Friday, April 21, 2006

Starbucks II

Flush with success from the last Starbucks challenge I was contemplating what a normal cup of coffee from Starbucks actually tastes like - only ever having had a cappuccino, latte or mocha. So on my way in to work this morning I asked the friendly Barista at London Bridge for a cup of normal coffee, of the Fairtrade variety.

It didn't start well when she couldn't really understand that I just wanted a cup of coffee, not something with a stupid sounding faux-Italian name. I nearly ended up with a grande milk. God knows how. And seriously, what's wrong with 'small, medium or large'?

You know, everyone who works in Starbucks is Italian. I wonder if they realise that it's not actually an Italian company. Maybe Starbucks is highly valued in Italy, like us drinking Lavazza or something. Anyway, this girl wasn't quite as clued up as her predecessor and palmed me off with a 'it's not brewed, so you can't have any'. I asked if she could brew some - her reply 'we only serve what's brewed, would you like to taste? It's nice, from Guatamala'.

She wasn't really getting the point. It's not about how good it tastes (although Fairtrade 'supposedly' tastes better than normal coffee), why would I be stipulating Fairtrade when I could be so easily dazzled by a smooth Guatamalan blend? Fairtrade isn't a country, is it?

Not sure if it fits with the challenge or not, but I told her that she was supposed to brew up a cup on request - to which she replied that they didn't have any - so that's that. I headed to Pret instead, and while I know they're owned by McDonalds now, their coffee is all Fairtrade, as is all the sugar, and the milk's organic. Have some of that for ethical consumerism.

4 comments:

TheCompleteGeek said...

OK this has nothing to do with Starbucks or Pret or Fair Trade. It has to do with your blog's name. Is it, "Otis Lives" as in, "Otis is alive and well and kicking"? If so, how did you come across this little moniker? My curiousity stems from my loose association with these guys who make a rather annoying habit of detailing all of Otis' behavior. Has the last true faith on this pathetic little planet finally made it across the pond? Enquiring minds want to know.

Tim said...

http://www.fredric.co.uk/mi/Liverpool%20and%20Lancaster%20April2006/we%20stop%20in%20100%20miles%20for%20coffee.jpg

green LA girl said...

Wow -- This is fascinating! About Pret, I mean. I live in the US, but was super impressed when McDonalds converted all the coffee in their Northeast stores to fair trade (600+ stores).

Thanks for taking the challenge again. We'll have to count these towards the official 4.0 challenge, which kicks off 5/1 --

Will said...

In actual fact I was jumping the gun about Pret - I blame their unclear advertising. Anyway, their actual stance is:

"Do you use Fairtrade coffee? Our decaffeinated coffee and our filter coffee is Fairtrade. The rest of our coffee is not 100% Fairtrade but is ethically sourced. What exactly does that mean? Well, our new blend has been sourced using co-operatives that work with growers to provide good working conditions and wages to their employees. Our coffee supplier works with the ETI (Ethical Trading Initiative) to ensure that workers conditions are improved and meet international standards. Specifically, that means for each of the regions that provide our beans:

* Our Brazilian bean is grown by Guaxupé which provides employment for up to 500 people during the local season;
* Our Costa Rican bean comes from the Coocafe co-operative that comes in line with Fairtrade certification and ISO standards;
* Our Ethiopian bean is provided by the Oromia co-operative, who also actively market organic and Fairtrade coffees to secure additional premiums. This co-operative avoids the auction system, which is very common in Ethiopia, and helps reduce the supply chain from around 14 stages to just 5;
* And our Sumatran bean is grown by Sari Makmur, which provides a central processing facility for local farmers so they can commercialise their produce to international markets. They have also built a new toilet block for staff as part of their ETI continual improvement plan."

From http://www.pret.com/our_food/just_roasted.htm

It's true about the sugar and milk though.