For keeping Starbucks--and farmers everywhere--full of beans
Carlos Mario Rodriguez is the director of global agronomy at Starbucks, a position he's held since 2004. In 2015, on the Starbucks R&D coffee farm in Costa Rica, Rodriguez completed crossbreeding the brand's first-ever hybrid of a high-producing coffee plant that’s rust resistant. Unbeknownst to most dedicated coffee drinkers, the coffee industry lay under a dark cloud in 2014, with crops throughout South America succumbing to coffee leaf rust, a fungus that renders the plant unable to grow mature beans. But Rodriguez didn’t only save the plants, he capitalized on the opportunity to improve the lives of coffee growers everywhere; Starbucks is giving away the superior seedlings to both local biodiversity organizations, including the Coffee Institute of Costa Rica. Prior to joining Starbucks, Rodriguez studied agronomy at the University of Costa Rica, where he worked in the university's molecular biology lab. Soon after, Rodriguez worked at the National Biodiversity Institute before leading the countrywide coffee program at Instituto del Café de Costa Rica, or iCafe. He lives in Costa Rica.