Ensuring Ethically Sourced Coffee
Ever wonder how a company as big as Starbucks knows that the coffee it purchases, even from a small farm in Guatemala, is ethically sourced? We have industry-leading programs, systems and processes in place to track our purchases, but a lot also comes down to the people.
Last week I was in beautiful Antigua, Guatemala - surrounded by coffee farms and volcanoes - attending a Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices verifier training. The training was led by Scientific Certification Systems, the company Starbucks has worked with since 2003 to train and oversee the verification organizations, whose people visit the coffee farms around the world that sell their coffee to Starbucks. There were over 30 participants who play critical roles in verifying that the coffee we source meets the comprehensive C.A.F.E. Practices standards in countries throughout Latin America, including Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Honduras. C.A.F.E. Practices is a set of coffee buying guidelines for farmers for the responsible production and processing of coffee, including both social and environmental field practices.
We started the training week with a coffee tasting by Jessie from the Costa Rica Farmer Support Center. We tasted Starbucks® Anniversary Blend, which includes aged coffee beans from Indonesia. This was the first time many participants had tasted coffee from other parts of the world. It was a great way to emphasize the importance of Starbucks commitment to quality coffee and ethical sourcing practices.
As we did a round of introductions it was amazing to see how many participants have a long history of working with C.A.F.E. Practices. We even had one inspector who started conducting C.A.F.E. Practices verifications at the very beginning of the program in 2003.
It is these folks, working directly with coffee farmers of all size farms, who are helping us continually come closer to meeting our goal of ensuring that 100% of our coffee meets our ethical sourcing commitments by 2015.