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Originally published March 18, 2013 at 9:00 PM | Page modified March 19, 2013 at 9:57 AM

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Starbucks to buy Costa Rican coffee farm

It would be the first farm the Seattle chain purchases. Plans are to convert it into a research and development center.

Seattle Times business reporter

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Starbucks plans to buy its first coffee farm, a nearly 600-acre estate on the slopes of the Poas Volcano in Costa Rica, the chain said Monday evening.

It plans to convert the farm to an agronomy research and development center working on climate change mitigation, long-term crop stability and other programs. It did not disclose terms of the deal, which is expected to close in May.

The center “will support the resiliency of coffee farmers and their families as well as the one million people that represent our collective coffee supply chain,” CEO Howard Schultz said in a news release.

Starbucks’ farm also could be used to experiment with new types of coffee, he said.

Over the past 40 years, Starbucks has invested more than $70 million on programs that support farmers’ livelihoods and help ensure the long-term availability of high-quality coffee.

The chain has farmer support centers in China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Rwanda and Tanzania. Their agronomists and other experts provide farmers with expertise and training in soil management, field-crop production and milling processes to improve the quality and size of their harvests.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com. Twitter @AllisonSeattle.

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