Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Starbucks Responds In Kind To Oxfam YouTube Video 492

Posted by kdawson
from the better-latte-than-never dept.
Kligmond writes "Last week, Starbucks placed a video on YouTube responding to a video posted by the Oxfam Charity. The Oxfam video was launched in conjunction with 'Starbucks Day of Action,' held December 16th, when activists visited Starbucks locations across the world in protest of the coffee retailer's alleged mistreatment of Ethiopian farmers. The Starbucks video calmly addresses the Oxfam allegations, citing an impasse over Ethiopian trademark legalities. Starbucks claims the refusal to sign a trademark agreement with Ethiopia is a stumbling block they hope to resolve on behalf of the farmers. The coffee chain's representative goes on to refute the contention that Starbucks refuses to pay a fair price for its coffee reserves and, in fact, routinely pays well above commodity price, and above fair trade price. Unlike many recent ineffectual corporate reactions to social journalism and networking eruptions, Starbucks' response is unique in that the corporation managed Oxfam's unconventional assault in a very unconventional way, via YouTube. Regardless of the outcome of this particular incident, the move on Starbucks' part comes off as unmistakably in touch with today's communication modes and methods."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Starbucks Responds In Kind To Oxfam YouTube Video

Comments Filter:
  • by thrill12 (711899) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:22PM (#17436442) Journal
    ...a response...

    But why ? Does she crave for good coffee on the Battlestar ? Didn't the 12 colonies invest in fair trade coffee ? Why is she all of a sudden so sensitive about why Oxfam posted a youtube video anyway ?

    What new plot twist of BG do I not understand ?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:22PM (#17436452)
    Next time do a little research Oxfam. Starbucks is one of the most socially responsible companies out there. They are pretty much why their is such a thing as "fair trade" coffee.

    And to all the people that say *bucks pushes out the mom and pops: when was the last time they offered carreers or health insurance?
    • I think my main complaint about starbucks is the fact that they don't seem to know how to *not* burn their coffee beans.

      I'm glad that they are relatively socaially concious, but my personal opinion is that their coffee sucks. When I was still on campus, I really prefered the one coffee shop off campus that was also all fair trade stuff.
      • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @07:33PM (#17437238) Journal
        I don't understand why they do it. I know they know better. In fact, they used to roast to a "full city" roast, which the best gourmet roasters have always used, and which I prefer to lighter or darker roasts. They've since moved to a French roast, or even an Italian roast, which is too dark for me.

        More importantly, from what I understand, they don't do any real pre or post roast QA to remove clinkers, which are light, immature beans that give a grassy or off taste to coffee. They also don't date their roasts like a good gourmet shop will. As 90% of varietal flavor in coffee is gone two days after roasting, this is crucial to enjoying good coffee. When I go to my local roaster, who is an true coffee enthusiast like myself, I just say "Give me a half pound of whatever you just roasted."

        OTOH, they are a model of social repsonsibility, treating employees and suppliers well and giving back to the community through charity.
        • by AuMatar (183847) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @07:58PM (#17437462)
          Because 99% of their customers don't give a shit. They want a cup of coffee. Not a fine dining experience. They don't know the difference between roasts, what a clinker is, or what the date on a roast means (nor do I for that matter- is it newer is better, or is it a wine thing where older is?). Hell, a lot of them don't really know what the difference between a mocha and a latte is. They just want a cup of Joe at a known quality level. Maybe a quick snack too. Thats what Starbucks provides. Its pretty much like McDonalds- you don't go there for a great burger, you go there for food that you can predict how bad it will be.
          • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @08:24PM (#17437742) Homepage Journal
            What I don't get, is why these people don't simply buy their coffee at McDonalds, where it costs a lot less. ;-)
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Wolfkin (17910)
              1) McDonald's has no White Chocolate Mocha.
              2) There is no McDonald's in Barnes & Nobel, but there is a Starbucks. :)

               
          • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @09:46PM (#17438516) Journal
            Newer is better, although after three days you don't have to worry because it's gotten as bad as it's going to get for weeks. After three days, gourmet coffee will still taste good, but 90% of what differentiates, say, an east African coffee from a central American coffee is gone. That $30/pound Kona or Blue Mountain is now no different than a good $6/pound Columbian.

            Some differences, notably body and acidity, will still be there, but the complex and subtle flavors have all evaporated.

            A clinker is a lightweight, immature bean that tastes awful. Ever taste rancid, burnt, grassy, or hay-like flavors in coffee? If brewing isn't the problem, those flavors are most likely from clinkers.

