Coffee, Starbucks & Costa Rica


Yesterday we were compelled to link to an illustration that captured the importance of vigilance. Putting that link in context was the reminder that our primary purpose on this platform is to seek out evidence of progress related to environmental and social innovation.

kgGVpXmJ-6720-4480Today a case in point. Credit is due to Starbucks. Just a couple days ago our vigilance antennae were roused by their opening in Yosemite, one more step in a national park system compromised by commercialism. There is no doubt that Starbucks is commercial, but they can also be model corporate citizens when seen from another angle.

tMOCnNCo-5246-2623Costa Rica provides evidence in favor of Starbucks. Their recently opened facility–a combined working coffee farm, milling operation, visitor center, cafe, gift shop–called Hacienda Alsacia looks like a win-win for a country that deserves attention and investment, and a company that can provide them both of those.


I plan to visit the property next week, so will save my commentary, focusing here on what makes me want to visit:

Starbucks Opens World Renowned Costa Rican Coffee Farm to Visitors

A 46,000-square foot visitor center immerses guests in the entire life cycle of sustainably grown, high-quality arabica coffee from seedling to picking, milling, roasting and the craft of brewing in a café

Starbucks approach to ethical sourcing and innovative coffee tree hybrid research also showcased at the visitor center, part of the company’s $100 million investment in an open-sourced farmer support program to help make coffee the world’s first sustainably sourced agriculture product

…Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ: SBUX) opens the doors to its Visitor Center at Hacienda Alsacia, located on the company’s 600-acre (240 hectare) coffee farm on the slopes of the Poas volcano in Costa Rica. Hacienda Alsacia is a working farm that has served as a global research and development facility for Starbucks since 2013. Now open to the public, visitors will have the chance to experience coffee from seed to cup and see firsthand the agronomy work the company has been supporting and investing in for more than two decades.

“Much like the premium retail experiences we are designing around the world, the Visitor Center at Hacienda Alsacia is a fully immersive space and now, for the first time ever, Starbucks is connecting our customers to the entire coffee ecosystem from seedling to the craft of brewing,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks executive chairman.

Designed by Starbucks in-house design team known for creating the “third place” experience in its Starbucks stores and its premium Reserve Roasteries, this 46,000-square foot Visitor Center is an experiential environment helping to educate visitors on the full coffee ecosystem. Visitors can tour the space on their own or with a guide, discovering everything from a coffee seedling nursery to a greenhouse with new, disease-resistant coffee varietals, coffee fields with ripe cherries at harvest, in addition to a wet mill and drying patio. These hands-on experiences culminate at a Starbucks café where coffee from Hacienda Alsacia is roasted fresh onsite and served using multiple brewing methods. The menu is inspired by Starbucks premium Reserve brand.

“Our farm allows us to learn firsthand the ongoing complexities that coffee farmers face in order to accelerate our comprehensive approach to ethical sourcing,” said Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks. “Now more than ever, we must ensure the future of coffee through sustainable practices so that it is available for generations to come.”

Over the last two decades, Starbucks has developed its approach to ethical sourcing with Conservation International. During this time, the company has achieved significant milestones including:

  • Verifying 99% of Starbucks coffee as ethically sourced as of 2015
  • Creating a farmer support center network in nine locations around the world, each of which provides on-the-ground agronomy support for all coffee farmers, whether Starbucks purchases from them or not
  • Donating thousands of seedlings from five different coffee tree hybrids developed through its research with ICAFE, Costa Rica’s coffee institute
  • Donating 30 million rust-resistant coffee trees with a goal of 100 million distributed by 2025
  • Financing a Global Farmer Fund that will provide $50 million in short- and long-term farmer loans, with more than $22 million distributed to date

All this work is in support of the goal to make coffee the world’s first sustainably sourced agricultural product. In 2015, Starbucks became a founding member of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a growing coalition of more than 90 diverse industry, NGO and government organizations led by Conservation International. The Sustainable Coffee Challenge is convening the sector to sustain the future supply of coffee while helping to ensure the prosperity and well-being of farmers and workers and conserving forests, water and soil…

Read the whole story here.


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