Is Starbucks fair trade? If you ask this in a Starbucks store, many times you will get a “yes” from one of the barista’s. If you ask the average person on the street they may not know. And as for me, my answer is a little mixed. No, they are not a Fair Trade company. They do, however, carry a fair trade labeled coffee.
To get into the debate about whether or not Starbucks is good or evil is not what I want to do here. I know that many people choose Starbucks as there shop of choice and that many in the world of Fair Trade choose not to support Starbucks. My goal is to provide those who frequent Starbucks with knowledge and options and encourage a Fair Trade choice.
Starbucks does in fact carry a Fair Trade labeled coffee, although it can be hard to find and it has recently changed. If you are familiar with the coffee giant you may recognize their fair trade coffee as “Cafe Estima”. It was a multi-region, dark roast blend that was available on most of their coffee shop shelves. This line, however, has been discontinued in stores and is now only available on-line. Starbucks has recently introduced a whole new line of roasts and has added a new line of Fair Trade Certified coffee as well: the Italian Roast. The Italian roast, like the line it replaces, is a multi-region dark roast and should be available on most Starbucks store shelves. It may or may not make its way into a grocery store near you.
So just to be clear, the Italian Roast is the only line of Starbucks coffee that is Certified Fair Trade. From their website, Starbucks says, “As one of the largest purchasers of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee, Starbucks is committed to paying fair prices to help give farming families a better life and ensure coffee farms are protected for the future.” Because Starbucks is a giant corporation it is not hard to see that it does in fact buy a large amount of Fair Trade coffee but it only puts that coffee into one line that it sells in its stores.
The good news for Starbucks goers is that there is more than one way to get your hands on some Italian Roast Fair Trade coffee. 1) Consider substituting the Italian Roast for another Starbucks coffee that you purchase and make at home. Most stores should carry the 1lb bags of this roast on their shelves. 2) If not available at your local store, check out online. 3) If the store you frequent has a “Clover” machine, ask the barista to brew you a fresh cup with the Italian Roast. All stores should accommodate this request and I have had a “Clover” cup of the Italian Roast in the Healdsburg store. 4) If there is no Clover machine, ask them to brew you a french press cup with the Italian Roast instead. Again, most stores should be willing to accommodate your request and it is more common than you might think.
Is Starbucks as a company Certified Fair Trade? No, but they do carry a Fair Trade Certified line of coffee and it’s possible for you get it in beans, grounds, or freshly brewed at your local store. It’s different than you may remember, no longer Cafe Estima, but rather Italian Roast. So if you are keen on trying new things, ask for a Clover or french press of this Fair Trade coffee next you visit a Starbucks. And if you were wondering why Starbucks no longer carried the Cafe Estima, now you know that they were not discontinuing all things Fair Trade, but rather changing to a different roast.