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Monday, November 28, 2005

NEWS: FairTrade in Islington

This one was a close call though. Was in Islington (Store 14670, 71 Upper Street, N1 0NY to be precise) and saw a headed on in.

Barista1: Hi
CH: Hi, I would like a Fair-Trade Venti please.
Barista1: Sorry we do not have Fair Trade brewing.
CH: Ok...could you press a cup for me please?
Barista1: [irritated look and shrug] Yeah sure.
Barista1 then spent about 2 minutes looking for FT coffee.
Eventually Barista2 got involved and took over.
My coffee was now being pressed by Barista2 right in front of me.
Barista2: Do you mind if I ask you Sir why you insisted on a Fair Trade coffee?
CH: Sure, no problem, I insisted on Fair Trade as I believe in Fair Trade and also because of something happening on the web.
I figured I had a good chance to spread the gospel.
Barista2: Oh cool...
CH: Yeah it is something called the Starbucks Challenge where people are testing the Starbucks promise to provide a Fair Trade coffee upon request.
Barista2: Awesome! Well you do realise that our FT Coffee is a blend.
CH: Yep...sure do.
Barista2: We are obliged to tell all customers who ask for Fair Trade that plus the fact that all Starbucks coffee is bought at a higher price than normal and is Fair Trade but without the certificate.
CH: Yeah Fairly traded right.
Barista2: Exactly. Do you know why it is Fairly Traded and not Fair Trade?
CH: Sure do...[thanks to Green LA Girl] is apparently to do because of the various reasons to do with cost of certification and the amount of FT coffee available. [Sadly did not think to counter that Nestle seem to find lots of FT coffee]
Barista2: [smiling] Exactly.

I had a great chat with this guy and told him I really appreciate that Baristas do a tough job very well. Superb customer-staff interaction to be honest. Starbucks should be proud of that and also of how well-informed this guy was.



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At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi – I asked for fair trade coffee at the Starbucks at Wellesley and Yonge in Toronto. They did not have any brewed, but opened a bag and ground some to make a cup. They made it in a French press, which they obviously don’t use often, because it tasted awful. It was a funny colour and had a ring of sediment inside the cup. Yuck. Also, I don’t understand why their fair trade coffee is from all over the place – it is blended with multiple coffees, so they don’t say where it is from. They said this was so it had a more ‘consistent’ taste, which seems dubious to me. Part of the great thing about places like Bridgehead coffee ( in Ottawa is that they have fair trade coffee from many different countries and tell you where it comes from, so you can experiment with different varieties.

Thanks for the challenge,

Colleen Malone

Ottawa, Canada

At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Blending coffees to achieve a more consistent taste is a normal thing to do when you source coffee from suppliers that supply different beans at different harvests, or if you source from a changing pool of suppliers. Many big brand name coffees are blends just because the customers want always the same taste. It's not 'dubious' in that sense, it's only sad that customers expect one cup after another to taste the same.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Siel said...

Well -- The main reason more of Starbucks' stuff isn't fair trade certified is cuz Starbucks just won't work to get it certified, the scrooges. Sure, it would be tough to go 100%, but there's nothing holding them back from getting more than a measly 1.6% certified --

At 4:42 PM, Anonymous beev said...

I have to say I think they're being a bit misleading if they're getting their baristas to say all their coffee is "fairly traded".

As Siel pointed out on her blog, that's a rather dubious claim.


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