Starbucks ‘Brew-niversity’ Gives Some Insights Into Coffee’s Future
Starbucks Coffee College should consider holding its classes in Indonesia, the world’s fourth-largest coffee producer and increasingly important market for the mega-retailer.
Earlier this month, Starbucks Asia Pacific invited journalists and bloggers to attend its annual two-day Coffee College in Taipei, Taiwan, to get a crash course on the origins of coffee, coffee roasting and blending. Starbucks, which employs nearly 200,000 people worldwide, also emphasized its move toward sustainability and giving back to local farmers and communities.
Participants toured Taipei’s eco-friendly outlets at Neihu Minquan and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified 101 35F store, located on the 35th floor of the Taipei 101 tower, formerly the world’s tallest building. The Coffee College ended with a nine-course coffee tasting dinner, where gastronomically perfected dishes were complemented by Starbucks’ most popular blends.
The focus, however, soon turned to Starbucks’ expansion in Indonesia, which is a major source of the chain’s coffee beans.
“On the coffee sourcing side, Starbucks has also been sourcing high-quality Arabica coffee beans from Indonesia [Sumatra and Sulawesi],” said Wendy Pang, the communications manager for Starbucks Coffee Asia Pacific. “Specifically, Sumatra is one of the first single-origin coffees offered in our core line-up, and is one of our best-selling whole-bean coffees internationally,” she added.
Patty Romaine-Moody, a Starbucks green coffee quality specialist who spoke at the Coffee College, also touted the Sumatran blend’s rich, bold body and herbal characteristics such as basil and sweet herbs. “It’s a wonderful all-day coffee,” she said.
The archipelago is becoming increasingly important to the company’s expansion and corporate social responsibility efforts. Over the last decade, Starbucks has expanded to 121 stores across the country.
“Indonesia is an important strategic market for Starbucks,” Pang said. “On the retail side, with over 240 million people and a relatively young population, Indonesia presents a huge opportunity for Starbucks to reach new and existing customers.” Pang said Starbucks is excited to have created a new coffee-drinking culture.
“We have a ton of really good programs in place right now,” said Corry Tong, the assistant manager of corporate social responsibility and communications for Starbucks Indonesia.
“We have ‘Drive Books, Not Cars,’ which has raised almost $10,000 and collected nearly 10,000 Indonesian-language children’s books for the libraries built by Taman Bacaan Pelangi [Rainbow Reading Gardens],” Tong said.
“Not to mention the year-long program we are supporting at [children’s charity] Sahabat Anak. We want people to know that they can come out and volunteer at any of the eight Sahabat Anak locations and just show up,” Tong said. “We want to start with that and see how we can grow and expand throughout 2012.”