            That's probably more than you ever wanted to know about coffee. I only know all this because my college girlfriend worked at a REALLY snooty coffe roaster, Willoughby's in New Haven, CT. If you want to try some really good coffee, I think they do mail-order.
            • by BigFire (13822)
              When I drink my $30 a pound Blue Mountain that I roasted myself, I know where my money went. And it really tasted great.
        • by plantman-the-womb-st (776722) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @08:00PM (#17437474)
          Well, it's simple really. The reason for the over-roasted beans at Starbucks (which causes those of us who like the taste of straight coffee and espresso to cringe) is the fact that Starbucks doesn't sell coffee. They sell coffee flavored drinks. Starbucks is responsible for the latte craze after all. Most all of their products contain so many other flavorings , dairy and sugar that the coffee has to be stronger or you wouldn't taste it. If this seems unrealistic, just go to a Starbucks and order black coffee or straight espresso. The looks the employees and other customers give you are priceless. They became a nationally known name by selling frapachinos, not coffee.
          • by Binary Boy (2407) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @08:10PM (#17437582)
            Absolutely; as someone who savors a good shot of espresso, maybe with a dollop of foam if I'm feeling fancy, Starbucks is at best adequate. At least I can get espresso there, the only such supplier in most towns sadly, but their operations are not setup to serve great coffee, it's to serve 1200 calorie milk shakes disguised as "coffee drinks". Hell, in many of the Starbucks I stop in on my travels the staff calls it "expresso".

            Still, as another poster said, it's the McD's of coffee; you go there for the consistent experience - and the wifi - not the quality. The quality isn't nearly as *bad* as McDonalds, but it's not nearly as good as many of the places I used to go, before they folded trying to compete with Starbucks. And I agree with others - they are a remarkably socially conscious big business, they treat employees well, they are fairly locally active, and I have no problem with their success.
          • by AaronStJ (182845) <AaronStJ@nosPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @10:03PM (#17438662) Homepage
            It really depends, I think, on the region. Or maybe people just don't like Starbuck's coffee, and assume they don't know what they're doing. However, my brother is a Starbucks barista and "Coffee Master" (which involved rather a lot of training in coffee) here in Seattle, and I get the impression that they really, really care about their coffee. He can tell you volumes about any one of their varieties (of coffee, not coffee drink), and even more about they're blends and why they're blended that way. He routinely gives and attends coffee tastings.

            It's important to make the distinction between brewed coffee and espresso. To be fair, Starbuck's espresso is admitedly a weak point. Like you say, it has to be strong do make an impression in the coffee drinks. But their brewed coffee varieties are something they spend a lot of effort on. They do roast darker than a lot of people, but as far as I can tell, it because they genuinely like it better that way.

            I know it's popular to assume that Starbucks doesn't care about coffee, but that's simply not true.
        • Starbucks QA (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Frosty Piss (770223) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @08:04PM (#17437506)
          I hear this business about "burnt" beans all the time, but I have to wonder if they do it because their customers like the product? There are certainly many alternatives to Starbucks (which I use whenever possible)...

          As to QA, this just isn't so. My son did his internship at the Starbucks roasting facility in Auburn, WA, an operation that is highly computer controlled (so they do know exactly how they are roasting the beans), they have an extensive QA program. So, if the coffee sucks, it's because they like it that way (!!!).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chris Burke (6130)
        I think my main complaint about starbucks is the fact that they don't seem to know how to *not* burn their coffee beans.

        Of course they know how not to, they simply chose to burn them as a matter of course. The reason? It's the only way to get a truly uniform coffee "flavor" across their entire chain. You can walk into a Starbucks anywhere and know what the coffee will taste like. In my opinion it tastes like shit, like all burned coffee does, but that isn't the point. The funny part is that for people
      • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @08:29PM (#17437774) Homepage Journal
        Read this. [wikipedia.org] The darker you roast, the less it matters what kind of bean you started with -- all beans are the same. For a national brand, that is desirable.
    • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms.infamous@net> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @07:13PM (#17437016) Homepage
      Starbucks is one of the most socially responsible companies out there. They are pretty much why their is such a thing as "fair trade" coffee.

      Starbucks is certainly quite successful at projecting an image of social responsiblity, yes - so much so that uninformed people like you believe that they created the fair trade movement, when actually Fair Trade is a decades old idea and Starbucks use of a tiny amout of Fair Trade coffee is just greenwash [organicconsumers.org].

      While Starbucks is certainly not the Pure Concentrated Evil of, say, a Halliburton or a Monsanto, neither are they the angels that their PR department would like you to believe. That they seem to treat their direct employees fairly well, is no indication of what ethics apply (or don't apply) to their deals with suppliers.

      And to all the people that say *bucks pushes out the mom and pops: when was the last time they offered carreers or health insurance?

