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The move is part of a larger initiative to make coffee sustainable.

Mike Pomranz
April 18, 2017

Money doesn’t grow on trees. But coffee does (or at least coffee fruit does). And as Starbucks has proved repeatedly, coffee is a great way to make money. So in an effort to continue to support coffee farmers, Starbucks has announced plans to get 100 million healthy coffee trees to the farmers who need them by 2025.

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“Healthy” is an important adjective in this initiative. According to Starbucks, many coffee trees around the world are seeing their productivity decline, not just due to age but also due to an increased susceptibility to disease thanks to global warming. Coffee leaf rust has been particularly troublesome, so the new trees can be selected from hopefully more rust-resistant breeds. “We have heard directly from farmers that healthy trees are what they need now, more than ever, so this long-term approach coupled with the right resources directly correlates to the stability of their family as well as the future of coffee,” Cliff Burrows, Starbucks’ group president of Global Coffee, said in a statement.

Starbucks says this expanded tree pledge is an extension of its existing One Tree for Every Bag initiative, launched in September 2015, which promises that for every bag of coffee purchased in participating stores, a new tree will be planted. That program has already led Starbucks to donate 25 million trees – and with the amount of Starbucks coffee people drink, may leave you wondering if the whole planet will one day be coffee trees. For now, however, the coffee giant is looking to distribute the trees at a steady pace of 10 million seedlings per year. (Thus, since the program began in 2015, basic math gets us to the 100 million goal by 2025.) Currently, seedlings are coming from supplier nurseries set up in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, though the company says its looking “to develop new supplier nurseries in additional coffee regions that would benefit from re-planting.” Central America has been hit especially hard by a coffee rust epidemic in recent years, so it’s a sensible place to start.

Additionally, Starbucks says its promise to donate 100 million trees is part of an even larger initiative: The Sustainable Coffee Challenge. That organization is dedicated to making coffee the first sustainable agricultural product in the world, and recently announced an industry-wide effort to replant one billion coffee trees. Seriously, guys, we aren’t going to without our caffeine.