When Emmanuel “Noey” Tantoco Lopez went into the requisite five-month training as a  new partner of the global franchise Starbucks Coffee Company in 1997,  he didn’t realize he was going to fall in love with a culture.  Now as the  Chief Operating Officer of Rustan Coffee, which manages Starbucks Philippines, he enthuses, “It’s not just about the traditional way of doing business to just make a profit.  The founding fathers had a vision.  The more I learned what Starbucks stood for, the more I loved it.”

Lopez, whose company oversees 225 stores in the Philippines, is referring to the connection that Starbucks is creating among its huge fan base of coffee drinkers.  It is a bond that encourages social awareness and doing one’s share in preserving the environment.  

“We get so much produce from the Earth – why should we damage it?” says Lopez.  “We use so much electricity,” he gives an example, “it becomes  incumbent on us to take care of our environment.”

Starbucks Philippines employees do volunteer work on company time, helping in the creation of sustainable livelihood programs that provide work for the community while nurturing Mother Earth. Starbucks Philippines partners contribute between 4,000 to 6,000 hours of community service annually to local NGOs and social enterprises. It implements ethical sourcing to support local  coffee growers who grow their products responsibly and trade them according to high ethical standards.
Small but significant practices also reinforce ecological awareness in the coffee shops all over the country.  Customers who bring their own mug/tumbler – and thus lessen the use of paper cups – get a discount.  The Starbucks drive-through outlet in Mindanao Avenue, Quezon City uses solar panels to help conserve energy.

Starbucks also introduced the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified retail establishment in the Philippines.  This branch in the Fort, Bonifacio Global City, uses local wood materials, thus contributing to the reduction of CO2 emission from transportation.  Its permeable and open grid pavers help promote natural filtration limiting the pollution of underground water resources.

To help save energy, the branch’s roof uses high reflection material that increases heat insulation and reduces building cooling. The deep roof overhangs help block sun to reduce electrical cooling needed inside the building.

Perhaps, the initial step in community involvement started with a question that Starbucks founder Howard Schultz asked when he first visited the Philippines,  “What can we do for the coffee growers in Bukidnon?”  Not long after, Starbucks Philippines built a school in that area.

“We walk the talk,” Lopez says simply.  And Starbucks Philippines is encouraging hundreds of volunteers to follow in their steps.