Starbucks Strengthens Global Specialty Coffee Supply: Openly Shares More Than A Decade Of Research, Verifies 99% Of Coffee Ethically Sourced

April 9, 2015

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Starbucks Coffee Company today announced critical advancements in research and transparency benefiting the entire specialty coffee industry as part of the evolution of its comprehensive ethical sourcing program and support of the sustainability of the specialty coffee industry. The company will make a decade of agronomy research available for commercialization in collaboration with the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE). This research, combined with Starbucks far-reaching blueprint for transparent and sustainable sourcing, benefits more than a million farmers and workers around the world. By sharing this work with the industry, Starbucks will broaden its impact on the 25 million people across the globe who rely on coffee for their livelihoods.

“The growth of specialty coffee is unprecedented and the pressure this puts on the global coffee industry is both a challenge and an opportunity,” said Craig Russell, executive vice president of Global Coffee for Starbucks. “Reaching our ethical sourcing milestone shows that it can be done and coupling this with our research advancements, we believe we are defining a sustainable way forward for our industry. We have been committed to farmers for over forty years and will continue to find ways to bring social, environmental and economic advancements to them so that we can ensure that there is a future for farmers and our industry.”

In 2004 Starbucks opened its first Farmer Support Center in Costa Rica allowing agronomists and quality experts to work alongside farmers, sharing tools and information to help them increase the productivity and quality of coffee on their farms, improving their livelihoods. From the beginning, Starbucks agronomists have partnered with other industry experts to develop Arabica coffee varietals that offer a high-quality taste in cup, productivity and disease resistance. This work has become even more critical in recent years as variable weather conditions increases incidences of coffee leaf rust or “roya” in parts of Latin America.

In 2015, Starbucks will donate thousands of seedlings from five different coffee tree hybrids developed through its research to ICAFE which will then be verified in different regions of Costa Rica most impacted by these challenging conditions. Established in 1933, ICAFE is a leading coffee development organization responsible for research and the transferring of technology. This research will also be registered at the National Seed Office and ICAFE will make them available for commercialization in the coming years. This milestone with ICAFE is one aspect of Starbucks ongoing research commitments that include work with the World Coffee Research Institute and Promecafe.

“We have been working closely with Starbucks for many years and have seen firsthand their commitment to helping the specialty coffee farming community thrive in the face of adversity,” said Ronald Peters, Executive Director of ICAFE. “This varietal research is essential to the long-term stability of farmers around the world and demonstrates how this company has the unique opportunity to use its scale to offer sourcing, agronomy and financial support so that future generations can be proud to be a part of coffee farming.”

In addition to the advancements in agronomy, in 2015 Starbucks has verified 99% of its coffee as ethically sourced. For over 15 years, Starbucks has worked with Conservation International to design a rigorous set of methods to ensure environmental and social best practices are used in growing and processing coffee. To date, more than a million farmers and workers on four continents have benefited by participating in Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices.

“Our work with Starbucks didn’t happen overnight. It has been a fifteen-year journey learning how to embed sustainable practices into their sourcing structure so that coffee can be good for people and the planet,” said John Buchanan, interim Senior Vice President and Senior Director, Sustainable Food and Agriculture Markets of Conservation International. “The milestone of Starbucks ethically sourcing 99% of their coffee cannot be underestimated and, in fact, makes it possible to consider that coffee could be the world’s first sustainably sourced commodity.”

To date, Starbucks has invested more than $70 million in its comprehensive approach to ethical sourcing, supporting coffee farming communities, mitigating the impact of climate change, and supporting long-term crop stability and farm sustainability. This includes a network of six farmer support centers around the world (Rwanda, Tanzania, Colombia, China, Costa Rica and Ethiopia), a commitment to provide $20 million in farmer financing in the form of short- and long-term loans, as well as the purchase of a farm in Costa Rica acting as a global agronomy center.

To learn more about Starbucks commitments, you can find its 2014 Global Responsibility Report here:

To learn more about Starbucks work with Conservation International, information can be found here:

About Starbucks

Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high-quality Arabica coffee. Today, with stores around the globe, the company is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup.


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