Tag Archives: coffee shops

Things I did not know…Coca Cola has opened a coffeeshop

Clearly they’ve learned how profitable three dollar lattes are, and are now trying to slice into the Starbucks pie. Their business’s shtick? That they are more ‘green’ than the Mermaid.

As expected, the anti-Coke crowd has chimed in, stating that Coke is intentionally meeting only the barest of standards in order to take credit for being green.

Jennifer Wright, founder of Green Shift, which pioneered the biodegradable coffee cup now found in over 150 Toronto businesses, isn’t impressed. “They don’t have enough to brag about. They are basically appeasing people with the bare minimum,” she says.

Which surprises her how?

To be honest, if the anti-Coke crowd wishes to stain the reputation of Far Coast’s new venture, simply keep reminding people that it’s owned by Coca-Cola. Telling consumers that Far Coast is only slightly more ethical than Starbucks isn’t going to do anything. Coca-Cola, as a brand name, is far more shadier and disreputable.

Thanks Jack!

tags technorati : Food Politics Coca Cola


The Pros and Cons of the ‘Ghetto Latte’

A Ghetto (or Poor Man’s) Latte is an iced Americano, with no water and half ice which is then takens to the condiments bar where the milk or half and half is then added.

The question put forth to Starbuck’s Gossip was “Is it fair/right for a customer to order what we, at my store, call a “ghetto-latte”?

My own take? It doesn’t matter as the milk at the condiment bar is not free (it’s already figured into the cost of the menued products). Corporate business being what it is, the …ahem… bean counters here in Seattle have already figured that there’s a few folks who will game the system.

As a side question – has anyone actually ever used the vanilla powder found at the condiments bar?

Technorati Tags: Coffee, Starbucks


Starbucks Hegemony

A true story:

A woman named Sam Buck opens a coffee shop. Calls it SamBucks Coffee. Opens it in a city where there were no Starbucks (such places existed back in the year 2000)

In 2002, Starbucks gets whiff of this and sues woman, citing the need to protect their brand.

In Court, Judge rules on the side of Starbucks.

Dear Starbucks,

This is the primary reason why people don’t like you.

More from the sambuck’s coffee house here.

(Thanks to BoingBoing)


Starbucks Challenge: A Report

Both Tara and I took the Starbucks challenge (which we talked about last week) and report no problems in getting Fair Trade Coffee.

From Tara:

One Union Square Starbucks, reportedly one of the busiest in Seattle

Me: I’ll have a cup of fair trade coffee please.

Cashier:  *doesn’t bat an eyelash*  What size?

Me: Tall, please (fully expecting the cashier to tell me they only sell fair trade in Venti size)

Cashier: Would you like room for cream?

Me: Yes, please.

Cashier:  *grabs a tall cup (again without batting an eyelash), marks it, sets it aside*

Barista:  *grabs the cup, takes it to a large, drip coffee dispenser* 

Me: What is fair trade coffee, anyway?

Barista:  *filling the cup*  It’s coffee that’s sold at a set price to benefit the growers.

Me: Dig that. Do you keep some brewed all the time here?

Barista:  *handing me the cup*  Most of the time, yeah.

Me: Kew. Thank you.

With a little cream the coffee was fairly tasty, too.

Tara purchased hers while Estema (Starbucks Fairtrade grind) was the coffee of the week. I, on the other hand, was not so lucky.

Kate: Hi! I’d like some of your Fair-Trade coffee.

Barista: Pardon?

Kate: Your Fair-Trade. Can I have a cup?

Barista: I’m sorry, it was last week.

Kate: So you can’t brew any today.

Barista: Well, I can. It’ll take four minutes to do so.

Kate: That’s fine.

Barista: It’ll be French Press.

Kate: Okay.

Barista: All right. That’s $1.59.

The rest of the transaction went off with no problems. The brew itself is pretty good. A little bitter, and a tad chocolately. Color me very pleased.

But it’s still a shame that Starbucks doesn’t go out of their way to integrate any Fair Trade grinds into their daily lattes. Considering that there’s a fairly successful coffee shop here in Seattle that does do this (that’d be Caffe Ladro, to those of you not in the Puget Sound area), they can’t say that it’s an unproven business practice.


Starbucks and Fair Trade Coffee

Did you know that you can order Fair Trade Coffee at Starbucks? I sure didn’t.

