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There is a word that comes to my mind when I think about our company and our people. That word is "love." I love Starbucks because everything we've tried to do is steeped in humanity.

Respect and dignity.

Passion and laughter.

Compassion, community, and responsibility.

Authenticity.

These are Starbucks' touchstones, the source of our pride.

Valuing personal connections at a time when so many people sit alone in front of screens; aspiring to build human relationships in an age when so many issues polarize so many; and acting ethically, even if it costs more, when corners are routinely cut—these are honorable pursuits, at the core of what we set out to be.

For more than three decades, coffee has captured my imagination because it is a beverage about individuals as well as community. A Rwandan farmer. Eighty roast masters at six Starbucks plants on two continents. Thousands of baristas in 54 countries. Like a symphony, coffee's power rests in the hands of a few individuals who orchestrate its appeal. So much can go wrong during the journey from soil to cup that when everything goes right, it is nothing short of brilliant! After all, coffee doesn't lie. It can't. Every sip is proof of the artistry—technical as well as human—that went into its creation.

In the beginning of 2008 I deeply wanted people to fall back in love with Starbucks, which is why, even when bombarded by warnings against it, I decided to close all of our stores across America. I did not feel fear as much as a sense of the unknown, like I was flipping over a playing card. All I had was my belief that, even more than perfecting our coffee, we had to restore the passion and the commitment that everyone at Starbucks needed to have for our customers. Doing so meant taking a step back before we could take many steps forward.

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