Thursday, March 01, 2007

Starbucks Hates Africans!

Okay, that's not really true. I just like typing scandalous headlines. But it is true that Starbucks make millions, perhaps billions, exploiting coffee growers across our fair blue-green planet, and must be stopped at all costs, up to, and including, dumping coffee from the cup into the trash because even when you ask for "room for cream" they still give you way too much coffee and not enough room for cream. Oh yeah, I'm a damn-hell-ass rebel.

But seriously, if we can, Starbucks is making truckloads of money off of Ethiopian beans, using the nation of Ethiopia as a selling point, and Ethiopia, naturally, wants a piece of the action. Starbucks would probably acquiesce, were Ethiopia not asking for such a huge chunk of said action. Country vs. Company! Oh yeah!

To be fair, Starbucks is a huge buyer of Fair Trade coffee, and that's dandy. But Fair Trade growers are still at the mercy of the buyer. They don't demand a price. They get the "fair" value only if they can find someone nice enough to buy it. Were Ethiopian farmers (or more accurately, the nation) allowed to trademark coffee exports that specifically come from their nation, they could set the price for buyers to use their trademarked beans.

Of course, Starbucks' lawyers don't see it that way. And that's what this'll come down to. The lawyers of the Starbucktopia vs. Ethiopia, which placed 170th out of 177 countries in a recent UN ranking of human development. That doesn't necessarily mean Ethiopians can't afford a good lawyer for themselves, it just means that their farmers need a leg up in the market. Fair Trade? That's nice. But owning the name of the coffee you sweat and toil over? That's fair.

p.s. FYI, those are coffee cherries above, what the coffee bean looks like before being dried and roasted. You learn something new every day! Go tell your friends! Start a revolution!

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