Starbucks Coffee Company is expanding its $70 million ethical sourcing program with a new farming research and development center in Costa Rica intended to help coffee farmers around the world mitigate climate change impact and support long-term crop stability.
The company says these programs are part of its ongoing billion-dollar commitment to ethically sourcing 100 percent of its coffee by 2015.
Starbucks will adapt this active 240-hectare farm (pictured) located on the slopes of the Poas Volcano into a global agronomy center. The work happening on this farm will enable the company to expand its Coffee and Farming Equity practices (C.A.F.E.), the ethical sourcing model developed in partnership with Conservation International to encourage social, environmental and economic standards in coffee production.
The farm will also influence the development of coffee varietals based on the insight offered through soil management processes, Starbucks says.
The company says, in total, it has invested more than $70 million in collaborative farmer programs and activities over the past 40 years, which include C.A.F.E. practices, farmer support centers, farmer loans and forest carbon projects. All of these integrated programs support improving farmer livelihoods and a long-term supply of sustainable coffee for the industry, Starbucks says.
The new facility will build on and globally scale the work currently happening at five farmer support centers worldwide in Rwanda, Tanzania, Colombia, China, as well as Starbucks first farmer support center that opened in San Jose, Costa Rica in 2004.
Starbucks farmer support centers are home to agronomists and experts working directly with farmers. By providing farmers with expertise and training in soil management, field-crop production and milling processes, these practices can improve the quality and size of the harvest. The varied elevation of the farm will allow the agronomists to test responsible growing practices while ensuring biological diversity.
In 2008 Starbucks and Conservation International began conducting impact assessments of C.A.F.E. practices on coffee farmers and communities, and in 2012 aggregated the year-over-year performance impact. For example, on average farmers employing C.A.F.E. practices saw 98 percent of farms maintaining or improving soil fertility. Of the 545 million pounds of coffee purchased by Starbucks in fiscal year 2012, across 29 countries, 93 percent of it was ethically sourced, according to the assessment.
Starbucks has signed an agreement to purchase the Costa Rican farm through a subsidiary of Starbucks Coffee Trading Company. The terms of the purchase are not being disclosed. Upon final closing in May, Starbucks will immediately begin evolving the location into a research and development facility.