How about a little blockchain with your coffee?
Starbucks is the latest company to consider the use of blockchain technology. The Seattle-based giant announced today that it will start a pilot program with farmers in Costa Rica, Colombia, and Rwanda to develop a new way to track the “bean to cup” journey.
The idea is to ultimately connect coffee drinkers with coffee farmers, who can potentially then take advantage of new financial opportunities.
“We’re taking traceability and trust to the next level,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said today at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Seattle.
A Starbucks spokesperson said that the company is looking at a “variety of technologies, including blockchain.”
Blockchain is one of the hottest technologies and something the tech world is eyeing closely. Blockchains are distributed ledgers secured by powerful cryptography algorithms — it is the underpinning for Bitcoin — and could create new types of tech products and services.
“Many years ago, our controls and transactions were all done by paper, and today we are even talking about blockchain technology,” Ronald Peters, executive director of the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE), said in a statement. “This shows us that, more than being at the front of every technological advancement, having the information and being flexible and adaptable are important.”
Starbucks, which worked with more than 380,000 coffee bean farms last year, said it will open source the pilot program and share what it learns.
“The promise of connecting coffee farmers to coffee drinkers is an extraordinary leap in transparency and accountability, and it speaks volumes about Starbucks commitment to creating a product that is good for people and for the planet,” Dr. M. Sanjayan, chief executive officer of Conservation International, said in a statement.