Monday, October 17, 2011

starbucks really isn't that cool, guys


I work at a local, independent coffee shop and have been for close to two years, so I will openly admit that I do not like and never have liked Starbucks Coffee. However, this isn't for reasons of "competition" or what-have-you, but more so because of their ecologically insensitive business practices.

I get it: Starbucks is cool. They play your favorite indie songs and all the stores are furnished just right and make you feel super nice. Or whatever. I just think we should all keep in mind certain things about the company that, at the very least, cause you pause or make you more aware in one way or another.

There's this neat article on ecosalon that gives nine reasons why you should avoid Starbucks. I'll admit that some of them are a little trite, but I agree with the overall sentiment. Aside from already being wary of McDonaldized corporations and ideas that have managed to permeate throughout today's society, I just am not okay with the decisions that the company has made and the way they seem to view the world.

From the article:

"4. Then there was the Ethiopian coffee debacle. In 2006, the Ethiopian government attempted to trademark regional coffees such as Sidamo and Harar because these specialty brews sell for up to $26 a pound, with only about $1 getting back to the Ethiopian coffee farmers. Starbucks, working through the National Coffee Association, blocked Ethiopia’s trademark bid, helping ensure the continuation of poverty in an already impoverished region."

Read that, and then read it again. I can't be the only one who's completely appalled. As much as Starbucks tries to give off the vibe of being "hip" and "green, there are big decisions being made in the company that are, well, selfish and mean.

Also stolen from ecosalon:

"7. Starbucks has decided to increase their purchases of Fair Trade coffee – but that’s only after years of pressure from Fair Trade groups. Considering that the worldwide coffee trade is a huge source of oppression and poverty in third world countries, buying Fair Trade goes far to support better wages and working conditions for coffee farmers. So far, only a small percentage of Starbucks coffee will actually be Fair Trade Certified, but they’ve still created a marketing campaign around it. I’d expect better from a large corporation; since Starbucks is large enough for the world to pay attention to its products, they could push some powerful change by using their influence for the greater good.

8. No matter what they do to be a little more green, if Starbucks won’t pour coffee into a reusable mug, they’ll never win my heart. My husband informed me of his own infuriating Starbucks experience where they refused to fill his travel mug, instead handing him his latte in a disposable paper cup and telling him he could fill his travel mug himself. He’s not the only one who’s had eco efforts thwarted like this at Starbucks."

If you keep up on issues of food and the environment in America (and other places, of course), you're aware that we're told it's best to buy organic, sustainable, and local. There are benefits in terms of the economy when you choose to support your local shops rather than a chain, but there are direct environmental ones as well. A San Diego run coffee roastery that a lot of shops stock is called Cafe Moto, who make it a point to use Fair Trade and organic beans. A favorite of mine is Cafe Virtuoso, which is all organic, mostly Fair Trade, and donates a portion of its proceeds to places like the Rainforest Alliance.

That second reason (#8) is there just as a kind of "really??".

Finally, places like Moto and Virtuoso just straight up make delicious coffee. And isn't that what we're all after anyway? Starbucks is overly acidic, sugared up, and just kind of icky. It just seems like considering switching where you go for your caffeine fix is a "win" in a bunch of different ways.

Anyway, I'm sorry that both of my posts have been heated and essentially claiming "THIS STUFF IS EVIL", but I really do think it's important to consider everything you purchase to be a decision on what you think is good and should be supported. "Every dollar is a vote" kind of thing.

1 comment:

  1. Another thing to consider is that a lot of Starbucks are placed suspiciously close to independent coffee shops. Those coffee shops are probably worth checking out!

    I know not everyone lives super close to school or hangs out in neighborhoods surrounding school, but a couple of places that I like near school are Caffe Fika, Claire de Lune's and Rebecca's (it's in South Park, and I am not in anyway affiliated with it).


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