Carlos Mario, head of Starbucks global research and development, tinkers with more than 600 coffee varietals at Hacienda Alsacia, Starbucks farm in Costa Rica, and shares the best with farmers – no strings attached – through our open-source agronomy initiative.
The research and development taking place at Hacienda Alsacia Starbucks Coffee Farm to help ensure there is a supply of coffee in the future, is led by Carlos Mario Rodriguez, director of global agronomy for Starbucks, who spends most of his working hours tinkering with trees that have the potential to yield innovative solutions for the future.
Creating new varietals is painstaking work that demands patience: agronomists here select promising plants, establish a plot and then wait. And wait. And wait.
It takes 10 to 15 years to see which are strongest and most productive.
Out of the 600 lines of coffee varietals here on our farm, close to 30 climate-tolerant hybrids have been developed that meet Starbucks high-quality and size criteria.
Agronomists scrutinize the cherries by processing, drying and preparing samples of coffee cherries, which are roasted then cut open to determine their acidity and complexity.
Over 3 million seeds have been donated each year, from the research and development work based out of our R&D facilities at our farm, to coffee producers all around the world.
The donations come with no strings attached. Farmers don't have to sell coffee to Starbucks. Our main goal is to support all farmers, improve living conditions and to support the coffee sector overall.
“It’s the best part really when you start working with a particular farmer and you can see that they are improving their living conditions and being able to keep producing coffee as a good business,” Rodriguez says. “That’s the best. It’s really something that motivates us.”