Wrestling with Starbucks: Conscience, Capital, Cappuccino

By Kim Fellner | Go to book overview

8
At the Global
Crossroads

Tadesse Meskela, general manager of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia, an organization of 115 cooperatives representing more than 102,000 coffee growers, apparently had mixed feelings about Starbucks. In an interview transcript from a June 2006 Starbucks meeting on African coffees, he spoke warmly about the company’s role in advancing the well-being of Ethiopian coffee farmers: “This year we sold more coffee to Starbucks and they paid us a very good price, which is better than Fair Trade price. So we want this type of pricing for our coffees to improve the lives of coffee growers.”

Yet there he was in Black Gold, a documentary released that year to wide acclaim. Filmed between 2003 and 2005, it followed Tadesse’s valiant struggle to increase the income that Ethiopian coffee farmers realize from their crops. It also featured Starbucks as villain, implying that the company made its millions off the backs of poor farmers.

For a while, Dub Hay, Starbucks’ senior vice president for coffee purchasing, wondered if Tadesse had been unaware that the film was going to portray Starbucks as a bad guy. After all, the company had been involved with Ethiopia for more than thirty years, even before the arrival of Howard Schultz, and had been buying coffee from the Oromia Farmers Union since 2003. But Dub hoped in vain. Tadesse was in fact a man on a mission; and in the fall of 2006, he emerged as

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Wrestling with Starbucks: Conscience, Capital, Cappuccino
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction - The Global Economy Comes Home 1
  • 1 - The Empire Strikes Gold 15
  • 2 - Running the 10-K 27
  • 3 - Banking on the Bean 47
  • 4 - Go Sell It on the Mountain 69
  • 5 - Moving Up on Eighth Street 105
  • 6 - The Cross­dressing of Coffee-Counter Culture 123
  • 7 - When Worker Met Partner 140
  • 8 - At the Global Crossroads 163
  • 9 - The View from Headquarters 186
  • 10 - Capitalism Is like Fire … 203
  • 11 - Goodness as Battleground 220
  • 12 - Bread. Roses. Coffee 236
  • Acknowledgments 245
  • Notes 249
  • Index 267
  • About the Author 285
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