What is Fair Trade Coffee? It’s essentially coffee (the actual commodity that’s imported and exported en masse from country to country) priced at a “Fair Trade” market price. Fair Trade is — and I’m generalizing here — the belief that the producers of a product deserve an equitable price for their product, hopefully ensuring that they don’t go bankrupt while others profit from their initial work.

One of the biggest criticisms of Starbucks over the years — aside from their rampant expansion — is their lack of cooperation in bringing their buying power of coffee beans to ensure that their growers are being paid a fair wage. Typically most would just chalk this up to corporate greed and the like, but Starbucks actually espouses their “green philosophy” to investors and consumers, which makes their business practices seem not only greedy, but hypocritical. The hypocrisy is seen in the fact that they:

  1. Don’t advertise the fact that one can get Fair Trade coffee at their locations.
  2. Haven’t effectively communicated their ideas well enough to the franchise level, ensuring that one can order a cup o’ Fair Trade without a Barrista giving you a confused, “what-the-hell-are-you-talking-about” look.
  3. Fair Trade coffee is prepared only in French pressed style
  4. It’s offered only in Venti size…
  5. …which means Venti Prices only.
  6. On average, it takes ten minutes to make French pressed coffee at their locations.

As you can see, Starbucks doesn’t really go out of their way to provide the Fair Trade coffee they make available.

City Hippy, noticing said hypocrisy, has decided to do something about it. They’ve issued the Starbucks Challenge, with the simple premise of “If a company makes a promise, it should stick to it”. The Challenge? Ask for a cup of Fair Trade coffee at your local Starbucks and post the results online. Bloggers write about it in your blog and tag the link “starbuckschallenge” at del.icio.us, non-bloggers can email either cityhippy@gmail.com or greenlagirl@gmail.com.Green LA Girl is the US representative of this project, and one should contact her if you have any further questions.

So, if your consumer decisions are based off the philosophy of ethical purchasing, then you may want to ask the barrista at your local caffeine shack for that specific blend. Nothing drives the market demand for a product better than when the market actually demands the product.

via Seattlest

UPDATE: Bruce e-mails to let me know that my facts are a bit off. Here is his response:

Sorry Kate but I feel compelled to clear up some of this misinformation.

  1. Starbucks doesnt do alot of advertising but they did send out press releases advertising the fact that October is Fair Trade month and they’ll be brewing fair trade cafe estima ( i put the link to this in my site URL box) And starbucks will periodically brew this during certain weeks.
  2. Starbucks doesnt do Franchises. The ones in Target, Barnes & Noble, Grocery Stores and Airports are licensed to those particular companies those. As far as the communication goes I think that varies store to store depending on the manager and how well they communicate operations to the team. And there is always going to be a few partners who only work 4 hours a week and are out of the loop, or are lazy, new, or are just plain oblivious, but that’s not the norm.
  3. As shown above Fair Trade is not only brewed in French Press. It will usually be brewed as coffee of the day at least one week a month.
  4. If it’s not during the morning rush it only takes 5 minutes to brew a french press.
  5. I agree we should have more organic and fair trade options that are avilable and brewed every day and I don’t think it will be too long before that comes to pass as the shareholders voted last year to work on increasing the purchase of Organic/Fair trade to like 50% of beans purchased by 2010, i think? memory fails me. As far as ethical purchasing goes, I am very proud to work for a company that is so socially responsible. On average they pay 60% more than the market price for the going rate on Arabica beans. Starbucks has a purchasing system that rewards and gives incentive for farmers that score high on the criteria which include among other things environmental and socially responsible guidelines. You can find out more here

Mea culpa Bruce. Some of the information I read from the links above were incorrect. I’m planning a trip to the local Starbucks this weekend when I am more mobile.


Delocator – Search tool for non-corporate coffee shops

Ha! Do you like coffee but are hesitant to step into a Starbucks? Then Delocator is for you (pop-up should be enabled).

Type in your zip code, and it will give you a list of non-corporate coffee shops that are near by, and some written reviews of these sites. Their raison d’etre?

Cafés are vital social outposts that have historically provided subjective, social, local, and at times, irrational interaction, inspiration, and nourishment to artists, hipsters, musicians, activists, intellectuals, radicals, and others alike. Currently, independently owned cafés around the world are under aggressive attack; and their numbers have been sharply decreasing for many years. delocator.net is a means to preserve these local businesses.

It also lists local Starbucks, just in case there are no other independant cafe alternatives.