Starbucks is distributing coffee beans it developed to protect supply from climate change effects

Starbucks is distributing coffee seeds they developed to better survive the impacts of climate change for both their suppliers and farmers globally.

The six types of climate-resistant coffee tree varietals are naturally resistant to diseases like coffee leaf rust as well as some impacts of climate change, according to the company.

"We worked really closely with our agronomy team, and they developed six varietals that have special features around quality, productivity, taste, higher yield," a Starbucks spokesperson told USA TODAY.

The company said some of their goals with this program is to share these trees and seeds with the global coffee sector as well as teach farmers about the plant's characteristics. The program also evaluates environmentally safe techniques to control pests and diseases.

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The agronomy team planted several types of varietals and hybrids, monitoring them for at least six generations before they were ready for distribution, which takes about 12 years.

"With the rising impacts of climate change, Starbucks is committed to ensuring the future of coffee. We have a responsibility to care for the entire supply chain and the many people who make coffee possible, from bean to cup, farmer to customer," the spokesperson wrote in the statement. "At Starbucks, we believe our varietals program is key to a healthy supply of coffee and our business for the next 50 years."

The six arabica coffee varietals Starbucks is developing

These are the six coffee trees and seeds Starbucks is distributing after being monitored for years.



Flavor Profile


San Isidro 35


Melon, honey, sugar cane

"a cross between the Timor Hybrid CIFC 832/2 and Villa Sarchí"

San Isidro 48


Chocolate, almonds, walnut and caramel

"a selection of Typica"

San Roque

Pure Line

Citrus, lemon, chocolate and caramel with a dense sweetness

"a hybrid of theTimor hybrid (CIFC 832/2) and Villa Sarchi"

San Isidro 6


Sweet, fruity, citrus, orange, herbal, floral

"a "hybrid of Timor CIFC 832/2 and Villa Sarchí"

San Isidro 49


Honey, walnut and vanilla

"A cross between theTimor Hybrid (CIFC832/2) and Villa Sarchi



Citrus, sweet, notes ofhoney

"A cross between theTimor Hybrid(CIFC832/2) and Villa Sarchi"

How is climate change impacting coffee supply?

Arabica and robusta are the two most common types of coffee beans consumed globally. Compared to a robusta bean's grainy and bitter taste, Arabica beans carry a smoother flavor with lower acidity.

Arabica also make up 70% of global coffee production, according to a 2022 study published in the Cureus journal. Starbucks, which uses the beans at around 37,000 Starbuck locations worldwide, said "arabica has a refined flavour with higher acidity and more complexity."

However, these beans have become susceptible to premature ripening and crop loss due to their sensitivity to rising temperatures.

A 2019 study showed that 75 coffee species, including arabica and robusta, are considered threatened with extinction.

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How else is Starbucks protecting coffee supply from climate change?

For years Starbucks has said it is devoted to ethical sourcing. Below are some of the examples the company highlighted:

  • Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices - Launched in 2004, the verification program measures farms against an economic, social and environmental criteria to help promote sustainable coffee growing practices.

  • Farmer Support Centers - These centers offer free training to farmers and technical specialists that teach them how to support profitability and sustainable growing practices.

  • 100 Million Coffee Tree Commitments - The company's 10-year initiative is meant to boot the output and quality of coffee crops in regions like El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico by 2025. The program is designed to help farmers improve their coffee farms and increase their output.

This story has been updated to correct where the 2022 study was published.

A Starbucks sign outside a Starbucks coffee shop in downtown Pittsburgh on June 26, 2019.
A Starbucks sign outside a Starbucks coffee shop in downtown Pittsburgh on June 26, 2019.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Starbucks develops coffee beans to protect supply from climate change