Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Fair Trade”

Starbucks Not So Starry?

This week, Starbucks are celebrating their 40-year anniversary.

There are a lot of people out there who really have it in for Starbucks. Just google anti-Starbucks search words and see for yourself. I have to say that while I am not particularly expecting the company to be perfect, I am far from joining the protesters, despite having repeatedly written about the multinationals having too much power. I prefer to go to a local coffee shop, not because I dislike Starbucks, but because I want to support local traders.

But here’s the deal. The coffee must be good, the ambiance conducive and comfortable to write, the bathrooms clean and the staff happy and interactive. If I go to a local coffee shop and find this, I will stay loyal. In Berkeley we take our coffee seriously, and so do the local coffee shops. But when challenged in certain areas of San Francisco and on the road, I often turn to the green goddess of Starbucks or the solid, reliable Peets coffee.

I have read several books about the special Starbucks mentality and embraced it in training my own staff and as a model for creating an environment and service to our students. I have written here positively on several occasions about Starbucks. I have defended their Fair Trade policy and complimented their coffee grounds for compost initiative.

But there are a lot of people out there who hate, yes I said hate, Starbucks. Try this website (you really only need to read its name) or the You Tube video below.

I was surprised to see the allegations about Starbucks heavy-handedness against attempts for a workers union. In The Accidental Activist, the multinational is the bad guy and my heroes admonish them for exactly what is being claimed here.

Starbucks supporters: what do you say about the company being anti-trade union? I need to hear that they are wrong. It will be easier than changing my drinking habits.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/

 

 

Are Starbucks Free Trade?

Starbucks work hard to be a huge successful business and maintain the ideological tenants that guided them in the early years. They heard their customers call for Free Trade coffee and answered the call.

Or did they? Others say they merely made a symbolic gesture to fool us that their coffee is Fair Trade.

Now independent coffee shop owners such as Joe Cesa, who owns Joe Coffee Bar in Philadelphia, is hardly going to be objective, given that his little cafe is probably surrounded by several Starbucks.

 

But I do wonder what the truth is? If you know any more, please let us know in the comments below.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

More Coffee Issues – Fair Trade

I guess that once you ground out the basic issues of what to do with the end product of the coffee journey, then you really need to look at the other end of the production line. I think coffee is actually one of the few food products where we are succeeding to make social progress.

About six months ago I saw a great hour-long documentary about the coffee industry. It was done really well and unabashedly showed both sides of the argument. If you know the name of the documentary, please leave me a message in the comments.


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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

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