Starbucks to Track Coffee Using Microsoft’s Blockchain Service

7 May 2019

Starbucks is moving to give consumers more information on its coffee products using a blockchain system that will track beans from “farm to cup.”

For the effort, the coffee chain is working with Microsoft to harness its Azure Blockchain Service in tracking coffee shipments from across the world, bringing “digital, real-time traceability” to its supply chains, according to an announcement from Microsoft.

With the partnership, Microsoft’s blockchain service will record all changes along the journey of the coffee on a shared ledger, providing participants with a “more complete view” of the supply chain.

Starbucks will use all that information to bring a new feature to its mobile app, giving consumers details on where the coffee was sourced and roasted, as well as on tasting notes.

As part of its commitment to ethical sourcing, it’s also hoping that the blockchain system can help benefit growers too, by providing them with data such as where their beans end up in consumers’ cups. According to the release, Starbucks sourced beans from over 380,000 coffee farms in 2018.

“I firmly believe that by empowering farmers with knowledge and data through technology, we can support them in ultimately improving their livelihoods,” said Michelle Burns, SVP of Global Coffee & Tea at Starbucks.

The app will also inform consumers of how Starbucks is supporting these growers, Microsoft indicated.

“This kind of transparency offers customers the chance to see that the coffee they enjoy from us is the result of many people caring deeply,” said Burns.

While a date for the launch of the new service has not been revealed, the digital traceability concept was demoed to shareholders at Starbuck’s annual meeting in March.

The firm is currently talking to coffee farmers in Costa Rica, Colombia and Rwanda to find out more about how the project can best benefit them, Burns added.

Starbucks is notably working with the Bakkt digital assets and bitcoin futures platform being developed by Intercontinental Exchange, the parent firm of the New York Stock Exchange. The coffee company was said last August to be working to develop “practical, trusted and regulated” applications for consumers to convert digital assets into U.S. dollars.

Starbucks image via Shutterstock