The Starbucks Challenge

November 09, 2005 // Tagged in: Random Wisdom

A while back, Green LA Girl, a Californian blogger, started the Starbucks Challenge. It was about Starbucks and a promise they had made in their official policy [PDF], namely that, when asked, they’d make fair trade coffee for anyone on any day of the week in all the 23 countries they are licensed to (Austria as well). The first round of the Starbucks Challenge was quite a success, and somehow I missed the deadline. Well, the challenge is back, aptly titled Starbucks Challenge 2.0. And today I made sure I’m part of it.

The chosen Starbucks is in the Währingerstraße here in Vienna, the nearest one to the main university building and really right next to what we call the Campus. It was between lectures, and I thought it to be a good time to finally be a part of the challenge. So I went in there and ordered a cup of fair trade coffee. Well, hilarity ensued. The barista had quite obviously never even heard of fair trade coffee before, and tried to convince me that what I actually wanted was their Coffee of the Week or that I was interested in buying a pound of their coffee. When I insisted that I’d like a cup of fair trade coffee, not their coffee of the week nor a pound of their coffee, the barista called on another barista, one who looked like he’d already poured his fair share of coffee. I got my hopes up high again.Too early though. When he heard of my request he put on a confused look and inquired if I meant “that South American coffee”. I once again tried to convey what I actually meant, mentioning the above linked corporate policy, which elicited a rather lengthy explanation of what that meant, including talk about how things are done in America and how they are done here. It was successful in that I was now convinced that neither of them had ever heard of the term fair trade before, let alone laid eyes on a cup of fair trade coffee brewed in their Starbucks store.
So, I gave up. Educating baristas in Austrian Starbucks stores is apparently not a priority with the corporation.