The brand’s 99% ethically-sourced coffee is celebrated every September 9th of the year.
Japan first celebrated 9/9 in 2015, after brainstorming for creative ways to share Starbucks’ ethical sourcing story to customers. “We were wondering how to communicate to the Japanese customer what we have accomplished,” said Norio Adachi, social impact director for Japan. “The origin story is very far away from Japan. So we tried to convey this information in a unique way.”
Those customers that show a special interest in learning more about sustainability can take an “ethical coffee sourcing quiz” that tests them on their knowledge of coffee and how it’s produced. Japanese stores also host small seminars for inquisitive coffee-drinkers who want to find out more in which they learn about Starbucks commitment to strive for 100 percent ethically sourced coffee.
The company’s ethical sourcing guidelines, called C.A.F.E. Practices, short for Coffee and Farmer Equity, were developed in 2004 in conjunction with Conservation International, a nonprofit committed to environmental protection. C.A.F.E. Practices lay out economic, social, quality and environmental standards that all Starbucks coffee farmers and suppliers must meet via a third-party verification system.
“We’re not only celebrating what we’ve been working so long to achieve, but we’re also celebrating that interaction between a customer and a barista,” said Kelly Goodejohn, director for Starbucks ethical sourcing programs. “We’re sharing this aspect of our coffee heritage with our customers, which is something we don’t do that often. Fun events like this allow us to have great conversations with our customers, including about our efforts to reach the last 1 percent.”
This year, stores in Britain, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal and South Africa are joining by writing “99” on customers’ cups.
In London, on the outside of a centrally located Soho store, store manager Becca Turner is creating a chalk art mural, a drawing that depicts farmers and C.A.F.E. Practices guidelines. Turner has also designed an image of the number “99” superimposed on a coffee tree. “I’m hoping it will inspire some discussion,” said Turner. “I want it to be a prompt for conversations happening around the coffee.”
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