You have arrived at the home of Ecstatic Expression Studios. I, Jimmy Canali am the artist and creative producer. I want to invite you to believe that you are infinitely creative. In fact, that’s what Ecstatic Expression’s heart beat is, to take people into an expressive and ecstatic experience of who they really are.
A new change is coming to EE website galleries and blog this fall and winter. I am going to be rolling out a new format of blogging and posting art and provoking people to think outside of their culture box and circumvent the limitations that surround them.
This site is a home for your creativity to be expressed, for you to find your voice, and to meet with people and be inspired! Read through the blogs, and interact with the initiatives. It starts here on the blogs, but will roll out into creative meet ups around the world, where creatives can come together to express.
This is the first coffee post I have written on Ecstatic Expression. This is a longer article, but if you are interested in coffee talk, there is more coming. I have been thinking about how to incorporate all the great stuff that is going on in the coffee and cafe world where I work, so I thought I would start with an initial post on ethical sourcing for those of you who asked. I look forward to bringing a coffee and business leadership dimension to Ecstatic Expression over this next year (as I revamp the site in general). So grab a cup of coffee and let’s begin.
Jimmy’s Coffee Beginnings
I had my first sip of coffee from my parents coffee at a young age, while I was living in upstate New York. Disturbed by this brew, mainly because it wasn’t that good it would be another ten years till coffee and myself would move beyond gas station vacation drinks.
At sixteen I got my start in the coffee and culinary world at a local shop in where I was then living Greeley, CO, called the Bread Board Bakery and Cafe. It was then that I had my first sip of Lavazza Espresso. Lavazza is a 100 year old Italian coffee company. The espresso was ok, I remember when I took a shot of it though, it was like crossing a threshold, I had crossed a line into a world of coffee.
Years later, in 2013 I started working with Starbucks. I was attracted to the culture, the high class catering to customers, and the rich coffee history, and respect the company had for it’s partners.
It was at my first store just down from the Colorado Rockies baseball stadium in Denver, CO that I met my first coffee master. My friend Ethan, showed me how to taste coffee, told me stories of how coffee got it’s beginnings and led me through the differences in each bean.
Coffee masters for those who are wondering is a program that takes a barista through an intense course about coffee growing, coffee history, coffee processing, and coffee roasting. So when you see a Starbucks partner in a black apron you can ask those coffee questions you have always wondered about.
Last week June 25th, I led a seminar as part of “the last ten feet” of my coffee master certification. I talked largely about ethical sourcing and Starbucks role in creating a new standard for the coffee industry around ethical sourcing. I tackled questions like why is all of Starbucks coffee not Fair Trade? What is Fair Trade coffee? What about organic certified coffee? What are Starbucks souring principles?
In this post I will give an overview of what I discussed, and hopefully build some conversation around coffee, with the Ecstatic Expression, Starbucks, and online coffee community.
The big themes I have learned about coffee and about Starbucks is that coffee is all about relationships, relationships with plants, with people and with the planet…It’s bigger than coffee, but coffee is where we connect.
Start with this video:
First I want to cover the roles involved in growing coffee and the different type of farmers and suppliers we do business with as Starbucks.
Introducing the players on the coffee network:
Introduce the players in the coffee network: SSC: Starbucks Support Center—leadership HQ, and the base of Green Coffee Quality Team.
GCQ: Seattle, Washington
Coffee product development
Determines standards for coffee and business needs for blends
SCTC –Starbucks Coffee Trading Company in Switzerland
Responsible for global purchase of coffee
Negotiating contracts for the purchase of coffee
On the ground team of experts in soil, crop production and processing coffee.
Help implement our ethical guidelines for coffee producers.
Types of Farms and Suppliers:
Smallholder farms—majority of coffee is grown on farms 5–12 acres big, but can be bigger around 70-100acres.
Consist of 100–15,000 farms that join together to help promote and sell their coffee.
These groups are centered around a mill or processing facility.
Note: Coffee is grown on trees and its fruit ripens to look like a cherry, once harvested it is sent to a processing facility, which removes the pulp of the fruit off the green coffee bean.
Estates – combining farming and processing.
Exporters—buy from all the farms and can often be helpful for all parties.
Where the coffee crop has come from over the last 100 years:
Soon after Kaladi discovered coffee in Ethopia around 800 AD, it was proliferated in the Arab world (more on coffee origin in another post), and it spread and grew from there.
However, here began the abuse that the “powerful” nations of the time instilled with horrible practices that would last centuries.
