Costa Coffee Origin
The Starbucks Origin Experience takes partners (employees) from behind the counters of stores, corporate offices and roasting plants and brings them to work alongside farmers in coffee growing regions. The program offers a valuable perspective for people who have a passion for coffee, but may not have a connection to the distant places where coffee is grown. Starbucks store manager Natalie Williams traveled with a group of Starbucks partners to Costa Rica in January and this is her Origin Experience.
The 2016 Origin Experience trip to Costa Rica has transformed me. I will never see coffee or Starbucks the same again. Our Starbucks values came to life through the wonderful coffee and the amazing people I had the privilege of getting to know there.
My heart and mind experienced a whole new side of those roasty little beans we grind, brew, and serve every day. At Hacienda Alsacia, I experienced coffee trees and their fruit for the first time. Standing in front of the shiny, deep green leaves rustling in the wind, with thousands of bright red coffee cherries clustered along the branches, it took my breath away. I picked a beautiful red, cranberry-like coffee cherry off the tree and held it in my hand for a moment.
It smelled fresh and green, but slightly fruity, and I was so excited to finally taste this mysterious fruit that is removed from the beans during processing. This was a moment I had been looking forward to since I discovered coffee actually grew on trees. I popped it into my mouth and tried to memorize everything that was happening - the skin was a bit thicker and tougher than a cherry or cranberry, and the fruit wasn't very flavorful...but then suddenly, the two coffee beans inside the fruit, which are like the pit of the fruit, split apart in my mouth and I was stunned.
I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I'd never thought about that simple aspect of eating a coffee cherry before - that there are two beans inside each one and they aren't really connected to each other. I learned a simple but very personal lesson about coffee in that moment. There was so much I didn't know about the intricacies of coffee. This is now a part of my coffee journey and one of the stories I have to share with others.