Starbucks responsible coffees

by JulieCraves on May 16, 2006

Under the Starbucks category, you can read more about the company’s struggles with committing to Fair Trade and environmentally-responsible coffees.  In particular, Green LA Girl has two posts (here and here) regarding the Starbucks point-based CAFE Practices as they compare to Fair Trade. (Update: an in-depth overview of the latest version of CAFE Practices and their environmental standards here.)

Many people go to Starbucks and want to know — or should know — about which coffees are their most responsible. Here is a run-down on their current offerings.

  • Organic Shade Grown Mexico.  Medium roast, origin Chiapas, Mexico.  Grown near the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, a park threatened in part by coffee plantations. This is one of the coffees produced in partnership with Conservation International, their “Conservation Coffee.”  Although the description on the Starbucks web page says “traditional shade-growing,” as noted in the post about the partnership, it does not appear that these coffees are grown with any specific or enforced rules regarding degree of shade management or level of organic practices.  Therefore, it does not seem that this coffee is comparable to coffees that are certified organic or bird-friendly. (Update: review and background of this coffee here.)
  • Shade grown Mexican decaf. Medium roast, origin Chiapas, Mexico. Description makes it sound like the same coffee as above, yet it is not labeled organic.
  • Serena Organic. Medium roast, origin Latin America and east Africa. No indication what organization, if any, certifies this as organic.  Coffee Review review.
  • Cafe Estima. Bold roast, origin not specified.  Their featured “Good Coffee, Doing Good” blend.

Starbucks has a line of Black Apron limited edition coffees. They give $15,000 to the farmers of each Black Apron coffee for community projects.  These beans are pricey, and $3 of each half pound must go into producing the fancy laser-cut box.  I just tried the Rwanda Blue Bourbon Black Apron, which is just about at the end of its run, and liked it quite a bit.  But then, I’m a fan of Rwandan coffees.

On the one hand, I give Starbucks some credit for attempting to buy and market responsible coffees; the fact they do it is what counts for me, I don’t care whether they are dragged into it kicking and screaming.  On the other hand, I personally am not a Starbucks fan and think a lot of their coffee is over-roasted.  Click on the Starbucks category for more on the company’s coffees and policies.

Revised on December 23, 2018

Posted in Retail and specialty roasters,Starbucks

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