Starbucks C.A.F.E. Practices vs. Fair Trade Certified Coffee

Hello supporters of all things fair trade! My name is Jack Ramaika and I am a student here at PSU Brandywine. I am also a lover of coffee, which would lead me to find a job at Starbucks Coffee. I have been a partner at Starbucks since 2006. In my time at Starbucks, I have been very proud of the company and the principles on which we stand. When I joined the Fair Trade movement at PSU Brandywine, I began to take a serious look at how Starbucks purchases and deals with the producers of their coffee beans. I found that Starbucks has created, with cooperation from Conservation International, what they call Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices. Starbucks believes that this scorecard-based system helps farmers grow coffee in a way that is better for both people and the environment. It is focused on product quality, economic accountability, social responsibility, and environmental leadership.

Responsibly Grown Coffee, from Starbucks

When I began to ask the company why we only had one fair trade certified coffee in the U.S. market (Italian Roast) the response was that the C.A.F.E. Practices model actually was superior to the fair trade standards. Starbucks is quick to point out on the same web page that it is the number one purchaser of fair trade certified coffee in the world. In fact, Starbucks writes that they increased their purchases of fair trade certified coffee from 19 million pounds in 2008 to 39 million pounds in 2009. Responsibly Sourced Coffee I found some websites that support this belief, such as I also found criticism at Bean Activist.

A percentage of these purchases come from the UK. Market where Fair Trade Certified Coffee is used for every espresso based drink. My next question is… Why not have fair trade coffee beans be used for all espresso based drinks in the US market? Can you imagine the increase in purchases of fair trade coffee beans? The answer is that there is not enough demand for fair trade in the US market. As consumers we must demand fair trade coffee options. Another reason why I love Starbucks coffee is that they are open to ideas. You can voice your opinion on this matter at My Starbucks Idea. I went to the site myself and searched Fair Trade Certified Coffee and here you can see the results,

Starbucks CAFE Practices, from Coffee & Conservation

I am very proud to be a partner at Starbucks Coffee. Our commitment to the community and to the ethical purchasing of the coffee beans that are used to create the Starbucks Brand. What I will say is that old saying, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Starbucks Coffee has the chance to lead the coffee industry into a new era of social responsibility. By truly backing the fair trade movement and uniting behind the same cause, Starbucks could provide the leadership to bring about true change. So all you lovers of the coffee bean make your voice heard!

Contributed by Jack Ramaika, founding Fair Trade TrailBlazer

Weis Market has (limited) Fair Trade food items

Recently, a local grocery store closed and a new Weis Market opened in its place (you can find it on our Google Map in Conshohocken).  I remember shopping at Weis when I was an undergraduate student at Bucknell University in central PA, but I had not seen one here in southeastern PA.  So, I decided to check it out to look for – of course – Fair Trade food items on the shelves!

At first, I was disappointed – I didn’t see any Fair Trade certified bananas, baking chocolate chips, or tea.  Finally, I turned down an aisle and I see this:
Coffee at Weis Grocery Store

Not only did I see the Fair Trade logo that I had been looking for, but it was on a store brand!  Then, I came across some Green Mountain K-cups, Honest Tea, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Larabar bars, and Green & Black’s organic chocolate.  The selection of Fair Trade food items is probably the most limited I have seen in an area grocery store, but at least there are some Fair Trade items on the shelves.  Hopefully, in the near future, Weis Markets will be proud of their Fair Trade products, do a better job promoting the ones they have, and add even more for consumers to purchase.

– Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin