Monday, 13 June 2005


"All our coffee is Fair Trade"

A bad thing has happened. I have discovered Starbucks' Cheese and Marmite Panini. Stepping off the train at Liverpool Street tonight nothing else was going to hit the spot.

As for the drink to wash it down with, "a Fair Trade black coffee please". They were out. "I'm sure you'd love the Brazilian instead."

All the staff turned round when I declined. By the time I explained "I only drink Fair Trade", there was silence in the coffee shop. They didn't know how to handle it. (The fact is, I was one minute away from the Greenbelt office and I knew I could scrounge a cup there.)

That's when I was told the lie. "All our coffee is Fair Trade."

It turns out Starbucks are doing better than most, and their literature at least reflects a desire to treat farmers fairly - even those whose produce has not been certified as Fair Trade. I guess a large multinational has the clout to do that: to use its influence not to drive prices down, but to drive working conditions up.

It has the capability, but is it doing so in practise? For me that's where the independent scrutiny of the Fair Trade mark comes in. Let's hope Starbucks continues to push in that direction. Oh, and train their staff to refrain from gawping.

Posted by pab at 22:48 | Comments will be back later in the year. Please email me instead!