Ethiopia And Its Coffee
Representatives of Ethiopia and Starbucks Coffee said today that they have agreed in principle to sign a licensing, distribution and marketing agreement that recognizes the importance and integrity of Ethiopia's specialty coffee names.
The agreement, the details of which won't be disclosed until it is signed later this month, is designed to help to expand their ongoing collaboration to market and sell Ethiopia's exceptionally high-quality coffees, they said.
"Ethiopia is firmly committed to work in partnership with all international specialty coffee companies and distributors of its fine coffees, including Harar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe," Getachew Mengistie, director general of the Ethiopia Intellectual Property Office, said in a joint statement with Starbucks.
"We realize our approach to trademarking and licensing these coffee brands that originate in and represent the best of Ethiopia's coffee heritage is a new approach that not only meets the needs of small Ethiopian fine coffee farmers and traders but also the coffee roasting and distributing companies and their customers," Mengistie said.
Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz said in the statement that "Ethiopia is recognized as the historic birthplace of coffee and the source of some of the finest coffee in the world. We're extremely excited to continue to deepen our relationship with the Government of Ethiopia."
Ethiopia, with the help of Oxfam, an international development organization, has been negotiating with Starbucks to sign an agreement acknowledging Ethiopia's ownership of certain coffee brands. Starbucks has proposed geographically certifying rather than trademarking Ethiopian coffee beans.
"This is an important step for Ethiopia as it engages with coffee companies on its innovative trademarking initiative designed to help alleviate poverty," Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, said in a separate statement today. "This initiative will help create real change for the 15 million Ethiopians dependent on the country's coffee sector.
"Oxfam eagerly awaits the final agreement and long overdue recognition of these coffees as unique and valued products of Ethiopia's coffee farmers," Offenheiser said.
Starbucks, based in Seattle, releases its quarterly financial results today after the stock market closes.