One Tree for Every Bag Commitment in Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala

Starbucks and Conservation International lead a grant-based renovation project with a strong environmental component and innovative consumer connection

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  • R&R type Grant-based renovation
  • Countries Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala
  • Costs Total cost: $19.5 million – USD 0.7 0.5/coffee b
  • Dates 2015-2017

Project Context

  • In 2011/12, La Roya affected almost 50% of the total coffee growing area in Mexico and Central America, significantly reducing the SHF production.
  • Starbucks launched the “One Tree for Every Bag Commitment” initiative to help ensure the long term supply of coffee and the economic future of farmers. Farmers supported are C.A.F.E. Practice verified.

Objectives, Activities, and Results

  • Starbucks raised funds through consumers to finance the distribution of nearly 30 million rust-resistant trees in 2017 and extended commitment to 100 million trees by 2025 (with a focus on Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala and as part of Starbucks’ green buying program)
  • Starbucks aims to ensure that 10 million trees are available per year to farmers in need (in the same three countries)
  • It is still too early to evaluate yield uplifts, but preliminary socioeconomic and environmental results look promising....
  • Expected value created: yield improvements and greater livelihood security, forest and shading trees preserved, job creation
  • Value captured: Farmers are not required to sell their production to ECOM or to local suppliers. Starbucks may recoup part of its investment through increased production volumes, but the program mostly finances a public good.

Project Context

Management of the three R&R Components



Challenges faced

  • Production of rust-resistant seedlings.
  • Physical distribution of seedlings and tracking of plants once distributed in remote areas may be difficult.


  • ECOM germinates seedlings in 12 local nurseries. The seeds produced are rust-resistant (variety Marsellesa)and the quality is monitored.
  • Starbucks is planning to support decentralized nurseries to ease distribution, but control of decentralized nurseries is more difficult.


Starbucks is financing the seedlings and currently exploring otherloan and financial assistance mechanisms.


Conservation International (CI)

Challenges faced
Farmers may use environmentally damaging agricultural practices.

CI establishes “safeguards” concerning forest conservation and shade management. Local suppliers teach farmers to respect these safeguards that are in accordance with C.A.F.E. Practices. Local suppliers also provide technical assistance and education on GAP for the planted variety to SHFs. CI visits a sample of farms annually to ensure. safeguards were respected. CI also works closely with Starbucks agronomists to produce detailed planting instructions for farmers to nurture plants in years 1-3.

Lessons Learned

  • M&E is critical to ensure renovation implementation success
    A well rounded monitoring system helps ensure that quality trees are being provided, beneficiaries respect environmental safeguards and that the program management, distribution and reach improves year over year.

  • Collaboration and communication between stakeholders enables the successful delivery of diverse project components
    Given the scale of the 1T1B program, in order to ensure timely germination of seedlings and to coordinate mass deliveries, Starbucks, CI and all suppliers needed to maintain close coordination, which included the use of standardized data tracking templates and farmer and agronomist outreach materials. Additionally, ensuring the seeds are distributed and planted at the right times is essential and an ongoing consideration that is managed and improved year on year.

  • Environmental safeguards in renovation projects should not be overlooked
    Renovation projects can have unanticipated impacts on forest conservation if not properly managed. For example, if farmers cut down old growth or shade trees in addition to replacing non-productive coffee trees, the consequence of deforestation and loss of forest connectivity can lead to deterioration of water resources and biodiversity. Program implementers should include safeguards in the design of their projects and ensure their implementation at farm level

Learn more and get involved

There is a lot of work to be done to ensure the long-term supply of coffee from countries where the crop has long shaped the social and economic fabric. Learning to extend the life of their trees and improve yields helps farmers stabilize annual production and in turn, income, while the rest of the world benefits from a steady supply of quality coffee. Continue on to learn more about the immediate attention and action that is required to make this a reality.