Starbucks agronomist Carlos Mario Rodriguez crouches down in a nursery full of coffee plants, inspecting row upon row of bright green seedlings under the azure Costa Rican sky. He has spent the last two decades helping farmers around the world on how to grow high quality, arabica coffee.
This need has become more urgent for the specialty coffee industry as a result of the variables that come with climate change. Farmers and their families, who once expected to have a predictable number of coffee cherries to sell, cannot always rely on that any more.
“Being a coffee farmer is increasingly hard. It’s why I spend my days in the coffee fields helping farmers consider new ways to grow coffee that are more sustainable, long term,” said Rodriguez. “In particular, this hot weather means an increase in coffee rust, a fungus that damages millions of coffee trees around the world, making it harder for farmers to produce high-quality coffee.”
Coffee trees that offer rust resistance are at the heart of Starbucks One Tree for Every Bag commitment launched in September, on National Coffee Day. At that time, the company pledged to plant one rust-resistant coffee tree for each bag of packaged coffee purchased in U.S. Starbucks stores through September 2016.
In just the first month of the program, Starbucks customers have purchased one million bags of coffee. Combined with Starbucks initial investment of one million trees, this means that two million coffee trees are already slated to be distributed next harvest to farming communities in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.
But the potential impact is much greater.
If the last month is any indication, this program is well on its way to making sure that more than 12 million coffee trees are planted in sourcing regions around the world. This becomes a tangible impact to an industry that relies on millions of farmers and their families to ensure specialty coffee is available for generations to come.
Starbucks is working with Sustainable Management Services, Starbucks partner in the export and delivery of green coffee, to germinate the seedlings and distribute the trees. Starbucks has committed to planting a coffee tree for every bag of coffee purchased in participating U.S. stores through September 2016. The distribution of each coffee tree will be supported by Starbucks Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, developed over a decade ago with Conservation International to safeguard responsible purchasing practices and economic, social and environmental standards. CI is working with Starbucks to put in place safeguards to ensure fairness and compliance so that each purchase helps to make sure Starbucks coffee is produced in a way that is sustainable, transparent, and good for people and the planet. The program is part of Starbucks long-term commitment to the sustainability of coffee-growing communities and achieving one hundred percent ethically sourced coffee.
“Our company really cares about our coffee farmers, the living conditions of their families and the environmental sustainability,” Rodriguez said. “Our open-source strategy is unique, and we are inviting other companies to adopt this model as a way to benefit the global coffee sector.”
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. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at Starbucks.com and the Starbucks Newsroom.
About One Tree for Every Bag Commitment
Starbucks will contribute 70 cents, the average cost of a tree, to Conservation International for every bag of coffee sold from participating stores in the U.S. to foster thriving coffee communities. To learn more, visit conservation.org.
For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom