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A Gentle Giant

November 11, 2009

[tweetmeme @helphandrewards]Among many coffee drinking consumers, it has a very negative image. Its presence is viewed like a Wal-Mart to the coffee shop industry, running smaller family-owned stores out of town. Contrary to popular belief, Starbucks has actually done the opposite. The presence of a Starbucks has actually benefited many “mom and pop” coffee boutiques in many cases (not to say there haven’t been a few casualties along the way…). The coffee giant also provies several other benefits that its local competition does not such as health benefits to employees, greater wages and of course…fair trade coffee.

Starbucks is the world’s largest producer of fair trade coffee. In 2008, the company purchased 385 million pounds of coffee for $1.49 per pound, 13 cents higher than the market value of that time. Within the next six months, the company is partnering with Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) to have every espresso drink served in Europe be Starbucks Fairtrade-certified. This effort alone, attained successfully, will help smaller farmers (most of which are located in poorer Latin American countries) earn $4 million annually.

Also in the works, Starbucks is partnering up with the African Wildlife Foundation to build a coffee quality lab in Kenya. Most coffee farmers up until now did not even get to drink or taste the coffee crop they harvested. The tools that this partnership is providing will help farmers improve their planting and harvesting techiniques and ultimately the qulaity of their crop.

Using its giant corporate muscle, Starbucks incorporates many forms of sustainable business practices to help improve lives for others. Like them or not, the choice is yours.

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