Don't Miss Out

Subscribe to OCA's News & Alerts.

Protest Starbucks

Starbucks to Double Coffee Purchases from East Africa: Company Implements Quasi-Fair Trade Program

Starbucks Coffee Company, the world's largest coffee store chain, said it will double its coffee purchases in East Africa by 2009.

The Seattle-based company purchases, roasts and markets whole bean coffee and a variety of pastries and confections from its 13,000 coffee houses in 39 countries around the world. In 2006, Starbucks purchased 294 million pounds of coffee globally, with 6 percent sourced from Africa.

Starbucks said it will also set up a new Farmer Support Center in East Africa, following the success of the first Farmer Support Center in Costa Rica. The company will also offer coffee producers micro-financing loans totaling $1 million.

"East Africa is not only the birthplace of coffee and the origin of some of the finest coffees in the world, its coffee trade is tied to the well-being and economic development of the region's countries and people," said Dub Hay, senior vice president, coffee and procurement.

The company has also introduced its Cafe Practice program in Africa, which calls for long term relationships and extra premiums paid as a reward for quality and responsible farming.

Through Cafe Practice, Starbucks will be buying coffee on a preferential basis from farmers who meet the prerequisites of high quality and economic transparency.

Cafe Practice is different from Fair Trade certification, which certifies only smallholder farms, and which guarantees a minimum price to co-operatives of small-scale farmers. Starbucks is the largest purchaser of Fair Trade certified coffee in North America.

In the past, Starbucks and the Ethiopian government had clashed over the government's applications to trademark its most famous coffee names, Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe. Starbucks opposed the application, which Oxfam claimed would financially help Ethiopia and its farmers.