I don’t know about you, but I love coffee. My obsession with Dunkin Donuts is almost unheard of, and I’m pretty sure that I alone increased their stock price last winter break. But not all coffee shops are alike. Chances are by now every student at Bucknell has read or heard about the style in which Starbuck’s operates. Compared to many of the companies that we have been investigating throughout this semester, they certainly manage their supply chain differently and provide their suppliers with better protection, and higher prices for their goods. Starbucks was founded in the early 70’s and can now boast almost 20,000 total shops in more than 50 countries. Because of their focus on the quality of their beans, they are able to charge customers higher prices for their product. To some people this can be a turn off, myself included. Why go to Starbucks and spend twice as much for a Grande (Why can’t you just call it a large?) when I could drive down the street to Dunkin? I don’t consider myself a coffee expert, or someone who enjoys an extra bold blend. I suppose I’m a very “vanilla” coffee drinker.
However, I discovered a whole new appreciation for Starbucks last year. Starbucks has been dedicated to only buying Trade Certified coffee, and in 2001, Starbucks introduced new coffee sourcing guidelines in partnership with the Center for Environmental Leadership in Business. These guidelines also provided financial incentives to suppliers who met strict environmental, social, economic, and quality standards. Starbucks didn’t stop there. Part of their mission statement declared that they would “contribute positively to our communities and our environment,” which included efforts in the arena of social and environmental issues in the areas where Starbuck’s coffee was being produced. These efforts include, but are not limited to, the construction of schools, health clinics and other facilities that would improve the well being of all families involved in coffee cultivation.
Starbuck’s partnership with C.A.R.E., a non-profit international development organization began in 1991. Since the partnership began, they have donated or helped to raise more than $1.8 million for, and help more than 2.5 million people across Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. As a result of all of Starbuck’s efforts in the Fair Trade market as well as the intense scrutiny of their supply chain, they have helped to triple the demand for Fair Trade Certified coffee. If any of this is new to you, or even if you just feel like a casual read, check out the Corporate Social Responsibility Annual Report I linked here.