Starbucks Top 10 Global Stories of the Year

With more than 25,000 stores, Starbucks is in 75 countries around the globe. That means Starbucks and its partners (employees) wearing the company’s iconic green apron are a part of thousands of communities worldwide. From handcrafted beverages and immersive coffee experiences to hands-on volunteer work and programs that embrace a community’s unique needs, here are some Starbucks top stories from markets outside the U.S. in 2016.

1. First International Roastery Announced

The most premium Starbucks retail experience is its Roastery in Seattle. Since opening two years ago in Seattle, the Starbucks® Reserve Roastery has become recognized as the most dynamic and immersive coffee retail experience in the world. That experience will be shared by many more customers as Starbucks opens its next Roastery in Shanghai in 2017. In May, Starbucks announced its first international Roastery will be located along Nanjing Road (West), one of the world’s busiest shopping destinations. The Roastery will be part of the HKRI Taikoo Hui Project, Shanghai’s newest premium world-class retail, office and hotel area. In 2018, Roasteries will open in New York City and in Tokyo. Located in the Nakameguro district, an upscale neighborhood known for its exclusive boutiques and art galleries, the Japan Roastery will be designed in collaboration with Kengo Kuma, a world-renowned architect and founder of Kuma Lab at the University of Tokyo. A fifth Roastery location in Europe will be announced early next year.

2. Creating Opportunity at Starbucks First Stores in South Africa

In April, Starbucks arrived in South Africa with its first store opening in Johannesburg at the corner of Cradock Heights and Tyrwhitt Avenue in Johannesburg’s Rosebank neighborhood. The company has since opened other stores in the country. Starbucks partnered with Taste Holdings, a South African-based management group, to create the stores and new job opportunities for South Africans. Out of a working-age population of 38 million in South Africa, 22 million citizens haven’t completed high school and 8 million are jobless. Changing Lanes is a five-day program was developed by Taste Holdings and the nonprofit Khulisa Social Solutions to prepare unemployed South Africans for the workplace and to help them find jobs. Many of the store partners in South Africa have been through the Changing Lanes program.

3. A Dream More Than 30 Years in the Making

Howard Schultz walked cobblestone streets of Milan for the first time in 1983 as the marketing director of Starbucks, which then sold whole-bean coffee from a handful of stores in Seattle. Schultz went to Italy to represent the company at an international trade show. He returned with an idea that would change the trajectory of the Starbucks Coffee Company. “The Italians had created the theater, romance, art and magic of experiencing espresso,” Schultz recalled. “I was overwhelmed with a gut instinct that this is what we should be doing.” In February, Starbucks announced its will open in Italy in 2017. In this video and story, Schultz shared how the company’s history is directly linked to Milan, Verona and Italian espresso bar traditions.

4. Celebrating 20 Years of Coffee Leadership in Japan

Starbucks first international market outside of North America began in the Ginza district in a two-story retail space in 1996. Today the company has grown to more than 1,100 stores across all 47 prefectures in Japan. In addition to sharing their coffee passion, many Starbucks partners volunteer in their communities. Last year alone in Japan, partners participated in 7,000 local events and projects to further strengthen their neighborhoods. In response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan five years ago, Starbucks introduced the limited-edition Hummingbird card. Proceeds from that card in 2012, and every year since, were donated to the Michinoku Future Fund. The fund provides full academic college tuition assistance to the 1,800 children who lost their parents due to the natural disaster. The youngest child impacted by the devastation is expected to graduate from college in 2036. The Starbucks Hummingbird card has raised about 100 million yen ($1 million USD) since the program began.

5. Locally-Relevant Stores in New Markets

The twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, just north of South America’s northern coast, is known for its peach sand, lush rainforests and natural beauty. The steelpan drum was invented there in the 1930s, and its calypso sounds still fill the air. Gathering with friends to relax is a national pastime, known as “liming” in local slang. Starbucks opened its doors for the first time there in August. Other new markets for Starbucks in 2016 include Slovakia; one of South America’s most beautiful cities, Medellin; and the world-class flagship store in Cambodia. As Starbucks continues to expand its store footprint around the world, it is deeply committed to locally relevant store design in addition to being an active member of each community and a catalyst for positive change.

6. Starbucks Strengthens Its Commitment in China

2016 began as it ended for Starbucks, with the company reaffirming its commitment to growth and innovation for customers and partners in China. In January, Starbucks chairman and ceo Howard Schultz spoke with partners in Chengdu, joined by Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group. Schultz also announced a housing allowance subsidy for partners help them overcome the initial financial challenges of starting their careers and often living and working independently. Belinda Wong, who became ceo of Starbucks China in October, announced earlier in December a strategic partnership to co-create a new social gifting feature on WeChat, China’s leading mobile social communications service, in early 2017. Starbucks now operates approximately 2,500 stores in 118 cities in China and remains on track to open more than 5,000 stores in China by 2021.

7. Honoring Service, Hiring Veterans

Starbucks Canada and the True Patriot Love Foundation announced a new collaboration in 2016 that will help support veterans’ reintegration to civilian life. Each year, 5,000 men and women exit the Canadian Armed Forces looking for the next chapter in their lives. Entering the civilian workforce for the first time is a significant challenge and many require support to translate military skills into civilian jobs. Through the Coffee with a Vet program, Starbucks will provide much-needed meeting places for one-on-one networking and mentoring meetings with veterans who have successfully reintegrated into civilian life, along with larger scale events, all aimed at leading to employment and support services. Starbucks is well ahead of its commitment to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018.

8. Personalized Partner Benefits

In India, Tata Starbucks, which owns and operates Starbucks coffeehouses, has instituted a five-day work schedule, down from the country's customary six-day workweek. A first-of-its-kind initiative in the nation, it provides more than 1,200 partners with an additional 52 personal days off per year. In addition to providing greater personal flexibility, Tata Starbucks has emphasized partner development through mentorships, leadership courses, life coaching and training programs. In China, full-time Starbucks baristas and shift supervisors receive a monthly housing subsidy. These initiatives are examples of the benefits customized to meet partners needs around the world. Read about others here.

9. Barista Champions' Coffee Passion and Craft

In competitions around the world, Starbucks baristas celebrated their passion and pride for coffee while showcasing their skills. For two months this year, Ryan Wibawa practiced his coffee brewing and artistry skills every day after work for five hours. With passion for coffee and dedication to his craft, he earned the opportunity to compete in the World Brewers Cup finals. “It was like a dream come true,” said Wibawa, a Starbucks barista from Indonesia. I felt very humbled and honored to represent my country in an international competition. The experience was the best teacher.” Read more about Starbucks barista champs here and how baristas share their love of latte art around the world.

10. Supporting Coffee Farming Families for Generations to Come

For the third year, Starbucks Mexico supported an initiative the company launched in 2014 to address an ongoing threat of coffee leaf rust to farmers in the region. The initiative, called Todos Sembramos Café, which means “We All Grow Coffee,” lead to Starbucks Mexico donating a rust-resistant coffee tree to farmers in the Chiapas region for every bag of whole bean coffee purchased by customers. Coffee rust, known locally as “la roya,” is a plant fungus damaging millions of coffee trees around the world, making it difficult for farmers to produce high-quality coffee. According to Mexico’s Asociacion Nacional de Café (ANICAFE), coffee harvests have now reached their lowest volume in 45 years. Todos Sembramos Café was the inspiration for a company-wide program – Starbucks One Tree for Every Bag commitment. In just one year, the program has raised enough funds to plant 22 million coffee seedlings to replace trees that are declining in productivity due to age and disease, such as coffee-leaf rust.