April 9, 2015 Sustainability

Starbucks Verifies 99% of Coffee Ethically Sourced

Introduces Five New Rust Resistant Coffee Tree Varietals and Donates Thousands of Seeds to Costa Rican Coffee Institute

In 2015, 99% of Starbucks Coffee Supply Chain Verified as Ethically Sourced; Largest coffee retailer to achieve milestone through partnership with Conservation International


SEATTLE, April 9, 2015 – Starbucks Coffee Company (Nasdaq: SBUX) 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.

Starbucks opened its first Farmer Support Center in Costa Rica, in 2004, 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 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.  


Read Starbucks 2014 Global Responsibility Report

Learn about Starbucks work with Conservation International

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