By Holly Hart Shafer / Starbucks
1. Starbucks opens the doors to its Hacienda Alsacia Visitor Center, located on the grounds of its Costa Rican coffee farm, on March 7.
Quick Fact: Yes, Starbucks owns a coffee farm! Purchased in 2013, Hacienda Alsacia is a 240-hectare coffee farm in Costa Rica that serves as a global Research and Development facility and working farm for Starbucks. Now open to the public for the first time, visitors will be able to experience sustainable coffee first-hand, including the agronomy work Starbucks has been supporting and investing in for two decades.
How to Get There: Hacienda Alsacia is located in San Luis, Sabanilla, Alajuela, off the slopes of the Poas volcano, about 45 minutes from the Costa Rican capital of San Jose. Tickets to experience the Hacienda Alsacia Visitor Center cost $25 USD and include a 90-minute guided tour, coffee tastings, parking and a take-away bandana.
2. For the last five years, Hacienda Alsacia has been an innovation hub for Starbucks, helping to better understand challenges coffee farmers face and determining best practices and solutions.
Quick Fact: Hacienda Alsacia is the first of 9 Farmer Support Centers Starbucks operates in key coffee producing countries around the world, from Costa Rica to Rwanda. Farmers get free access to the latest findings of our top agronomists, including new disease-resistant trees, and advanced soil management techniques. The goal is to help farmers become more profitable and improve their crop quality, ensuring the future of high quality, sustainable coffees for everyone for years to come.
3. A group of world-class agronomists call Hacienda Alsacia home.
- You’ve heard of open sourcing technology, but what about open sourcing agronomy? Starbucks is committed to sharing research and best practices with everyone – whether they sell to Starbucks or not. The man leading the charge is Starbucks partner (employee), Carlos Mario Rodriguez, who was named Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business” in 2016 – no small feat! As director of Global Agronomy at Starbucks since 2004, Carlos Mario leads the open-source agronomy approach, researching and sharing critical learnings to protect coffee from climate change and disease.
- One accomplishment of Carlos Mario’s team at Hacienda Alsacia is their research on hybrid trees that are resistant to diseases, such as coffee rust. Starbucks is using these tree seedlings to grow more healthy trees to donate to afflicted farms, and open source the seed combination for the entire coffee industry.
- As Carlos has said: “To me, as a professional, as a partner, it’s the best part really when you start working with a particular farmer and you can see that they are improving their living conditions and being able to keep producing coffee as a good business, that’s the best. It’s really something that motivates us.”
FYI: A bit more on coffee rust: Coffee rust is a fungus that decimates trees and leaves them unable to produce coffee. Coffee farmers have always faced threats like pests and diseases. But as temperatures increase in coffee-producing areas, diseases like coffee leaf rust are now able to survive in new environments and at higher elevations.
4. Visitors to the farm will experience the entire journey of a cup of coffee: from seedling, to roasting, to tasting.
Quick Fact: At Hacienda Alsacia, Starbucks partners (employees) take visitors on a guided tour, showing the coffee seed “journey” from the nursery, to the coffee fields, wet mill, drying patio and coffee bodega. Visitors will also see the innovation green house where Carlos Mario’s team’s hybrid tree research is on display. The tour wraps with a fully functioning café where you can enjoy the view overlooking the farm with a freshly roasted and brewed cup of Hacienda Alsacia coffee. Also available is an assortment of locally prepared morning and lunch food items.
5. Starbucks is committed to 100% Ethical Sourcing – and Hacienda Alsacia truly brings this commitment to life.
Quick Fact: Starbucks Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) practices is the name for our comprehensive sourcing approach. The holistic model, which Hacienda Alsacia is bringing to life for visitors from around the world, includes: responsible purchasing practices; farmer support; economic, social and environmental standards for suppliers; industry collaboration; and community development programs. Over the past 15 years, in partnership with Conservation International, we have verified our coffee supply chain as 99% ethically sourced. C.A.F.E. practices ensure a long-term supply of high quality, sustainable coffee for our customers, and positively impact the lives and livelihoods of coffee farmers and their families. 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.
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