MILAN – Starbucks, which accounts for approximately 3% of the world’s coffee purchases, announced last week it has developed six new climate change-resistant tree varietals and all of which produce Arabica. The new tree seeds, developed by agronomists at Starbucks’ Costa Rica farm Hacienda Alsacia, are also resistant to coffee leaf rust.
The company’s agronomy team has researched, developed, and improved hundreds of hybrids and varietals.
The announcement came during Starbucks’ first Global Coffee Week, which ran through Sunday and included announcements about sustainability goals, in-store coffee tastings and the launch of new coffee blends.
Starbucks spent a decade researching and testing these varieties, which they say deliver exceptional flavour and a high yield. The company stated that it has plans to provide these varieties to farmers around the world for free.
According to Starbucks, over the past five years, they have distributed more than three million seeds to coffee farmers in various countries through their seed program.
In addition to the seeds, Starbucks has distributed about 70 million coffee rust resistant trees to farmers, as part of its goal to give out 100 million trees by 2025.
A catalogue describing Starbucks’ six new varieties lists the flavour profile for each plant. One makes coffee with notes of melon, honey and sugar cane, while another boasts a citrus, herbal, floral flavour.
The catalogue also outlines the plant’s growing characteristics, like the altitudes at which it will survive, the plant’s size and structure, and how many years it will take until first production.
“We put our efforts up against the development of climate-resistant trees,” said Michelle Burns, Starbucks’ executive vice president of global coffee, social impact and sustainability in an interview to media. “Very specifically, developing new tree varietals in a way that ensures that they are more resistant to the impact of climate.”
“Instead of the usual three or four years, the harvest of some of the varietals we have been working with and testing is now taking place in a two-year cycle,” she added. Thanks to this accelerated timeline, Starbucks and its suppliers could enjoy a higher volume of coffee in a shorter span of time.