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Savor Shirkina Sun-Dried Sidamo Exclusively at Starbucks; Taking a Risk, Starbucks Helps Create New Coffee, Potential New Revenue Stream for Farmers

Savor Shirkina Sun-Dried Sidamo Exclusively at Starbucks; Taking a Risk, Starbucks Helps Create New Coffee, Potential New Revenue Stream for Farmers

Published 10-03-05

Submitted by Starbucks Corporation

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 3, 2005--A high quality, natural process Ethiopia Sidamo coffee is so rare it's practically extinct. Until today. Starbucks Coffee Company (Nasdaq:SBUX) introduces Shirkina Sun-Dried Sidamo coffee, the eighth coffee in its Black Apron Exclusives(TM) line-up.

"At Starbucks, we search every day to find new high quality arabica coffees," says Christopher Jordan, director of green coffee quality for Starbucks Coffee Trading Company. "The shirkinas -- the partnerships -- that we have with producers is a key to our success and a reason we spend so much time in coffee growing regions. Last year we traveled twice to Ethiopia and the development of this coffee was a focus on each trip. Producing this coffee took a lot of training, time and commitment, and we are very excited that farmers of the Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union are now being recognized for this unique and delicious coffee through our Black Apron
Exclusives(TM) Program."

"The application of the natural process on this coffee has given this coffee a distinctive black cherry flavor, with hints of chocolate and a dark rum finish," says coffee education director Scott McMartin.

"But more importantly, this has created a potential new revenue stream for farmers in this region. As early as next season, farmers may be able to use either process on their high quality coffees and have twice the opportunity to earn higher prices for their crop."

Typically, the highest quality coffees from Sidamo are processed using the wet, or washed, method. Ripe, red coffee cherries are picked and quickly taken to a washing station, where a pulping machine separates the seed -- the coffee bean -- from the fruit. This process produces a bright, crisp Sidamo with a floral aroma and lemony citrus notes, a coffee that Starbucks has offered for several years.

"With the natural process, coffee cherries are allowed to dry on raised drying beds in the sun. The coffee beans absorb flavor characteristics from the fruit as it dries around them," explains McMartin. "We asked ourselves, 'what flavors can we entice from this coffee by using the natural method?'"

In the Sidamo region, the natural process is usually reserved for inferior, unripe or low quality coffee cherries at the end of the growing season. So when McMartin pitched the idea to a group of coffee farmers, they were skeptical.

"We were nervous that the natural process would ruin our best coffees of the year," says Asnake Bekele, General Manager of Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, Ltd. "But Starbucks guaranteed purchase of the coffee, at premium prices, up front. This was a huge risk for them, but it illustrated their commitment to our partnership."

Through a non-profit associate of Starbucks -- EcoLogic Finance -- Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union will benefit from a $400,000 loan for its working capital needs. Coffee farmers often face a shortage of cash before harvest, which may force them to sell their crops early to local buyers for prices lower than what they might otherwise earn, or may cause them to forsake investments in improved farming techniques, structures, and equipment. Access to affordable financing helps ensure coffee quality and long-term economic sustainability in Ethiopia and throughout the world.

The loan to Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union is part of a $5 million coffee producer financing arrangement Starbucks has developed with EcoLogic Finance, a Cambridge, Mass.-based non-profit organization that offers affordable financial services to community-based businesses operating in environmentally sensitive areas. The loan to Sidama represents the first time a coffee cooperative in Ethiopia has been able to access affordable credit.

Starbucks awards $15,000 for each Black Apron Exclusives(TM) coffee for a project that will improve the lives of the farmers in the community. These projects have made immediate impacts in education, transportation, coffee-processing facilities and the environment. The award for the most recent Black Apron Exclusives coffee, La Candelilla Estate coffee from Costa Rica, is being used to improve farm infrastructure and education, including the establishment of a seedling program of 10,000 plants; repairs to the main road access to La Candelilla Estate; new computers for several family members; and scholarships.

The Black Apron Exclusives(TM) line of coffee is named for Starbucks most knowledgeable buyers, roasters, tasters and Coffee Masters, who wear black aprons in the tasting rooms and inStarbucks(R) coffeehouses. This is the final Black Apron Exclusives(TM) coffee for the year; the next selection will be available January 5, 2006.

Starbucks Shirkina Sun-Dried Sidamo coffee is available starting today in Company-operated stores throughout North America (1/2 lb price: US $13, CAN $16) and at It will only be available while supplies last.

Starbucks(R) whole bean coffee assortment includes more than 20 single-origin offerings and blends from around the world, including many worldwide exclusive coffees, such as Bella Vista F.W. Tres Rios(R) Costa Rica, Brazil Ipanema Bourbon(TM), Colombia Narino Supremo, and Panama la Florentina. The "Coffee of the Week" program links coffee in Starbucks stores to whole bean coffee offerings, providing customers with the opportunity to find new favorites to brew at home. Starbucks Coffee Masters are stationed in stores to answer coffee questions and help customers navigate the world of coffee.

Starbucks Corporation is the leading retailer, roaster and brand of specialty coffee in the world, with more than 9,500 retail locations in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim. The Company is committed to offering the highest quality coffee and the Starbucks Experience while conducting its business in ways that produce social, environmental and economic benefits for communities in which it does business. In addition to its retail operations, the Company produces and sells bottled Frappuccino(R) coffee drinks, Starbucks DoubleShot(R) coffee drink, and a line of superpremium ice creams through its joint venture partnerships. The Company's brand portfolio provides a wide variety of consumer products. Tazo(R) Tea's line of innovative superpremium teas and Hear Music's(TM) exceptional compact discs enhance the Starbucks Experience through best-of-class products.

Copyright Business Wire 2005

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Starbucks Corporation

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