      Uh huh. So rather than owning one's own small business, being a successful entrepreneur, the new American dream is to work for a national franchise, so that you can get health insurance. How incredibly fscking sad is that?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        Uh huh. So rather than owning one's own small business, being a successful entrepreneur, the new American dream is to work for a national franchise, so that you can get health insurance. How incredibly fscking sad is that?

        Which would you rather work for? And if you say the local roaster, you clearly have never had an ambulance ride and multiple-day stay in the hospital. Neither have I, but I know what they cost.

        • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @09:11PM (#17438230)
          Which would you rather work for? And if you say the local roaster, you clearly have never had an ambulance ride and multiple-day stay in the hospital. Neither have I, but I know what they cost.

          There is no one "cost" to know; the screwed up American health system is notorious for charging different prices depending on who you are and whether you have employer-provided health insurance (cheapest price), health insurance you paid for yourself (ripoff prices), or no health insurance (extortion). Generally, the more you're hurting for money, the more zeroes they append to your bill.

          The local roaster will also pay a much higher premium than Starbucks would have to pay for the same coverage. And if you buy health insurance yourself, instead of getting it from your employer, you run a much higher risk of having your coverage retroactively cancelled if you get sick.

          But remember, best health care system in the world.
      • by AuMatar (183847) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @08:02PM (#17437488)
        Uh huh. So rather than owning one's own small business, being a successful entrepreneur, the new American dream is to work for a national franchise, so that you can get health insurance. How incredibly fscking sad is that?


        Being an entepeneur was supposed to be the dream? I find that even more depressing. Working extremely long hours, risking bankrupcy every day, insane stress levels, all for money? No thanks, I'd rather put in my 8 hrs a day, make a fair wage, and enjoy my life.

        As for the health insurance- vote the current bunch out and vote in some liberals who will actually work on healthcare reform.
      • by chriss (26574) * <chriss@memomo.net> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @10:16PM (#17438754) Homepage
        Starbucks is certainly quite successful at projecting an image of social responsiblity, yes - so much so that uninformed people like you believe that they created the fair trade movement, when actually Fair Trade is a decades old idea and Starbucks use of a tiny amout of Fair Trade coffee is just greenwash. [organicconsumers.org]

        The article you linked just says that Starbucks only buys a small amount of FairTrade coffee. But it says nothing about how much fairly traded coffee they buy. These are two different concepts. FairTrade is a trademark for a certification process. If something is labeled you can be assured that it is fairly traded, but if something is not labeled FairTrade you cannot be sure of the opposite.

        Starbucks is a sufficient large buyer to make it interesting to implement their own fair trading. And there may be good reasons for this, e.g. the overhead of the FairTrade process. In the YouTube video they claim that they often pay even more than FairTrade, and this seems completely possible since they could optimize logistics in a way that selling FairTrade coffee to consumers wouldn't allow.

        So the complaint in the linked article is that the money Starbucks spends on coffee is not run through the FairTrade organization, not that the coffee is not traded fairly. Somehow they forgot to make this more obvious.

        Should any fairly traded product be bought from FairTrade? I don't think so. Competition does not only lower prices, it also increases efficiency (thereby allowing lowering the prices). If Starbucks can pay the coffee farmers more than FairTrade due to their better process, I welcome this, because it will increase the consumption of fairly traded coffee in a significant way, while this might not happen if the price difference stays the same as it is today possibly due to inefficiencies in the FairTrade process.

        I don't know these things, I have no numbers about how much Starbucks pays coffee farmers etc. But I have the ability to distinguish between a justified criticism and someone trying to defend their monopoly by calling someone else unethical.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @07:40PM (#17437294)
      What about Fairtrade? Its aim is to address "the injustice of low prices" by guaranteeing that producers receive a fair price "however unfair the conventional market is", according to FLO International's website. In essence, it means paying producers an above-market "Fairtrade" price for their produce, provided they meet particular labour and production standards. In the case of coffee, for example, Fairtrade farmers receive a minimum of $1.26 per pound for their coffee, or $0.05 above the market price if it exceeds that floor. This premium is passed back to the producers to spend on development programmes. The market for Fairtrade products is much smaller than that for organic products, but is growing much faster: it increased by 37% to reach 1.1 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2005. Who could object to that?

      Economists, for a start. The standard economic argument against Fairtrade goes like this: the low price of commodities such as coffee is due to overproduction, and ought to be a signal to producers to switch to growing other crops. Paying a guaranteed Fairtrade premium--in effect, a subsidy--both prevents this signal from getting through and, by raising the average price paid for coffee, encourages more producers to enter the market. This then drives down the price of non-Fairtrade coffee even further, making non-Fairtrade farmers poorer. Fairtrade does not address the basic problem, argues Tim Harford, author of "The Undercover Economist" (2005), which is that too much coffee is being produced in the first place. Instead, it could even encourage more production.

      Mr Bretman of FLO International disagrees. In practice, he says, farmers cannot afford to diversify out of coffee when the price falls. Fairtrade producers can use the premiums they receive to make the necessary investments to diversify into other crops. But surely the price guarantee actually reduces the incentive to diversify?

      Another objection to Fairtrade is that certification is predicated on political assumptions about the best way to organise labour. In particular, for some commodities (including coffee) certification is available only to co-operatives of small producers, who are deemed to be most likely to give workers a fair deal when deciding how to spend the Fairtrade premium. Coffee plantations or large family firms cannot be certified. Mr Bretman says the rules vary from commodity to commodity, but are intended to ensure that the Fairtrade system helps those most in need. Yet limiting certification to co-ops means "missing out on helping the vast majority of farm workers, who work on plantations," says Mr Wille of the Rainforest Alliance, which certifies producers of all kinds.

      Guaranteeing a minimum price also means there is no incentive to improve quality, grumble coffee-drinkers, who find that the quality of Fairtrade brews varies widely. Again, the Rainforest Alliance does things differently. It does not guarantee a minimum price or offer a premium but provides training, advice and better access to credit. That consumers are often willing to pay more for a product with the RA logo on it is an added bonus, not the result of a formal subsidy scheme; such products must still fend for themselves in the marketplace. "We want farmers to have control of their own destinies, to learn to market their products in these competitive globalised markets, so they are not dependent on some NGO," says Mr Wille.

      But perhaps the most cogent objection to Fairtrade is that it is an inefficient way to get money to poor producers. Retailers add their own enormous mark-ups to Fairtrade products and mislead consumers into thinking that all of the premium they are paying is passed on. Mr Harford calculates that only 10% of the premium paid for Fairtrade coffee in a coffee bar trickles down to the producer. Fairtrade coffee, like the organic produce sold in supermarkets, is used by retailers as a means of identifying price-insensitive consumers who will pay more, he says.

      As with organic food, the Fairtrade movement is unde

    • Step 1. Convince humans to grant me the legal rights of a natural person.

      Step 2. Leverage my ability to never die and to farm the responsibilities for my actions out to replaceable 'employees'

      Step 3. Become the dominant organisation to such an overwhelming extent that the majority of humans don't even consider the idea that my powers are illegitimate.

      Step 4. profit!!! (no, really)
  • Fair Trade coffee (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Then buy it from a Fair Trade company. Better for the money go to the people making the coffee than middlemen.

    http://www.ifat.org/furtherreading/libraryftgoods. shtml [ifat.org]
  • Good for Starbucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by p0tat03 (985078) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:24PM (#17436468)

    It's nice to see a company address accusations directly, without resorting to lawsuits or just more propaganda. These points were well refuted in the vid, though I would personally like to see a bit more documentation provided to show that they're not just pulling things out of their collective asses.

    I wish other companies would follow this lead - transparent, straight-forward, no-BS rebuttals of claims against them. Apple, where's your rebuttal against Greenpeace?

    • by Otter (3800) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:52PM (#17436744) Journal
      It's nice to see a company address accusations directly, without resorting to lawsuits or just more propaganda.

      I had the same reaction at first, but you know -- if Starbucks is correct (*If*. I have no idea.) and a very large, very wealthy group is engaged in a completely dishonest, high-profile smear campaign against their business, that group should get its pants sued off.

    • Technicaly It Is (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mateorabi (108522) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:54PM (#17436772) Homepage
      Well technicaly this video is a form of propeganda. Then again, so is the original Oxfam video. Propeganda is an extremely broad category and doesn't always have to mean dissembling or promoting falsehoods. Unfortunately the word 'propeganda' has lost it's neutrality in the modern lexicon and often has negative conotations for people.


      Propeganda is merely an attempt to sway a group's opinion through communication. "Getting your message out." That message can be truthful or lies, honest or deceptive, present all facts or cherry pick; it just needs to be pursuasive. I think sometims the negative connotation actualy discourages non-deceptive propeganda from more honest parties because they feer being accused of engaging in 'propeganda'.

    • Seing how their US$ 1 Billion is about to go down the drain the moment all copywrighted content is pulled, Google must be very pleased that YouTube is becoming something other than a repository of ripped TV shows and RIAA-infringing wannabe "artists".

