Ten Years of Impact at Hacienda Alsacia

June 15, 2023

3 min read

Celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Hacienda Alsacia — Starbucks working farm and home to global research and development — and learn about the impact it's had on Starbucks partners (employees), farmers and the coffee industry around the world.

Hacienda Alsacia in Costa Rica is Starbucks first and only company-operated coffee farm, with more than 800,000 coffee trees growing over 240 hectares on the slopes of Poas Volcano. Purchased in 2013, the farm is now headquarters to the Starbucks Costa Rica Farmer Support Center – originally opened in 2004 and now one of 10 around the world – and Starbucks Global Research and Development team.

At the farm, the goal is to help solve the many challenges stressing coffee-farming communities around the world – issues like climate change, aging farmer populations and coffee rust. That’s done by creating new disease- and climate-resistant coffee varietals, modeling and developing best agronomy practices that are disseminated to the other Starbucks Farmer Support Centers, working with farmers to help them understand how to assess the taste and quality of their coffee, and acting as a convening place for coffee experts and Starbucks partners (employees).

There’s state-of-the-art coffee-processing equipment that uses less water and energy compared to traditional coffee processing methods, housing facilities for farm workers, and a visitor center, where almost 100,000 people have taken in-person tours. More than 1,700 partners have visited the farm for Starbucks Origin Experiences to immerse in the story of coffee at its source. And more than 280,000 farmers around the world have received training around sustainability and ethical sourcing with information developed at Hacienda Alsacia.

Following the Journey at Hacienda Alsacia

2023: Starbucks announces plans to build a new sustainability, learning and innovation lab at Hacienda Alsacia, offering hands-on and virtual programming for Starbucks partners, farmers, students, researchers and industry leaders to innovate and scale solutions for some of the world’s most challenging social and environmental issues.

2023: Starbucks distributes 2 million seedlings – disease- and climate-resistant varietals that were developed at Hacienda Alsacia - for free to coffee farmers in Costa Rica who participate in C.A.F.E. (Coffee and Farmer Equity) Practices, one of the coffee industry’s first ethical sourcing standards, which launched in 2004. More than 98 percent of Starbucks coffee is C.A.F.E. Practices verified by a third-party auditor. To date, Starbucks has donated nearly 90 million seedlings to farmers in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.

2022: Hacienda Alsacia distributes more than 1,000 kilograms of free coffee seeds through an open-source agronomy initiative to farmers in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Rwanda and Tanzania. Because of this program, which started in 2016, farmers can request and receive seeds whether they sell to Starbucks or not.  

2022: Electric Vehicle charging station installed at Hacienda Alsacia, as part of Starbucks commitment to a sustainable future.  

2021: Starbucks launches a virtual tour of Hacienda Alsacia, which has received more than 300,000 visitors to date, allowing the farm to share its research and experiences with more partners, students and visitors. 

2018: The Hacienda Alsacia Visitor Center opens to the public. Almost 100,000 people have taken the in-person tour so far.

2016: The Wet Mill renovation is completed. New facilities, equipment and research at Hacienda Alsacia have unlocked the ability to process coffee with 80 percent less water and 50 percent less energy, compared to traditional methods.  

2016: Carlos Mario Rodriguez, Starbucks director of Global Research and Development, is named one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business.” Rodriguez has helped cultivate Starbucks core collection, which includes more than 600 different coffee hybrids and varietals. He and his team identify those with the best combination of good taste, high productivity and resistance to disease and climate change.

2015: Starbucks hosts its first global agronomy summit, bringing together coffee suppliers, farmers and partners from the global Farmer Support Centers to discuss topics such as: new varietals research, soil analysis, pest and disease control and equipment innovation.  

2014: Starbucks starts to bring partners to Origin Experience at Hacienda Alsacia, to immerse in the story of coffee, beginning at the source. Almost 2,200 partners have visited Origin in Costa Rica, including 800 in 2023. More than 1,600 additional partners have experienced similar coffee origin programs in Rwanda and Indonesia. 

2013: Starbucks purchases Hacienda Alsacia, at the time a coffee and ornamental fern farm on the slopes of the Poas Volcano, less than an hour away from Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose. Hacienda Alsacia’s mission is to help farmers grow more coffee more sustainably, develop stronger and higher quality varietals and hybrids, and freely share information with farmers around the world.

The People Behind the Coffee

“Hacienda Alsacia means a before and after in my knowledge and way of understanding things.”

Ivan Alpizar, coffee farmer in Costa Rica who has received significant training at Hacienda Alsacia 

“I’m a fourth-generation coffee farmer, coffee is in my blood. I love the connection with the farmers, but at the same time, I love making this connection through new tools, new varieties, new solutions.”  

Sara Bogantes, Starbucks agronomist   

“There is a plot of coffee trees (at Hacienda Alsacia) that is very unique. We planted hybrid trees here in 2018 to demonstrate what the future can look like. We call this 'Paradise' – where branches are so thick with cherries that we have more than five times the average production of Costa Rica. The coffee cherries look more like corn cobs than coffee trees. The information we have, we share open-sourced with farmers, free.” 

Victor Trejos, general manager, Hacienda Alsacia 

“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. That’s the best. It’s really something that motivates us.”  

Carlos Mario Rodriguez, Starbucks director of global research and development 

“When we went to go pick the cherries at the coffee farm, we saw the physical labor that went into it, how long it took to even fill a quarter of the basket. It was hard, and very hot outside. It was a lot of work. Every single shot that goes into every beverage we make, it’s perspective on just how much work goes into what we’re trying to produce.”  

Bella Ledesma, shift supervisor, San Antonio, Texas, and Origin Experience 2023 participant 

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