Starbucks Pays Tribute to “The First 10 Feet” with Unprecedented Coffee Tasting for 4,000 Yunnan Coffee Farmers


4 November 2017 - To celebrate, and pay tribute to five years of close collaboration between the Starbucks China Farmer Support Centre and the local coffee farmers in Pu’er, Yunnan Province, Starbucks gathered more than 4000 coffee farmers are at the city’s Sports Stadium for a very special coffee tasting event. With thousands of cups of the Starbucks® South of the Clouds Blend® dedicatedly handcrafted by more than 20 Starbucks baristas, the local coffee farming community participated in the largest coffee tasting event ever conducted by Starbucks in China. This coffee tasting event of unprecedented scale was designed to honor the pride and passion of the local coffee farming community while bridging what Starbucks calls “the first 10 feet” – the coffee farms themselves – and the “last 10 feet,” where a customer orders and consumes a cup. Located at the same latitude as other renowned coffee producing regions, such as Columbia and Jamaica, Pu’er is the coffee capital of China.

Coffee Tasting for 4,000 Yunnan Coffee Farmers

Many like Chenzhubao, who has been a coffee farmer for more than 30 years, is presented with the coffee they have harvested for the first time. “This is the first time I have the opportunity to taste the fruits of my labor. The coffee’s strong herbal notes, balanced acidity and strong aroma remind me of my coffee terrace back home,” said Chenzhubao. In early 2009, as part of the Starbucks 10th Anniversary celebrations in China, the company launched the Starbucks® South of the Clouds Blend®, featuring high-quality Yunnan arabica coffee beans. With firm support from the local and provincial governments, the Starbucks® South of the Clouds Blend® is available seasonally in 3000 Starbucks stores across China, and in numerous locations across Asia and the United States.

The event is also a first-time experience for Wang Liwen, a Barista from Starbucks Taikoo Li flagship store in Chengdu. “We served every cup of coffee with both hands and we hope the coffee farmers will be touched by the deep respect we have for them,” Wang said. ” It is amazing to think about all the work that has gone into that one bean — and how many people have had a hand in producing it. It’s changed how I think about coffee and I cannot wait to share this experience with my store partners and customers.”

Yunnan plays an important strategic role in Starbucks growth in China. Since the establishment of the first Asia-based Starbucks Farmer Support Center in Pu’er in 2012, Starbucks has been committed to its aspiration to help improve the quality of Yunnan coffee and to share it with the world. Over the past five years, the Starbucks Farmer Support Center has provided free training on sustainable farming practices and certified over 1,200 farms, covering nearly 11,000 hectres of land, through the company’s Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, which ensures high quality coffee that is grown in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

For Mr. Zhu Yuankun, a grey-haired 60-year old coffee farmer, he never thought he would have the opportunity to stand on stage to receive the applause from thousands of his peers. He burst into tears when he was presented with the double honors of “The Best Acceptance Rate by Lots Award” and “The Most Sales Volume Award”. Zhu expressed his deepest gratitude to the Starbucks China Farmer Support Center, “your relentless guidance and knowledge sharing has helped me win the honors today while allowing my family to lead even better and prosperous lives.” Speaking of the future, Zhu expressed his commitment to continue working with Starbucks and believes more coffee growers will jump on the bandwagon to develop even more localized, high-quality Yunnan coffee.

“This special coffee tasting session today pays tribute and celebrates the hard work of the local coffee farmers by sharing the coffee craftsmanship of our Starbucks baristas. We hope our partners will continue to be inspired by the spirit of the first ten feet as it will be critical to our sustainable long-term success,” said Alan Tong, director of Starbucks Farmer Support Center,” Over the past 5 years, Starbucks Farmer Support Center served as a platform to share our knowledge and expertise with the local communities we serve. We have achieved positive early successes and we are thrilled to welcome more coffee farmers to join us in our collective efforts to bring the best of Yunnan coffee to the world.”

Starbucks will continue to build on the strong foundations established by the Starbucks China Farmer Support Center to bring to life its vision to create positive impact on the local coffee farming communities and deepen its partnership with local farmers to bring the distinctive Yunnan coffee to China and the world.