaplan Jewellers, announced yesterday that it had signed a deal with Starbucks Coffee Company to open full-format stores in South Africa.

Taste said the stores would bring the full range of Starbucks food and beverages, including its ethically sourced Arabica coffee, to South African consumers, with the first outlet set to open in Johannesburg next year and other locations to follow.

Starbucks, founded in Seattle in 1971, has more 22 000 stores around the world. The brand, already familiar to South African fans of Hollywood movies, is sometimes the subject of playful derision for transforming the simple Cuppa Joe into complex and sometimes foolish-sounding concoctions.

The licence agreement, under which Taste will own and operate the stores directly, includes certain rights for other African countries. Since Starbucks already sources coffee from farms in sub-Saharan Africa, this partnership could mean beans grown locally are served to the very workers who picked them in a skinny non-fat frappuccino with extra whipped cream and chocolate sauce, or even a grande non-fat one-pump no-whip mocha.

Kris Engskov, Starbucks president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: “The coffee market here is vibrant and growing fast – we want to be part of that growth, bringing the passion and energy of this remarkable country into the design of our first store and our first barista team.”

Carlo Gonzaga, chief executive of Taste, said the companies had “similar core values, including a commitment to localisation and uplifting both direct and indirect partners”.

“Starbucks supports the development of local suppliers and is fully committed to our Changing Lanes programme, wherein we have provided employment to previously unemployed people and exposed them to global training initiatives and skills.”

“Young people are the key to our success,” said Engskov. “The majority of our workforce is aged between 17 and 25, so talented youth has always been a priority.”