Starbucks: Love It or Hate It

Over a week ago, while studying for exams, and actively seeking distractions, I stumbled across an “I hate Starbucks” website, appropriately titled www.ihatestarbucks.com .

Now as a “regular” Starbucks customer and total admirer, I was shocked and appalled at this global display of hatred toward what I consider to be one of my favorite places…anywhere! I mean, I knew not all people were exactly thrilled with the S-Bucks enterprise, but there are many who often object to such large corporations, which are seen as being exploiters of capitalist societies, thiev es of local industries and devastators of local customs.   

As a vocal left-winger, I have to say that I do fully and actively object to a lot of the symptoms of capitalism, such as unfair labour practices, child labour, and, to a degree, loss of local identities. But Starbucks has never appeared to be such an establishment. To my knowledge they sold fair-trade coffee, and they provided their direct employees with comfortable and safe work environments and benefits. In terms of loss of local cultural identities, I find corporations such a Starbucks, and similar transnational corporations to be an exciting foresight into a future where countries and parts of the world have increased things in common, things that bring us closer together while allowing us to enjoy the things that make us unique. To me Starbucks and Coke do that. I like that international/multi-culture charm that comes with global familiarity associated with simple products such as these.

So when I saw this site I was rather surprised! Naturally I left a post in the guest book; the most humiliating post, I must admit; I believe it read: i love starbucks! this is very upsetting! starbucks rox! love their coffee and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies! ur being silly!…Then I read more of the other posts and information from the webmaster. Needless to say I retracted my comments, in the least for the manner in which they were stated.

After reading what was posted on the site and then researching articles and other sources which supported that information (yes, not much studying took place that day), I came to learn that although Starbucks does in fact sell fair-trade coffee, the coffee they serve is not fair-trade! In fact it is made from one of the world’s worst places for the manufacturing (collection and processing) of coffee beans! In addition, it was found that it is common practice for Starbucks employees to be hired just 15 minutes less than the work time required for an employee to receive certain benefits. In terms of Starbucks and cultural devastation, that seems to be a running trend, and not merely in foreign countries but here as well in regards to destroying small business, a complaint frequently made against large corporations, such as Wal-Mart and Starbucks. 

Now, this got me to thinking: how can a place I love so much cause so much damage to the global community?  Not exactly a thought that would arise in the mind of Plato, but it certainly perplexed me. How is it that an establishment so widely respected and adored can wreak such havoc, and how can we stop it?

I love Starbucks. I even try to recreate it at home, my faux Starbucks, by dimming the lights, playing some jazz music and making some Maxwell House coffee, which tastes very much the same. (*hint*hint* this is a very conducive environment for reading a good book or studying). I also have a little pocketbook on how to properly order at Starbucks and what is in each drink! Yes, I am S obsessed!

I have also faced this issue with other companies which I love, such as Wal-Mart. How can you not shop at Wal-Mart?! But what about the child labour? Now this may not be deep or philosophical but it’s an honest question: how do you stop supporting places like this? If I stop drinking Starbucks, I will drink Tim Horton’s, and I am not exactly confident that their coffee is of the fair-trade sort! And so what if I object to the mistreatment of worker’s in other countries (which I DO!!), is it not better for them to have A job, than NO job?

Now, ideally if we objected to unfair labour practices in every industry and economic sector we can eventually drive manufacturers to using fair-labour practices, but let’s be realistic, is that possible? Will it ever  be possible? I would love to think so, and I will not stop doing my part, (I PROMISE!) but it seems as though the world is becoming more and more selfish and countries are getting poorer and more desperate. Is it possible?

I want to help! I really do! But Starbucks increased their profits by 30% last year and just started a film production company (Akeela and the Bee is their first film), so clearly they show no signs of losing popularity, nor does it seems as though they will adhere to any public outcries for economic justice. So what do we do? When does advocating for fair-labour start and economic injustice end?

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~ by amytalk on July 4, 2006.

13 Responses to “Starbucks: Love It or Hate It”

  1. Your greatest power is as a consumer. Make an effort to be aware of the practices of big companies and sacrifice some of your conveniences for a more just world.
    Just because a third world person does not have a job doesnt mean they shoud take and be grateful for a low paying job where the products they make are exported and sold for MANY MANY times more than what it cost to produce them. Why do you hold such an allegiance to this business entity? think about it…

    You’re already part of the way there; making your own drinks at home. And you dont have to buy S-b’s coffee to make at home. Get aware of the other resources around you (Cooperative grocers, natural foods markets) and buy products that are also fair trade but support a LOCAL roaster or importer. Chances are they hold more fairly rounded relationship with the rest of the world.

    S-B’s want you to love them. They want you to say they rock. they want you to think they have a unique, personalized feel, made just for you; and that they care about YOU. This is just like so many other companies that want your money and you honor. Really, they dont care about you. Just your money. If it was popular to drink coffee made by hamsters, they would market that and pledge their support for a more Hamster-fied world united. See what I’m saying? they do whatever sells. When/If Fair trade becomes unpopular or doesnt sell as well, they will flip faster than a spring-loaded pancake.

    Its just good to hear someone being so thorough and public with their thought processes. If more people were like you, we’d be able to share more ideas.

    http://www.starbucksunion.org/node/712

    thats a website for Union workers of starbucks and some of the crap they’ve had to go through.

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  13. At first ;;
    I really liked Starbucks ,
    Until I found out they give the money to the ” Jews ” .
    & What do the jews do with that money ?
    They ruin Palestine ,
    My home country , Listen Jew’s ;; You seriously need to get out of Palestine , Just because we are Muslim ,
    You guys don’t need to do this to us 😦
    Wallah , We all feelings , ;; All Human Beings have feelings ,
    If you Jews don’t want to be offended ,
    Please get out of my home land , I’m sick of looking at the T.V & seeing my home country getting ruined , By a whole bunch of cowards , Who stole their land .
    What bugs me is that they watch T.V , Why doesn’t anybody help us !?
    Please please we need help , My home country needs help ,
    So please , I hope when you read this comment ,
    I hope you do something about it ..
    I’m sick of watching T.V & seeing my young people dying 😦
    PLEASE HELP US

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