      --
      Your gene pool needs some chlorine.
    • Sometimes it's difficult to rebut the kind of shoddy investigation that underpins such ecological or political protest as Greenpeace. Then again, one has to wonder whether such misinformation is the result of incompetence or outright lying to gain support. In the case of Greenpeace vs. Apple it [apple.com] seems [roughlydrafted.com] Greenpeace [roughlydrafted.com] lied [eu.int].

      Apparently, sensationalist lies tend to generate more checks for the cause.
  • We've already seen traditional advertising via the tubes. I guess all that's left is for the next presidential candidates to launch attacks/defenses on there.
  • by the dark hero (971268) <adriatic_hero@[ ]mail.com ['hot' in gap]> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:26PM (#17436498) Homepage
    While working at starbucks they urge you to be an absolute coffee enthusiast(not necessarily a drinker), but they really do well in taking care of its employees, surrounding community and the farmers.

    Here is the mission statement that they live their lives by:

    Establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles as we grow. The following six guiding principles will help us measure the appropriateness of our decisions:

    * Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.

    * Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.

    * Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting and fresh delivery of our coffee.

    * Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.

    * Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.

    * Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.

      For a company that exists purely to homogenise and standardise everything about the way it operates, that's a hilarious thing to have in their "mission statement".

    • 1) Promote conformity by putting a Starbucks on every corner and making each one look the same

      2) Promote Brand loyalty by pushing Gift Cards thereby forcing even non-customers to occasionally consume Starbucks

      3) Say that we embrace diversity while actually embracing conformity (see above)

      4) Reduce the number of artistic venues by putting small coffee shops out of business with our pre-packaged experience

      5) Raise the prices on our addictive substance every six months

      6) Profit!!!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        If anybody is putting those small coffee shops out of business, it's the clients who *prefer* Starbucks over the small coffee shop, for whatever reason (probably not price).

        That said, I prefer the underdogs, as long as they make good coffee.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Itchyeyes (908311)
        I find it very ironic that the most apt rebuttal, I can think of, to the arguments you present would simply be to refer you to the very episode of Southpark that you reference with the way your formatted your post.
      • by Dionysus (12737)

        2) Promote Brand loyalty by pushing Gift Cards thereby forcing even non-customers to occasionally consume Starbucks

        Someone gives you a gift card and suddenly Starbucks is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to use it? Wow... didn't know they had that kind of power. So what happens when you don't use it? Thugs come by and beat you up?

        4) Reduce the number of artistic venues by putting small coffee shops out of business with our pre-packaged experience

        Nobody is forced to go to Starbucks. If people li

      • cry me a river (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Imazalil (553163)
        1) You do realize that ( at least to my knowledge ) just about all Starbucks are franchises. That means that independent business types approach Starbucks to open shops wherever they open shops, sure Starbucks could be a good samaritan and turn people down, but the fact remains that people approach Starbucks to open stores. Yeah it sucks that some very good and unique coffee shops go under because Starbucks moves into the neighborhood, but it is the local people that vote with their wallets, don't like Star
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Triv (181010)

          1) You do realize that ( at least to my knowledge ) just about all Starbucks are franchises.


          No, they're not. [mysitespace.com] It's the other way around - some Starbucks are franchises, like those in bookstores or in malls, but the rest of the stores aren't.



          Triv

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mapinguari (110030)

        4) Reduce the number of artistic venues by putting small coffee shops out of business with our pre-packaged experience
        According to an an article [wweek.com] in a local independent newspaper, the presence of a nearby Starbucks actually helps out mom & pop coffee shops.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tim C (15259)
        2) Promote Brand loyalty by pushing Gift Cards thereby forcing even non-customers to occasionally consume Starbucks

        Well, if someone gave me a Starbucks gift card, I'd thank them kindly then wait for an opportune moment to throw it away (or sell it to a Starbucks-frequenting friend). Just because someone gives you a gift doesn't mean you're compelled to use it. Hell, if they were a good enough friend, I might even point out the error of their ways - it's not that I have anything in particular against Starbuc
    • by ray-auch (454705)
      Here is the mission statement that they live their lives by:

      If they are really living their _lives_ by their _employer's_ mission statement, then something is seriously wrong - that is slavery, not employment.

      • If they are really living their _lives_ by their _employer's_ mission statement, then something is seriously wrong - that is slavery, not employment.

        I meant corporate lives their work life by those guidelines. same as the employees must generally abide by these guidlines. say what you want, but it works.

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:47PM (#17436690) Homepage Journal
      What's the freakin' deal with making up new words for small, medium, and large?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by the dark hero (971268)
        there is an actual "small" size, but it was widely unpopular to us fat americans that love to consume so much. :P

        seriously, there is a small size(which i forget the name of),tall is the medium, grande is italian for large and venti is italian for 20 as in 20oz of zomg expensive coffee.

