Meet the man who helps make Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend possible

by Michelle Flandreau | October 27, 2016
HOME People Meet the man who helps make Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend possible

You could say it’s a bit of an obsession. We. Love. Sumatra. Coffee. It’s spicy and earthy. Full-bodied and herbal. And we love showcasing its distinct flavors in some of our most beloved blends, like Starbucks® Thanksgiving Blend.

Without coffee suppliers like Sam Filiaci, we wouldn’t be able to share Sumatra coffee with you. During this season of giving thanks, we’re reminded of how grateful we are for his decades-long partnership.

A Beautiful Partnership Begins

Filiaci’s coffee career dates back to his time in the Peace Corps. While serving in Kenya, he worked with several different crops — one of them was coffee.

“That's where I got my addiction, perhaps,” he said.

In the early 1990s, he helped start a coffee operation in East Timor, an island nation located northwest of Australia. There was just one problem. He had no idea who they were going to sell coffee to. So he sent out hundreds of faxes to potential buyers. One of the very first to respond was Starbucks.

Most people in the world were very afraid to go out to East Timor in those days. The coffee buyer from Starbucks within weeks planned a visit to come to East Timor and saw the potential there. That's how it all started.
-Sam Filiaci
coffee supplier

Celebrating Sumatra

Over the years, Filiaci has expanded his coffee operation. He currently supplies many Indonesian coffees to us, including coffee from Sumatra. As a coffee supplier, he works as a liaison between coffee producers and coffee buyers. Filiaci has a network of more than 44,000 individual farmers in Sumatra alone. Suppliers help provide stability and reduce risk for farmers. They also make sure millions of pounds of coffee travel safely around the world from origin to port.

“One of the great things about coffee and also working with people like Starbucks is we have a very similar mindset on the well-being of the people that supply us,” Filiaci said.

Sam was one of the first suppliers to embrace Starbucks sourcing standards, designed to responsibly grow and process coffee.

“When farmers are doing well, when they can feed and clothe their families, they're much more productive farmers,” Filiaci said.

A Thanksgiving Tradition

With Sumatra coffee as its foundation, another great partnership helped bring Starbucks® Thanksgiving Blend to life. We worked with award-winning Seattle chef Tom Douglas to create a coffee that pairs well with the entire Thanksgiving meal. Sumatra coffee gives Starbucks® Thanksgiving Blend its herbal notes. We blend it with coffee from Guatemala’s Antigua region, which provides subtle notes of spice.

Just like savory turkey and sweet pumpkin pie, Starbucks® Thanksgiving Blend has become a part of our fall traditions. And we’re thankful for the people who make it possible.

Starbucks® Thanksgiving Blend is available online and at participating stores for a limited time. You can also order it brewed in store while it lasts.

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