Coffee Sourcing

We take a holistic approach to ethically sourcing coffee through responsible purchasing practices, farmer loans and forest conservation programs.

When we buy coffee this way, it helps foster a better future for farmers and a more stable climate for the planet, and it helps create a long-term supply of the high-quality beans we’ve been carefully blending, roasting and packing fresh for more than forty years.

Over the last decade, Conservation International has helped us develop buying guidelines that address our principles for ethical sourcing. Called Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, these guidelines help our farmers grow coffee in a way that’s better for both people and the planet. C.A.F.E. Practices is a comprehensive set of measurable standards focused on the following four areas:

Product Quality (requirement):
All coffee must meet Starbucks standards of high quality.

Economic Accountability (requirement):
Transparency is required. Suppliers must submit evidence of payments made throughout the coffee supply chain to demonstrate how much of the price Starbucks pays for green (unroasted) coffee gets to the farmer.

Social Responsibility (evaluated by third-party verifiers):
Measures evaluated by third-party verifiers are in place to ensure safe, fair and humane working conditions, including protecting the rights of workers and providing adequate living conditions. Compliance with minimum-wage, child labor and forced labor requirements is mandatory.

Environmental Leadership (evaluated by third-party verifiers):
Measures in place to manage waste, protect water quality, conserve water and energy, preserve biodiversity and reduce agrochemical use.


Fair Trade for a better quality of life

Fairtrade coffee empowers small-scale farmers organized in cooperatives to invest in their farms and communities, protect the environment, and develop the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace.

Starbucks began purchasing Fairtrade coffee in 2000. Since then we’ve paid over $16 million in Fairtrade premiums (on top of the purchase price of green coffee), which are used by producer organizations for social and economic investments at the community and organizational level. In addition, over $10 million was paid to Fairtrade licensing initiatives that support the international certification system (FLO-Cert), producer services and awareness building around the benefits of Fairtrade.


Certified Organic – coffee that’s better for the planet

Organic coffee is grown using methods and materials that have a lower impact on the environment. Organic farming practices help replenish and maintain soil health, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers and build biologically diverse agriculture.

Starbucks purchased close to 10 million pounds of certified organic coffee in fiscal 2011. Our organic offerings include Organic Yukon Blend and some international and Starbucks Reserve coffees.

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