A snap shot of this can be seen in the Brazilian population in the mid 19th century which grew to one-third slaves, over a million slaves in forced labor.
Then in Guatemala –the indigenous (Mayan Toltec) people destroyed and forced into “penal colonies”
For the most part where coffee went—slave labor and human abuse followed
Telling a Different Story
Starbucks™ Shared Planet™ is the banner of our focused initiatives in the core areas where we have the biggest influence – ethical sourcing, environmental stewardship and community involvement.
One big piece of our story in global conservation is through our ethical sourcing—how we buy and do business with coffee suppliers.
There are 5 major components of Starbucks Ethical Sourcing
First paying a premium price that high quality Arabica coffee deserves.
Arabica coffee isn’t about a geographical location but a species of high altitude coffee typically grown 1500 feet and above.
Arabica makes up for 60% of the global purchase of coffee.
While Robusta beans makes up 40%. Robusta beans are grown because they are easier to maintain and are cheaper, however, they are incredibly inferior in taste and flavor profile.
Our goal is to have a win-win and build long-term relationships.
The second component is providing affordable credit.
Coffee is a seasonal crop; coffee farmers often experience a shortage of cash before their harvests.
We support non-profits and other organizations that provide affordable credit to farmers allowing them not to abandon their crop or sell before the coffee crop peak, increasing their overall profit.
Third component is Ethical Buying Guidelines
A big part of initial work with the non-profit Conservation International was creating ethical buying guidelines as well as farmer practices.
We call them by the acronym C.A.F.E practices standing for Coffee and Farmer Equity practices.
Which have 24 social and environmental criteria with more than 200 indicators that are inspected by third parties. (99% of our coffee is now ethically sourced as of 2014).
There are 4 parts of our Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices:
The first two per-requisites…
Product Quality (it must be high quality Arabica beans that meet our taste standards for each growing region).
Economic Accountability –Transparency is essential – suppliers are required to submit evidence of payments made for green coffee (un-roasted) coffee throughout the coffee supply chain, including receipts that show much was directly paid to farmers for their coffee.
The second two are evaluated, measured, and can have the help of Farmer Support Centers.
Social Responsibility – which includes creating humane working conditions, protecting the rights of workers, paying minimum wage and addressing any child or forced labor/discrimination issues.
Environmental leadership—measures must be in place to manage waste, protect water quality, conserve water and energy, preserving biodiversity and reducing chemical use.
The fourth part of Ethical sourcing is a focus on organic and certified organic. Which is the when no pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or chemical fertilizers were used during the growing process.
Organic farming aims to develop ecosystems capable of managing pests, diseases, and competing vegetation naturally.
It can be incredibly expense and farmers can lose up to half their production converting to certified organic, all the while meeting Starbucks taste standards. However, organic practices are constantly used when growing coffee and seeking improvement that’s sustainable and healthy.
The fifth part of Ethical Sourcing of Coffee is our continued partnership with Conservation International.
Starbucks in 1998 began a relationship with the globally recognized non-profit Conservation International.
We continue to develop projects to tackle global climate change and protect surrounding environments where coffee is grown; they do this with calculated and focused projects on a very large scale.
Starbucks and first teamed on a project in Mexico in one of there natural reserves to protect 300,000 acres of rainforest and a rich coffee growing community.
Part of that is using practices to grow Arabica coffee trees in partial shade under the canopy of trees, which is the best environment for supporting bio-diversity as well as the coffee, rather than plowing down the forest.
The goal of Fair-Trade certification is to:
Empower smallholder farmers belonging to cooperatives to invest in farms and communities.
Protect the environment.
Develop the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace.
We are the largest purchaser of Fair-Trade Certified Coffee in the specialty coffee world.
The reason not all of Starbucks coffee is fair-trade certified is multi-fold.
Fair-trade deals largely just with Co-operatives and the development of Farmers in Cooperatives (though there are initiatives for smallholder farms they are starting).
Fair-trade covers one section of the coffee bean journey while Starbucks has a holistic approach that goes throughout from seed to cup and out into communities.
99% of Starbucks coffee was certified by a third party as been ethically sourced with C.A.F.E. practices in 2014.
We also have opened up how we source our coffee to the coffee world at large and it has laid a foundation for third wave coffee.
Shared Planet Wrap Around
Where we buy our food is one of our largest and loudest political, social, and environmental votes we can take everyday. It matters.
I want encourage debate, conversation, and education. This is just an intro, and I am still learning.
It’s bigger than coffee, but coffee is where we connect.