Starbucks' Digital Traceability Tool Tracks Coffee Bean Origins

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Starbucks' Digital Traceability Tool Tracks Coffee Bean Origins

By Lisa Johnston - 08/20/2020

Starbucks has expanded its digital traceability tool tracking the origin of its coffee beans, advancing the company's sustainability ambitions. 

The company first piloted the technology in 2018 with farmers in Costa Rica, Colombia and Rwanda. Now the company offers consumers the ability to trace the origins of their coffee using their smartphones to learn more about its journey from farm to cup. By scanning a code on the coffee bag or entering a serial number, a mobile app will reveal details about where the coffee is grown, as well as country and citizen information.  

Developed in partnership with Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain Service, the traceability tool intends to educate retail partners and about the product and highlight the people who are growing it. It also provides tasting notes, brewing recommendations and insights from store partners.

“We’ve always known where our coffee comes from as part of CAFE Practices, our responsible sourcing program, but now, with this tool we have the opportunity to transparently share that information with everyone,” said Michelle Burns, senior VP, global coffee, tea and cocoa at Starbucks. “Every coffee has a story to tell, and I could not be more excited for people to be more connected to the whole coffee experience, from bean to cup, and meet the many people whose hard work, time and attention makes coffee possible.”

Starbucks’ CAFE Practices launched in 2004 as a set of social, economic, environmental and quality guidelines for how coffee should be ethically sourced. It was developed in collaboration with non-profit Conservation International, which also helped collect feedback from coffee farmers to help Starbucks further leverage traceability.

“With this platform we also have opportunity to share more information with coffee producers about where their coffee went and what it became,” said Abigail Kroon, Starbucks traceability manager. “For many farmers growing coffee is more than just a job, it’s their passion and their life’s work – work that is celebrated and enjoyed around the world.”

Ethical Bean, the fair-trade and organic coffee roaster that includes a QR code on every bag to facilitate traceability, has expanded its footprint within the United States.

The Procter & Gamble Company will have global access to a scientific information solutions portfolio that is expected to inform its business strategy, and fuel efficient R&D.

Jim Andrew has been named chief sustainability officer at PepsiCo, replacing the retiring Simon Lowden.