Through this site and other conversations partners and customer have asked us how we connect with coffee farmers in origin country. Since 2001, Starbucks has partnered with Earthwatch Institute in Boston, MA. Earthwatch is an incredible organization and if you don’t know who they are you should check out their website at www.earthwatch.org.
Since 2007, we’ve been partnering with Earthwatch on a project in the Tarrazu Region of Costa Rica called “Sustainable Coffee Farming”. Through this project, we have the ability to send a limited number of partners and customers to Costa Rica each year to meet farmers and work along side them on their farms. Our partners and customers get to ask the questions that they’ve always wanted to ask of a coffee farmer, they get to see how coffee farmers are impacted by C.A.F.E. Practices and many other certification programs.
This is the second year of a three-year project and so far we’ve gathered a significant amount of data. This project is looking at many aspects of growing sustainable coffee and environmental impacts of growing coffee. It also connects us to our broader community and gives farmers a chance to learn about what happens to their coffee once it leaves the mill. Farmers, customers and partners end their two week adventure together with a big family-style dinner where everyone gets an opportunity to tell their story. Some Farmers stand up and say (after seeing pictures of their coffee on display in a Starbucks store) things like “I had no idea people took so much time to display coffee so carefully,” “I had no idea a customer would really care how I was treated,” etc.
You can read what customers and partners say about this amazing, often life-changing, experience by reading their blog at www.earthwatch2.org/starbucks.
We will use this forum (and others) to tell you more specifics about what we’ve learned in conjunction with Earthwatch about sustainable coffee farming practices at the end of this project.
This year we ran an essay contest to select eight partners from Starbucks in the U.S. and certain International Markets to join us on this great project. We also ran a sweepstakes online to select 20 customers from the U.S. and Canada to participate in August and September.
Stay tuned in 2009 to learn more about Earthwatch.