Pinecrest Bakery, Starbucks square off over right to serve Cuban coffee

PINECREST, Fla. (WSVN) — Pinecrest Bakery has become a late-night pastelito and Cuban sandwich staple for South Florida over the past few years, but now, they might just have a problem brewing right next door.

Pinecrest Bakery has many locations statewide, but one location in particular just happens to be connected to the same shopping center as a Starbucks location.

This Pinecrest Bakery, located at 6655 South Dixie Highway, signed a lease years ago that only allowed their coffee sales to make up to 10 percent of their gross income.

A few months later, the bakery signed a revision that specified they could only sell American coffee brewed in a pot. “We signed it, because if not, we are in breach of our contract and in breach of our lease,” said  Efrain Valdes, the bakery’s co-owner.

Today, they have become a Cuban bakery where only American coffee is allowed. “Bottom line: Our hands are tied, and we really can’t sell any coffee,” said Valdes.

Customers have noticed. “It’s good, but it’s not the kind of coffee I would like to have,” said Grace Betancourt.

“Cuban coffee is part of our culture, and you can’t compare Cuban coffee to Starbucks,” said customer Chanelle Costa Fleites. “It’s not apples to apples, so I think that’s what’s making people so upset.”

According to the bakery’s owners, the problem is the result of Starbucks’ demand for exclusive coffee rights in this shopping center. “We are losing clientele by the tons,” Valdes said.

Costa Fleites started a petition currently circling social media. Within 24 hours, her complaint had more than 3,000 shares on Facebook and her petition had garnered over 200 signatures.

Signs at the bakery that read “No coffee? Tell Starbucks!” urge customers to get involved. “Hopefully Starbucks can back off,” said Costa Fleites.

The manager of the property hasn’t responded to 7News’ requests for comment, but Starbucks released a statement that reads in part, “We’re actively working in partnership with the landlord and our neighboring businesses to understand concerns and quickly resolve any misunderstanding, with the goal of all parties resuming their beverage business as usual.”

But will that mean a pastelito served with a cafecito? “I think it’s part of the experience,” said a customer.

The folks at Pinecrest Bakery are sure hoping so. “We’re not complicated people, we’re simple people trying to do what we do best,” said Valdes.

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