Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Starbucks and Fair Trade

I just came upon Starbucks' Fair Trade Certified coffee alternative via the Dirty Greek. Since I don't patronize the place, I didn't know.

It looks like Starbucks, under pressure from The Responsible Consumer 1, mounted an offensive by offering a fair trade bean. From Starbucks' press release (pdf):
Whole-bean Fair Trade Certified coffee is available for purchase in our North American company operated stores. In addition, Fair Trade Certified coffee has been promoted by Starbucks as a brewed "Coffee of the Week" and can be brewed by coffee press during store hours upon customer request.
My first response was, "If they offer a Fair Trade Certified coffee, does that imply that all their other coffee was procured under Unfair Trade practices?" What logical thinker wouldn't conclude this?

They cut this thinking off at the pass by claiming they now pay "fair prices for all of our coffee." I see. So there is Fair Trade Certified Coffee, Unfair Trade Procured Coffee, and Starbucks' version: Fair Trade-like Coffee.

It would seem to me that if there is a certification available for Fair Trade, Starbucks, having already paid their Fair Trade dues, would clamor for it. Odd.

Anyway, the Dirty Greek makes reference to a Starbucks Challenge being waged by City Hippy: Visit your local Starbucks, ask for a cup of Fair Trade coffee, and report your results to City Hippy, or blog it.

1 In March 2003, Starbucks was accused of buying coffee and chocolate produced under exploitative labor conditions. Ronnie Cummins, national director of the OCA: "and in the case of cocoa plantations in Africa, workers [were] actually slaves."

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