      • by angst_ridden_hipster (23104) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @07:10PM (#17436986) Homepage Journal
        True story:

        So a certain anonymous individual went into a Starbuck's one morning, a bit cranky because he had to be up earlier than usual. He spoke to the individual at the cash register...

        Anon.: I'd like a medium chai, please.
        Register Person: Do you mean tall or grande?
        Anon.: I mean medium.
        Register Person: We don't sell a size called medium.
        Anon.: "Medium" is a description, not a name. You sell three sizes. I'd like the one in the middle.
        Register Person: We call that size "grande."
        Anon.: Right.
        Register Person: So what is it you'd like?
        Anon.: I'd like a medium chai, please.
        Register Person: You mean a "grande."
        Anon.: Haven't we already been through this?
        Register Person: I just would like to be certain.
        Anon.: You can be certain I'm not going to use your ridiculous trademarked name, when a descriptive adjective completely connotes my intent.
        Register Person: It's not a ridiculous name -- it's Italian!
        Anon.: Yes, and "chai" is either Chinese or Sanskrit. What's that got to do with it? The word I want in English is "medium."
        Register Person: Dude, what have you got against Italians?
        Anon.: Nothing. Well, perhaps they bear some responsibility for Madonna, but I think she's actually from New York.
        Register Person: Bay City, Michigan, actually. That'll be $3.50.
  • How hard is it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kelbear (870538) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:28PM (#17436520)
    "Regardless of the outcome of this particular incident, the move on Starbucks' part comes off as unmistakably in touch with today's communication modes and methods."

    The final comment of the summary does have the ring of truth(or shall I say, truthiness?).

    But then I stop to think...c'mon, this is Youtube. How hard is it to post something on Youtube, a free service? What's more interesting is that this move is a suprise rather than the suprise itself.
    • by rilister (316428)
      That totally stood out to me. PR-speak if ever I saw it.

      Let's see. I'm guessing Starbucks don't have movie-makers on their books. Perhaps they employ a... erm.. media relations/PR consultancy of some sort? And perhaps that PR consultancy is enamoured of "grass-roots" style communications?

      Hmmm. That would explain the (admittedly impressive) YouTube response. And the subsequent posting of said response to Slashdot.

      Someone earned their dollars today. Congrats,kligmond. (or prove me wrong)
    • Re:How hard is it? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oni (41625) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:57PM (#17436804) Homepage
      >> How hard is it to post something on Youtube, a free service?

      uh well, it's easy to post on youtube, but I think you're missing the point.

      Most big megacorps don't "get it" Their decision making process involves things like lawyers who always fail on the side of caution. That's why, if you posts some completely made-up allegations about, for example Bank of America, then (if they even noticed what you had done) the Bank of America corporate execs would have a meeting in their conference room on the 400th floor of some far off building. They'd have to call in the CTO to explain to them exactly what this "ewe toob" thing was. Then the lawyers would caution against making any kind of direct rebuttal, because that might be seen as *insert lawyer-speak here*

      Meanwhile, Starbucks goes, "wtf, get a webcam we're going to respond to this bullshit"

      So you see, the point here isn't the ease or difficulty of youtube. The point is the that one corporation gets it and made a simple, common sense move.

      (btw, I hate Starbucks)
  • Probably a non story (Score:3, Interesting)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:35PM (#17436594)
    Starbucks is actually well known for it's good treatment of it's employees. A significant amount of your coffee purchase goes to health insurance where as most large retailers have gone to mostly part time policy to avoid paying benefits. I'm guessing it's their size more than their practices that are making them the target. If you attack Joe's Coffee Hut for paying 20% below market price for dirt cheap beans raised by slave labor you ain't gettin' much press interest. Attack the king of the hill and the press takes notice even if they are in fact paying a fair price for the beans and there really is no story. I used to be a big fan of invegative stories but all too often these days the story is manufactured and once you know the details many turn out to be bogus. Starfbucks may not use Blue Mountain beans but they use good quality beans so I have to believe they pay a decent price for them. They sure charge enough. I use their Expresso beans because the supermarket brands are awful. $10 for a pound of coffee that will last for weeks isn't that bad.
    • by nuzak (959558)
      > they use good quality beans

      Then they burn the shit out of them. Roasted beans are supposed to be shiny with the oils that come to the surface. Starbucks beans are dessicated. Thank god I live next to a Peets.
    • by zoftie (195518)
      .."I'm guessing it's their size more than their practices that are making them the target."...

      Its their visibility. Kraft and Nestle buy way more then any of the coffee chains even combined. .."I use their Expresso beans because the supermarket brands are awful. $10 for a pound of coffee that will last for weeks isn't that bad."..

