In the late 1970s, the Democratic Republic of Congo was one of Africa’s leading exporters of coffee. Subsequent decades of violence, poverty and disease claimed the lives of millions in the region and destroyed much of the country’s coffee market. In recent years, despite the odds, Congolese farmers have quietly produced some of the world’s greatest Arabica coffee beans.
Starbucks partnered with the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) to develop sustainable agricultural production and help restore Congo as a key source of high quality coffee. Founded by actor and director Ben Affleck, the ECI is a US-based advocacy and grant-making initiative focused on working with and for the people of Eastern Congo to help rejuvenate their coffee industry.
Toward the end of 2014, Starbucks made its first purchase of coffee from farmers in Eastern Congo. After months of fine-tuning and experimentation, Starbucks is now offering an exclusive blend crafted only for the Starbucks Reserve® Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle using this coffee from the Congo.
Every Coffee Tells a Story
Starbucks Reserve® coffees are curated to tell the story of its origin. Serving only Starbucks Reserve® coffees, Starbucks uses its Roastery as a platform to showcase some of the world’s rarest coffees, expanding the company’s small-lot sourcing program to pay homage to the rich, important history surrounding the specialty coffee industry.
Gravitas Blend No.1 is an alchemy of small-lot beans from Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia and East Congo. With deep and layered flavors of roasted plum, tamarind and milk chocolate, Gravitas weaves together three different origins, yet allows the flavors of each origin to shine on its own.
“Not only is Gravitas a testament to the skill of our master blenders,” said Craig Russell, executive vice president global coffee at Starbucks. “Gravitas speaks to the remarkable progress made through the Eastern Congo Initiative to put the coffee of East Congo back on the map, giving the region the recognition it deserves as a key source of high quality coffee.”
Starbucks Roastery blends build on the heritage and artistry of blending. Roasted fresh, served and scooped daily, Gravitas Blend No.1 will replace Pantheon – the Roastery’s first blend – and is available for a limited time.
“We are excited to bring Gravitas to our customers,” said Russell. “Gravitas speaks to our past, present and future as roasters in one extraordinary cup.”