Why clean water is so important for coffee communities
Learn how you’re helping coffee communities through Starbucks Reserve
Four flights in 36 hours. To say Ann Traumann’s journey to Papua New Guinea was a long one would be an understatement.
She traveled there this summer to buy specialty coffee for the Starbucks Reserve® platform. But she also had the experience of a lifetime. A chance to celebrate with an inspiring coffee-growing community. After months of work, an expanded water system was complete, providing much-needed access to clean water. We’re happy and honored to have helped with the project through Starbucks Reserve.
“It was a really important and unforgettable moment,” she said.
When it comes to the countries where we source coffee, Papua New Guinea is one of the most exotic.
Located off Northern Australia, the island nation of around six million people is slightly bigger than California. At least 800 tribal languages are spoken. Many of the roads are unpaved. The terrain is rugged and mountainous.
Much of the coffee is wild-grown on small plots. In these coffee gardens, it’s not uncommon for farmers to also grow vegetables and other staples.
“Papua New Guinea is not comparable with another origin. It is a unique, wild and fascinating country,” said Ann, our Starbucks Reserve coffee buyer.
At the center of several coffee communities in the Eastern Highlands is a remarkable woman named Moanti Ise.
“She is a wonder woman,” Ann said.
“To go and see this woman...she has so much respect from the entire community,” Ann said.
Ann says to have a woman leading a coffee supply chain is a rare thing in Papua New Guinea. But in this community, there’s a different mentality, and it’s because of Moanti.
Traditionally, coffee farmers in Papua New Guinea sell their coffee individually. But Moanti found selling coffee collectively could help bring value to the farmers and she started her coffee network. By coming together, they were stronger.
“She’s not just helping the producer get better prices. She’s also changing the lives in all of the community,” Ann said.
Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to give back to Moanti and her coffee network. It’s part of our commitment through Starbucks Reserve to invest in coffee communities as we’re sourcing these rare, small-lot coffees.
We teamed up with the local suppliers and community members to help build a clean water supply. Before the filtration system and water tanks and four taps were installed, people used to walk high into the mountains to get clean water.
“It was really hard conditions,” Ann said.
But our work wasn’t done. When we purchased Starbucks Reserve® Papua New Guinea Luoka coffee, we funded a second phase of the project. It added 17 water taps in seven communities. The project, which was completed in June, also created two water tanks and a filtration system. Now, a total of 800 households in the area have access to clean water.
“When we reached the village, the car’s windows were opened. I heard a lot of noise. It was their songs,” Ann recalled. “At this instant, I knew that this moment would stay in my mind for a long time.”
They welcomed her with a colorful, festive ceremony filled with dance and song. They also gave a short performance, which demonstrated the strenuous way they used to collect water. And several farmers and community members gave speeches, expressing their thanks.
She says to see the smiles on their faces that day was “priceless.”
“Several times, my eyes were full of tears. This job of being a Reserve buyer is not only sourcing the best coffee. There are so many impactful and lovely things behind, such as helping the community where we are sourcing to improve their livelihoods,” Ann said. “Not all specialty roasters are doing what Starbucks does.”
In this area, coffee is one of the main cash crops for families. Access to clean water can have a significant impact for farmers.
“It’s important to have clean water in terms of the quality of the coffee and for the quality and health of the farmers,” Ann said.
With improved coffee quality often comes higher prices. And higher prices can help producers better provide for their family.
Starbucks Reserve coffee buyer