      You should try Cape vinta, but thats only available in phillipines.
    • The only way to pay 20% below market price for anything is by buying from a fool or by use of force. If the price of coffee is 20% less than it was a few months ago then that's still the market price.
  • by Dr Kool, PhD (173800) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:44PM (#17436670) Homepage Journal
    The fairest trade system in the history of man:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism [wikipedia.org]
    • by TheWoozle (984500)
      Oh, so all the rest of us just imagined the biggest failure of capitalism:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly [wikipedia.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bmajik (96670)
        Monopolies cannot exist without government blessing. The failure of the market to prevent monopoly is not the fault of capitalism, but rather, the fault is with government involvement in the marketplace that allows and entrenches monopolies

        Examples of government blessing of monopoly:
        - land usage easements (for utilities, etc)
        - the copyright/patent system (for intellectual property)
        - airwaves / frequency ranges (for cell carriers, radio stations, etc)

        Can you think of some monopoly in the US that isn't suppo
        • Hmm, so Standard Oil and the rail robber barons have really been forgotten now?
      • by blugu64 (633729)
        "Life Sucks, Then You Die"

        about par for the course I'd say, eh?
    • by vertinox (846076)
      To be fair, "feudal contract" systems was a bit more fair with retirement benefits.

      Of course in 1200AD most people didn't live past 40.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SydShamino (547793)
      Nonsense. Capitalism is a failure unless it is tempered by regulation:

      1. Capitalism allows for and indeed promotes exploitation of common resources, putting immediate profits over long-term sustainability in things like the air and water quality, fish populations, or eco-diversity. Not even post-damage litigation can undue the damage done, and in many cases post-damage litigation is hampered because the original instigators are dead or retired or have spent all their gains. The short-sighted nature of ca
  • Is now, which side has valid claims ? But then again, news reports in Finland didnt actually say that Starbucks is the bad corporation that is not paying Fare Price for the farmers, just that they didnt sign the copyright agreements about the ethiopian coffee brands and that they are still using those even there are other big coffee companies that have agreed to sign the papers. By copyrighting the name, the farmers & trade commission tries to raise the price as farmers are getting a very small share w
  • Seems fair enough (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kentrel (526003)
    It's not Starbucks I worry about - I've researched this before and to my satisfaction they seem to be doing as good a job as they can with ensuring fairtrade in the coffee industry. It's not just a moral issue, it actually makes good business sense in the modern Western world to be concerned for the welfare of 3rd world countries. Starbucks is one of the top targets for the anti-capitalist movement, simply because they are a huge corporation, which to some anti-capitalists is a crime in itself. I think, for
  • Women (Score:5, Funny)

    by ch-chuck (9622) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:56PM (#17436794) Homepage
    I like my women like my coffee: expensive and easily available on many street corners.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:56PM (#17436798) Homepage Journal

    And I do mean a little research... First, I watched both videos. The most notable thing is that neither Oxfam's video-mentioned webpage nor the video itself actually says what Starbucks is doing. They say that starbucks is preventing the manufacturers of this coffee from using the names of the coffee, but that's as close as they come to discussing the actual situation. I was however able to find the information on Oxfam's site using google: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/press/releases/starbucks26 1006.htm [oxfam.org.uk]. Here's the meat:

    Last year the Ethiopian government filed applications to trademark its most famous coffee names, Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe. Securing the rights to these names would enable Ethiopia to capture more value from the trade, by controlling their use in the market and thereby enabling farmers to receive a greater share of the retail price. Ethiopia's coffee industry and farmers could earn an estimated £47 million extra per year.

    £3.2 billion company Starbucks prompted protests against the applications to be filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO has denied Ethiopia's applications for Sidamo and Harar, creating serious obstacles for its project.

    What, exactly, does "prompted protests" mean? It's a little further down.

    Starbucks intervened in the USPTO decision by prompting the National Coffee Association of USA, Inc. (NCA), of which it is a leading member, to oppose the approval of the trademarks.

    At a meeting held this past July at the Ethiopian Embassy, Embassy staff and advisers met with the NCA president to discuss a letter of protest filed against Ethiopia's trademark applications. Ethiopia had submitted its applications about one year earlier. According to staffers, when asked why after a year of doing nothing the NCA had decided to take action, the president of the NCA told them Starbucks had just brought it to the NCA's attention.

    Okay, so if Starbucks is part of the NCA, then they didn't prompt anything - they just did it.

    Let's take one more look at the press release.

    The Ethiopian government presented an agreement for Starbucks to sign in September, recognising the country's rights to the names Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe and stating that additional benefits generated would go to small-scale coffee farmers who are currently living on the brink of survival. However, Starbucks has yet to respond affirmatively.

