Former Barista Tells Starbucks: Brew More Fair Trade Coffee

Starbucks photo
Image: marcopako via flickr

Sam Greenblatt liked working for Starbucks—he thought the company treated its employees well. But when he learned that Starbucks offers 100-percent fair trade-certified coffee and espresso at its stores in Europe, he decided it was time to speak up about the lack of similar practices in the U.S.So he launched an online petition at And with good timing, since October happens to be Fair Trade Month.

The petition says:

in the U.S., even getting a single cup of Fair Trade coffee from Starbucks can be a challenge. That's because the largest coffee chain in the U.S. doesn't offer a brewed Fair Trade choice in its American stores every day. And when they do offer a Fair Trade option, its often poorly advertised as such. It is time for Starbucks to work with customers to help their growers maintain a sustainable standard of living that Starbucks employees enjoy.

"When I worked as a barista for Starbucks, I admired the company's commitment to treat employees and customers with fairness and respect," said Greenblatt, who worked at a Massachusetts Starbucks in 2006 and 2007. "It's time for Starbucks to expand that commitment to the farmers who grow Starbucks coffee by offering at least one daily brewed fair trade coffee option in their U.S. stores."

As I write this, the petition has nearly 20,000 signatures, with a goal of 25,000. Hopefully Starbucks will heed Greenblatt's call and even take it a step further—and offer 100 percent fairly-traded coffee. Fair trade shouldn't be a "flavor" to choose from. It should define the coffee market, and Starbucks can play a large part in making that happen.

One More Thing...
It may not be part of the online petition, but there's another difference between Starbucks stores in Europe and the U.S. that's worth pointing out—cups. In many of its European stores, Starbucks serves drinks in ceramic mugs, while a vast majority of, if not all, U.S. locations use disposable cups only.

But maybe there's a reason for that. Starbucks?

More on fair trade coffee:
High Food Prices Trigger Changes to Fair Trade Coffee
10 Fair Trade Coffee Companies Offering an Eco-Conscious Caffeine Jolt (Slideshow)

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