Fighting Coffee Enemy #1

The Starbucks One Tree for Every Bag Commitment explained

July 22, 2016
HOME Farm to Cup Fighting Coffee Enemy #1

We love to drink coffee. It just plain tastes good. It can warm us up, cool us down or get us going. Coffee can be a bright spot on a tough day. But did you know there is an enemy threatening the future of that goodness in your cup? You might guess the biggest threat is coffee farmers aging out or rising production costs. But actually, coffee rust is the biggest problem and it is impacting the lives of thousands of farmers and their families across the globe.

But there is some good news. In 2015, Starbucks partnered with Conservation International and made a bold commitment. For every bag of coffee sold in participating Starbucks® stores in the United States, one new rust-resistant coffee tree will be provided to farmers in places most impacted by coffee rust: Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala. To date, Starbucks has donated over 15 million coffee trees to farmers who have been most impacted. Wondering how the One Tree for Every Bag commitment really works? We got the scoop here at 1912 Pike and break it down one good question at a time.

Q: What is coffee rust and how is it impacting farmers?
• Coffee rust fungus attacks the coffee trees’ leaves and causes them to fall off, halting photosynthesis and ultimately killing the tree.
• Families who once had thriving coffee crops now have to make hard choices about how to farm their land, put food on the table and keep their children in school.
• In some parts of Central America, coffee production has dropped by anywhere from 30 to 50 percent due to aging trees and coffee rust. Hear from farmers in some of the hardest hit areas here:

Q: What is the Starbucks One Tree for Every Bag Commitment?*
• For each 1 lb bag of coffee (and 1/2 lb bag of Starbucks Reserve® coffee) sold in participating Starbucks stores in the U.S., Starbucks will donate the average price of a coffee tree to foster thriving coffee communities.

Q: How does One Tree for One Bag work exactly?
• Buy a bag of your favorite Starbucks coffee.
• Starbucks buys a new, disease-resistant coffee tree seedling.
• The trees are planted on farms in Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala.
• The farms have disease-resistant, more productive coffee trees.
• Farmers can combat coffee rust.

Q: Why is Starbucks doing this?
• Coffee rust is a serious threat to coffee farmers, and one of the best ways to help is by providing healthy coffee trees to help farmers now and help ensure thriving coffee communities for years to come.

Q: Do all Starbucks coffees qualify for the One Tree for Every Bag program?
• Each bag of coffee — including Starbucks Reserve® coffees — sold at participating Starbucks stores in the US are included. K-Cup® packs, Starbucks VIA® instant coffee and coffees sold outside of our stores aren’t included at this time.

Q: Do bags of coffee bought at Starbucks inside grocery or Target stores count?
• Not at this time.

Q: Where will the coffee trees be planted?
• We’re focused on replacing coffee trees from farms most impacted by coffee leaf rust in Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Q: Why are healthy coffee trees so important? Check out these images from Starbucks coffee farm in Costa Rica:

This healthy coffee tree at Bella Vista Farm is producing ripe, red coffee cherries that will be picked within days and processed shortly after. Harvest time for coffee in Costa Rica typically lasts from September to February.
Coffee farmers are constantly cycling new trees onto the land as the production of older ones decline with age. Here, the head farmer surveys a two-year-old crop at Hacienda Alsacia.
The coffee rust fungus attacks the coffee trees’ leaves and causes them to fall off, halting photosynthesis and ultimately killing the tree.
Erik Andre’s farm, Bella Vista, was hit hard by coffee rust, which caused a significant decline in coffee production. He’s slowly replacing older trees like the one he holds above with new, rust-resistant trees.
Here’s a closer look at a tree that can no longer produce coffee due to coffee rust and nematode infestation. The time and money farmers must invest in replacing trees like these causes significant setbacks, ultimately threatening profitability of the farm.
Carlos stands in the coffee nursery at Hacienda Alsacia, where he and his team continue to develop new rust-resistant hybrids and growing techniques to share across the global network of Farmer Support Centers.
Carlos uses traditional cross pollination methods, as well as innovative growing and watering techniques, to create new rust-resistant hybrids that offer increased productivity of high-quality coffee.
Carlos inspects the Vic 2 varietal, among many others growing at Hacienda Alsacia.
These coffee seedlings have hit the one-year mark and are ready to be planted in the ground.
Banana trees offer shade to young coffee trees at Bella Vista Farm, providing even temperature and wind protection, while also reducing weeds.
Many of the trees in this area are about two years old and just starting to produce cherries. In another year or so they’ll reach full production, which they can maintain for up to two decades. While coffee trees can produce coffee for up to 25 years, the farm must constantly replace older trees to stay productive.
Carlos and farm owner Erik Andre inspect a promising new rust-resistant hybrid. This three-year-old tree is producing more coffee fruit than older varieties.
This healthy coffee tree at Bella Vista Farm is producing ripe, red coffee cherries that will be picked within days and processed shortly after. Harvest time for coffee in Costa Rica typically lasts from September to February.
Coffee farmers are constantly cycling new trees onto the land as the production of older ones decline with age. Here, the head farmer surveys a two-year-old crop at Hacienda Alsacia.
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Q: How will coffee trees get to farmers?
• We’re working with Conservation International to ensure coffee trees are successfully distributed, planted and thriving.
• The distribution of each coffee tree is supported by our long-standing tradition of supporting farmers through Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, safeguarding responsible purchasing practices, farmer support, economic, social and environmental standards globally.

Q: When will the coffee trees be planted?
•We’re currently distributing trees now. Planting timing is varied based on planting season.

Q: How much coffee will be produced by each tree?
• The average yield of a mature coffee tree is roughly a pound of finished, roasted coffee a year.

Q: Are you just giving trees to farmers who sell to you?
• Trees will be provided to farmers who sell to Starbucks and those who do not.

Q: Why doesn’t Starbucks just buy more Fairtrade certified coffee?
• Providing healthy coffee trees is the best way to help farmers whose crops have been destroyed by coffee rust.
• Starbucks is one of the largest buyers of Fairtrade coffee in the world and we have C.A.F.E. Practices which ensure 99% of our coffee is ethically sourced. Learn more here.

Q: What is Starbucks doing to ensure that coffee farmers don’t destroy forests?
• Conservation International is working with Starbucks to help ensure they are going on existing coffee farms and that farmers agree not to plant the new coffee seedlings in natural forest areas. More details here.

Q: What else is Starbucks doing to help coffee farmers?
• As part of our ongoing commitment to improving coffee farming communities around the world, Starbucks has invested more than $70 million in a comprehensive approach to ethical sourcing, supporting coffee farming communities, helping to mitigate the impact of climate change and supporting long-term crop stability and farm sustainability.
• Starbucks has a network of seven farmer support centers around the world, including Rwanda, Tanzania, Colombia, China, Costa Rica, Indonesia and Ethiopia.
• Through our Farmer Support Centers (FSCs), Starbucks experts are able to provide on-the-ground support to coffee growers, making a positive impact on the lives of farmers and their families. They also offer stability over the long-term as part of our comprehensive approach to sourcing the high quality coffee.

*Starbucks will donate $0.70, the average cost of a coffee tree, to Conservation International for every bag of coffee sold from participating Starbucks® stores in the U.S. to foster thriving coffee communities. To learn more, visit conservation.org/onetree.

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