The Starbucks Challenge – keeping a promise about fair trade coffee.
The Starbucks Challenge began in October of 2005.
Starbucks had made a promise. They said that if anyone came into any one of their stores and asked for a mug of fair trade coffee, they would be given one.
They went on to say that if they didn’t have a carafe of fair trade coffee already brewed, they would French press a mug just for that one customer.
That was their promise, but the company didn’t seem to have told all their stores and baristas about it. So when people asked to have a mug of fair trade coffee French pressed, they didn’t always get one. In fact, it was rare that they did.
Never underestimate the power of the web...
Starbucks had made the promise in order to please supporters of fair grade coffee. They wanted to be seen to be doing the right thing.
But they didn’t act on what they said.
So two bloggers, CityHippy and GreenLAGirl started using their blogs to publicize the “Starbucks challenge”.
They invited people to go into any Starbucks store and ask for a mug of fair trade coffee...and then report back on what happened.
So far over 300 people from 13 different countries have taken up the challenge and then written in to describe their experiences.
More often than not, these people did not get their fair trade coffee.
Why the Starbucks Challenge is important...
Starbucks has done perhaps more than any other company to promote the enjoyment of quality gourmet coffees. They have done a remarkable job.
That said, they have been slow to support the fair trade coffee movement.
In time they will probably do more.
But one thing they did wrong in this instance was to make a promise and then break it. They promised that anyone could ask for and get fair trade coffee from any of their stores, but didn’t deliver on their promise.
This unfortunate both for their own reputation, and for the fair trade coffee movement.
The fair trade coffee movement is important, and needs the genuine support of big companies like Starbucks.
Hopefully, the publicity generate by the Starbucks Challenge will make a difference.
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