Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Starbucks Challenge Update

Starbucks ChallengeThe Starbucks challenge started by Green LA Girl and CityHippy is in its final week. I am really impressed by the efforts put in by Siel (green LA girl) and CityHippy into organizing and coordinating this. It inspired me to read and educate myself a bit more about fair trade movement.

The way the challenge unfolded has been amazing. Here is how it turned out:
October 4, 05: Starbucks challenge announced by green LA girl and CityHippy

October 6, 05: "No fair trade for you". I challenge the local Starbucks without luck. Meanwhile many other bloggers all over US and UK join the challenge and visit their local Starbucks to get a cup of Fair Trade coffee.

October 7, 05: Cindy from Starbucks' corporate social responsibility department contacts Siel

October 7, 05: I challenge the local Starbucks again. This time I specifically ask for a French pressed cup. Success! I get my fair trade coffee but have to pay the venti price (by default) when I specifically asked for a tall small cup.

October 9, 05: Lot of bloggers are joining the challenge (tracked by feed here) and reporting similar patterns in the response from baristas.

October 10, 05: Starbucks press release says that the week (Mon 10/10 - Sun 10/16) is Fair Trade week. Cafe Estima (Starbucks' only fair trade certified blend) will be brewed the whole week. True to their word I did get fair trade certified coffee in the local Starbucks that week.

October 10, 05: Siel has her first chat with Cindy from Starbucks.

October 15, 05: In a communication with Siel, Starbucks admits a breakdown in customer service regarding serving fair trade coffee.

October 24, 05: Starbucks challenge enters its final week. 69 bloggers have joined and posted their experiences about 89 challenges. ( feed here)

October 25, 05: Starbucks sends email communication to all its US stores reminding them about the "coffee press on request" policy. (Siel's post). I am really impressed with the local Starbucks. I went there on the 24th and asked for fair trade again. This time there was no problem, the barista promptly told me to wait for a few minutes and I was able to get my cup of fair trade coffee without any problems. I didn't have to pay the "venti" price by default.

October 26, 05: Today! The last I checked the feed was tracking 178 links.
So there you go! A simple initiative shows how blogs can be used effectively as a medium for collective action. It shows how such action can be well coordinated (kudos to Green LA girl and CityHippy) and effective. So if you haven't challenged your local Starbucks already, challenge on!

If you were not aware about fair trade coffee and related issues, here's your chance to educate yourself about it. Find out if any of your local coffee shops serve fair trade coffee. In State College e.g. Webster's bookstore and cafe serves "shade grown, organic, fair trade certified" coffee year round. That's the ONLY coffee they serve (and at a price far more affordable that Starbucks I would add).

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1 comment:

City Hippy said...

Thanks mate...your post really put its into perspective...we have already achieved so much.

There is no way this challenge would have been a success without GreenLAGirl...her hard work and knowledge of Fair Trade and Coffee issues is astounding...round of applause for Siel...