Packing up and traveling south, Starbucks(Nasdaq: SBUX) entered Latin America yesterday with the opening of its first store in Mexico City. The coffee king plans to open a Puerto Rico location within the next week, and is investigating its opportunities in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. Chalk it up as another move toward making sure coffee drinkers can grab a Venti Latte (non-fat, please) the world over.

As with its other international ventures, Starbucks partnered with a local company in Mexico for its expansion there. Having local partners for its international ventures has been crucial to the company's success in diverse markets. Taking the Starbucks brand and plopping it down hither and thither likely wouldn't fly, but adapting it ever so subtly, with the help on folks on the ground, has proven key.

Mexico will be an interesting market for Starbucks, because while the country is the world's fifth-largest coffee producer, its people don't actually drink a whole lot of the stuff. They chug down lots of cola instead.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Starbucks' Howard Schultz said, "The reason coffee consumption is not as strong in this country as others is that people have not been given the kind of coffee experience they deserve. We can give them that."

As Pollyannaish and press release perfect as that sounds, there's no reason to doubt Starbucks can create a café latte culture in Mexico. Naysayers believed Starbucks would never succeed in tea-loving China, but it has. Critics shook their heads when Starbucks targeted Europe, with its history of tiny espresso cafes, but the company has seen success there. Starbucks in places like Kuwait, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia are popular and growing.

Starbucks already plans to add another 10 to 15 Mexican locations over the next 12 to 18 months, and sees an eventual 100 Mexican Starbucks within three to five years. At that rate, it won't be long before the rest of Latin American is blanketed in the company's trademark green and white.