Starbucks’ CAFE Practices Vs. Fair Trade

You may have heard of Starbucks’ CAFE Practices, a program Starbucks is claiming is superior to fair trade. CAFE Practices is described on Starbucks’ website as “guidelines designed to help us work with coffee farmers to ensure high-quality coffee and promote equitable relationships with farmers, workers and communities, as well as protect the environment.”

But Seia over at Green LA Girl is wondering why we should be trusting Starbucks with their alternative to fair trade when they developed it by themselves and for themselves. The program hasn’t been audited by any third-parties, which means we’re just trusting Starbucks that this is better for local farmers than fair trade… as opposed to the most obvious suspicion that this is simply better for Starbucks than fair trade. Trust ill-placed, especially given Starbucks doesn’t guarantee farmers a minimum price guarantee.

It’s a great read, and Seia points to Whole Foods similar fair trade alternative as precedent, which ended up being worse for farmers overall. The lesson here is don’t trust companies when they try to claim they care for other businesses more than themselves, especially when the company is Starbucks’ and the businesses they care about are small businesses, which the company has a long history of trying to obliterate through callow legal threats.

Starbucks’ CAFE Practices


Edit Your Comment

  1. L_Emmerdeur says:

    The fact that Starbucks coffee is terrible quality and tastes like battery acid should in no way influence anybody’s coffee consumption patterns.

  2. embean says:

    I work for Starbucks. The story is that, some farms are too small to afford certification, so Starbucks will go in and pay them “better than fair trade”, they say, and give them the money so their workers can have benefits, etc. There’s lots of nice videos showing happy workers going to the doctor, etc. But the thing I wonder about is, these farms have to be large enough to supply all of Starbucks (10,000 stores+), so how are they too small to afford certification? They also say, fair trade coffee is not necessarily “good” coffee, and they look for the best coffee, fair trade or not, and then implement this. However I do believe Starbucks is an ethical company, I think it would be best if they took the steps to assist these farms into getting certified.