Starbucks is not officially in the agriculture business. A recent purchase in Costa Rica has Starbucks, The Seattle based Mega coffee company, now the owner of 600 beautiful acres of farmland they can use to test coffee growing methods.
Sitting as high as 5,500 feet above sea level and as low as 3,600 feet, the elevation variations in the land will give Starbucks some research to see how the different elevations would affect the growth of various coffee varieties. Starbucks also plans to share the research with other farmers so as to improve the entire coffee industry which is part of the solid business model of Starbucks.
Typically properties of that size, in that region, would sell in the five to ten million dollar range although the purchase price was not disclosed and Starbucks may even shell out more cash to buy more farms in the future.
One of the first orders of business is for Starbucks to look at a fungus that is attacking coffee production called “coffee rust”. Coffee rust is such an issue in Latin America that the President of Guatemala has declared a national emergency because so much of Guatemalans’ GDP (Gross Domestic Product) relies on coffee sales. A Vice-President for Starbucks has indicated that coffee rust is not an issue with the product they offer as it is coffee rust free from both their latest harvest and the next harvest they will use for the coffee in their stores.
Although coffee rust is a topic in the industry today, Starbucks is looking at their farm ventures as part of a long term process to work with farmers globally that are in the coffee production world. As a leader in the coffee industry, Starbucks already has five different centers working with agronomists world wide with the aim to provide a top quality product, free from disease and fungus, as well as to increase yield per acre. This specific property in Costa Rica that Starbucks bought is going to focus on new coffee varieties using different processing techniques via hybridization.