City Hippy

The diary of our struggle to live a green and fair life.

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CityHippy has posted its last post now (I now work for EMP plc, run At Home magazine online and more and personally blog over at Why? Click here to find out. We might be back. Keep our RSS feeds, keep us bookmarked, sign up for the news alert on the right. You never know...

We are dedicated to exploring how to live a greener and more ethical life. City Hippy is a growing collective of writers bringing you two types of content:

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

NEWS: Starbucks Challenge 3.0 Demand an answer!

So Starbucks admitted it hasn't lived up to its own highly trumpeted fair-trade-friendly policy to French press a cup of fair trade coffee for anyone who asks for it. It's a "break down in customer service," Starbucks said, and sent out some emails to its stores.

But two months into the challenge, things STILL haven't improved much. And the mermaid STILL hasn't answered our questions -- How does Starbucks plan to fix the problem? When?

Regardless of politics, most of us agree on one thing: If a company makes a promise, it should stick to it.

Demand an answer from Starbucks! Sign our letter here!

Win a prize!
On Dec. 16, on the day of our LA-based meeting with Starbucks, City Hippy and green LA girl will award a prize to 2 people who galvanized the most people into signing the letter.

The prizes? Some Monkey & Son Krakatoa fair trade organic coffee, and fair trade yummies from

And keep taking the challenge:

1) Simply visit your local Starbucks and ask: "Could I get a cup of fair trade coffee?"

2) Tell us what happens next. Was it hard or easy to get a cup?

BLOGGERS: simply blog about what happened and tag it with "starbuckschallenge" (all one word) on (put the Starbucks location in the "extended" description). We'll pull all articles into a feed and run that on our site - you can run the feed too, of course, if you'd like. ALSO help us get feedback by telling people about this challenge on your blogs.

NON-BLOGGERS: tell us what happened by emailing City Hippy or green LA girl, and we'll do the rest.
Challenge results
We'll be in frequent contact with Starbucks, but on Dec. 16, City Hippy and green LA girl will go to Starbucks with the letter and demand some concrete details as to what the company plans to do, if anything.

Keep taking challenges, and please feel free to let us know what YOU think our next step should be as activists, and what you think Starbucks' next step should be as a company that says it wants to be a leader in corporate social responsibility.

Have a fair trade day.

City Hippy and green LA girl

Useful posts:
The Launch, 2.0, 3.0, Activism 2.0 (analysis of new wave of consumer activism), FAQ, challenges ( and finally the ever developing Google Map.


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At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did the challenge this morning at a Starbucks in Great Neck, NY (71 Middle Neck Rd).

Time: 9:30am.

Personnel: There were two baristas on duty, with one customer ahead and one behind me in line.

While one barista was filling the first customer’s order, I asked for “a cup of Estima, the Fair Trade blend.” (I probably should have just asked for Fair Trade, to see if he would mention the Estima blend). The barista glanced back at board which listed the currently-brewing coffees, and asked whether I meant a cup or a pound. When I confirmed that I wanted just a cup, he said that it wasn’t brewing today. I asked him to press me a cup, and he immediately said OK – no questions asked, zero attitude. He went about opening the bag and pressing the Estima right away, but it still took about ten minutes from start to finish (I think he handed the job off to barista #2 at one point, and the pressing took a back seat to the order of the customer behind me). Nevertheless, even though I had forgotten to specify the size I wanted, the barista again did not react negatively at all (or overcharge me) when I asked for a tall after the coffee had been brewed. I did leave a buck in the tip jar, but I think the extra time and money was worth the experience. And the coffee was one of the best-tasting I’ve ever had at a Starbucks!!

Thanks for the inspiration for this challenge.

Next time I’ll ask for organic. :-)

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Speedmaster said...

I think some of you might be taking this fair-trade business a little too seriously. ;-)


At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this article after questioning a Starbucks employee about their fairtrade coffee. He reckoned all Starbucks coffee is fairtrade and I was forced to correct him on that!

I also noticed some prominently placed corporate literature about Starbucks' fairtrade policy. It says "Fairtrade coffee is available in..." which in my opinion is very misleading and does incorrectly imply that all coffee available in the outlet is fair traded.

Sounds like another case of clever psychologically-charged advertising subtley misleading the masses.

At 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

all of this is great in the long run if starbucks gets the point, but what about all of the fairtrade & organic independant coffee houses? why don't you advocate finding them & switching as many people possible to thier shops...i'm sure that would get starbucks attention!!


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