    "Starbucks works to protect and promote its own name and brand vigorously throughout the world, so how can it justify denying Ethiopia the right to do the same?" asked Phil Bloomer.

    Starbucks claims that to do so would be illegal, as far as I can see from their video. I don't know how that works out - maybe a lawyer can explain. But September? It's probably taken this long for their legal department to figure out what it says, let alone how they feel about it. We're talking about a document that would have legal repercussions in at least two countries, and possibly in every country in which Starbucks does business. I wouldn't sign the fucker either.

    Now let's take a look at some other documents I just googled up...

    http://www.coffee-tea-etc.com/coffee/faq [coffee-tea-etc.com]

    The cost associated with coffee is only 15c/lb, which is less than half a penny per cup of coffee.

    There's about 25 16oz (coffeeshop standard) cups of coffee per roasted pound. Three cents per cup would be $0.75/lb. Starbucks claims they pay over the fair trade price, which is under a buck and a half per pound.

  • Brilliant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bahwi (43111) <incomingNO@SPAMjosephguhlin.com> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @07:01PM (#17436858) Homepage
    That's just awesome. It's just as accessible as the Oxfam, less boring, and more straightforward. You can repost it on MySpace or wherever you need to.

    Aside from that, regional trademarks == bad bad bad. Form Blue Mountain's wikipedia entry:
    "Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is protected worldwide as a certification trademark meaning that only coffee certified by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica can be labeled as such."

    So, say the Ethiopian Board of Coffee doesn't like a farmer, I mean hell, there's a lot of problems in that area, it'd be pretty easy to pick some farmers you don't like, whoever the new gov't is, and put a lot of people out of work.

  • I find it ironic that Starbucks now widely perceived to be in the same big-bad-bin as McDonald's and Coke. It's the first time I've personally witnessed such a transition.

    As usual, it's easy to sympathize with the little guy and easy to attack the big guy. The powerless are innocent, the powerful are guilty.

    Starbucks is attains self preservation by way of selling things. Oxfam and IFAT are attain self preservation by way of finding people to attack and making people feel guilty.

    At least Starbucks is respons
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)
      I find it ironic that Starbucks now widely perceived to be in the same big-bad-bin as McDonald's and Coke. It's the first time I've personally witnessed such a transition.

      Which begs the question, is Coke really in the big-bad-bin? This is the first I've heard of it. I mean, I've heard murmurs about unfair practices but nothing really big.

      It also suggests the question, how much of the proceeds from each cup of McDonalds "coffee" goes to the farmer?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by swordgeek (112599)
        Well unfortunately, Coke really does deserve to be in the bad corner.

        Do some digging on Coke in India (especially Kerala), and find out just how much damage they've done. Fertile ground has been turned into parched earth, groundwater has been contaminated across the country, and there's some question about the incidence of birth defects near the bottling plants. Unfortunately, it's far enough away from the Western World(tm), and also India's special interest groups tend to stray farther from the truth than
  • The trademark and licensing issue isn't about the farmers at all. It's the ethiopian government trying to bilk Starbucks out of some extra money. That money will not go to the farmers, but will fund the ongoing wars. Kinda like blood diamonds....
  • by iambarry (134796) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @07:57PM (#17437460) Homepage
    Strangely, Oxfam and Starbucks had been working together on Fair Trade up until October of 2004 - see : http://www.oxfamamerica.org/newsandpublications/pr ess_releases/archive2002/art3007.html [oxfamamerica.org]

    There's even some allegation that Oxfam stopped working with Starbucks due to political pressure ( see http://society.guardian.co.uk/charitymanagement/st ory/0,,1430638,00.html [guardian.co.uk] )
  • Starbucks lied. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AxelBoldt (1490) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @10:10PM (#17438716) Homepage
    Ethiopia wants to trademark its coffee names. The guy in the video says right at the beginning that signing a licensing agreement recognizing the trademarks "is against the law". There is in fact no law on the books in the U.S. that makes signing such an agreement illegal. You can sign whatever you want.

    Furthermore, the guy conveniently omits that "Starbucks intervened in the USPTO decision by prompting the National Coffee Association of USA, Inc. (NCA), of which it is a leading member, to oppose the approval of the trademarks." (see here) [oxfamamerica.org] Why would Starbucks actively oppose the Ethiopian trademark application if they really wanted to help Ethiopian farmers?

    All the talk about "we want the farmers to succeed, we built schools, we pay over commodity prices", while making up 90% of the video, is bullshit and completely besides the point. They don't care about that charity crap, they want hard and cold trademark agreements.

"Most of us, when all is said and done, like what we like and make up reasons for it afterwards." -- Soren F. Petersen

Working...