Starbucks' own private standard, termed Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, sets basic social and environmental criteria for several thousand certified farmers and co-operatives in more than two dozen countries. Their standard includes quality parameters and has been one of the fastest growing. Starbucks is one of the leading coffee brands in the world and one of the top retail food chains operating more than 15,000 outlets worldwide in 2008.


Starbucks applied its own experience and stakeholder feedback to pioneer a coffee buying programme that strives to improve the lives of farmers and increase the amount of high-quality coffee that is grown, processed and traded in a sustainable manner. C.A.F.E. Practices are founded on socially, environmentally and economically responsible coffee buying guidelines that have evolved to reflect more than three years work and the contributions of coffee farmers, sustainability experts, and Conservation International (CI).


Each indicator is assigned a maximum number of points that can be earned, except for Starbucks' prerequisites of product quality and economic accountability. The tabulated total score determines preferred supplier status. Farmers and suppliers who demonstrate the use of best practices according to the guidelines, and obtain independent verification of their performance, may become Starbucks' preferred and strategic suppliers. To become a Starbucks C.A.F.E. Practices verified, preferred or strategic supplier, coffee farmers, processors and suppliers must meet minimum requirements and demonstrate best practices that are subject to independent verification under its guidelines. Higher scoring suppliers receive preferential buying status, higher prices and better contract terms.


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