Coffee Origin Highlight: Sumatra

Getting to the heart of coffee culture

featuring Brady Brewer | February 1, 2016
HOME Farm to Cup Coffee Origin Highlight: Sumatra

At Starbucks we relentlessly search the world for the best coffees to create truly one of a kind experiences. But It’s not just the exotic locales or small lot farms that make these coffees special. It’s the stories behind every bean. Sumatra is no different. In this Origins segment we look at how Sumatra is a prime example of what we hope to achieve both in coffee quality and social responsibility.

Listen as Brady Brewer, svp of marketing, Category & Store Design, describes how a single fax has since turned a small farm community into a thriving coffee mecca.

Audio Recollection

Interesting Facts

Sumatra Coffee

Sumatra’s rugged island landscape is lush and extremely fertile—enriched from ash deposits leftover from one of the largest volcanic eruptions in Earth’s history. Thanks to its tumultuous geologic history, Sumatra is an agricultural paradise—spices grow in people’s yards, tropical fruits hang from countless trees, and cocoa, rice, tea, and of course coffee, all thrive.

Sumatra is an out-of-the-way place, and its remoteness means much of the coffee growing landscape is extremely rural and happens on a small scale. Coffee is often not only grown in backyards and small family plots, but much of the processing is done there as well. Cherries are picked by hand, pulped, and laid out to dry in the sun on large tarps, often on the patio of the family home. Once the beans are dried, local farmers deliver their contributions to regional mills.

High Quality

The Sumatran landscape’s rich earthiness and abundant spice is deeply reflected in its coffee. In addition to its exceptional and unique flavors, Sumatran coffee represents the pinnacle of what we hope to achieve in our quality standards.

Starbucks® Sumatra beans are Grade 1, triple-picked and are virtually defect-free. Every bean is hand-sorted by meticulous, highly experienced people—and sorted three times just to be sure. The first sort is for size (similar sized beans roast more evenly), the second for density and the third is a triple-check to thoroughly ensure that every bean, in every lot, is as high quality as possible.


Women are the backbone of Sumatra’s coffee industry—they are responsible for the bulk of the planting, growing, harvesting, and transporting of coffee. When asked how Starbucks could help the local people, most responded with maternal health. Based on the responses, Starbucks helped build free maternal healthcare clinics in Sumatra to foster both the health of the people and the flourishing of its incredible coffee.

HighlightSumatra Tiger
The inspiration for our Sumatra coffee’s bag artwork comes from the Sumatran tiger—a rare subspecies near the brink of extinction that roams the remote and rugged corners of Sumatra. The Sumatran tiger is the last remaining member of the three Sunda Islands tiger species, and it’s estimated that less than 1,000 remain in the wild.

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