Made In The U.S.A.

Starbucks and Fair Trade

In Edibles on January 25, 2009 at 1:53 pm

1.10.09: Stopped at Starbucks today, not only for my favorite drink (a venti iced coffee with three Splendas and half and half) but for a pound of coffee and advice. I asked about fair trade, and they pointed me to the Café Estima blend. They even ground it for me. I decided that in the world of coffee, Fair Trade certification is more valuable to the conscientious consumer than locally grown. You can buy it here.

I looked online to learn more about Fair Trade and Starbucks roasts. I can’t for the life of me figure out where the heck they roast their coffee. Based on what I’ve learned this week (if it doesn’t say MITUSA, it wasn’t) I’m wondering if they have bulk roasters in foreign lands. I’ll have to continue this investigation.

Though I didn’t learn what I wanted, I did learn this: Coffee is the second-most traded commodity (after oil) on earth.

You can’t really get either one of them efficiently MITUSA.

I also found an interesting discussion about asking for Fair Trade coffees in Starbucks. It turns out that there’s a whole movement of people who’d really like you to ask for a cup of Fair Trade the next time you’re in Starbucks, because they’ll brew one up special for you. One commenter made a great point about how and why this shift in demand would create a shift in the corporate behavior, making it easier to get Fair Trade coffees in Starbucks. It seemed to apply to buying American as well.

Why do you have to ask? Because we live in a market-driven system (for better or worse) and by demanding you affect supply. (I’ll give a nod to the fact that most of our so-called “democratic economy” is actually a command economy, but that’s for another day.) In the end, an educated consumer and demand-driven economics is the “best” solution.

I then learned that a command economy would have supplies and prices set and controlled by the government. Presumably that poster would argue that our economy is such because of government subsidies and stuff.

I guess I’m back to thinking that my coffee is made at the local Starbucks, and the ingredients are imported. I can’t help but think I’d be better served by a truly locally roasted bean. I’m definitely investigating that—as soon as I’ve spent my Starbucks bucks.

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  1. I don’t know where Starbucks gets their coffee roasted, but I assumed it was in the USA.
    I do know though that most of the Fair Trade coffee available in the USA is roasted here. We get ours from Equal Exchange and Thanksgiving Coffee – and they are GREAT coffees. Try them!

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