Oldies But GoodiesSmall Farmer's Exchange
SALE! 20 Years of Raising the Bar!
Forging New Partnerships in El Salvador and Nicaragua
Fair Trade: Keeping it Real
Meet the makers of your Mexican beans!
A word on transparency
Democracy on the move in Burma
Pangoa Cooperative update
A real commitment to Women's Empowerment?
United Students, United Cause
Danger: Ethical Consumerism
So Who Can You Trust?
Farewell to Fair Trade Certified?
Johnny Depp, Fair Trade and Me - A Cautionary Tale
What is the Value of Your Values?
Somali Refugees Succeed with Dean's Beans!
Holding the Course in a Turbulent Time
Kenya - Struggling Towards Sustainability
Timor-Leste: Creating Fair, Direct Trade in a Complex Land
Overcoming Gender Violence in Rwanda
Supporting Girls' Empowerment in Guatemala
Speaking Truth to Power
One Love, One Hut (Ethiopia)
Into the Araku Valley (India)
Global Warning: Colombia
News from Guatemala!
Teaching and Learning in Peru
Celebrating Fair Trade in Ethiopia
Tadesse Comes to Town
Student Leaders and Dean's Beans Meet in Nicaragua!
Drink Dean's Beans and Fight Global Warming!
An Update from Papua-New Guinea
From the Highlands of Guatemala
Papua-New Guinea - Back to the Future
The Death Train - Part II (El Salvador)
Tracking the Death Train (Chiapas, Mexico)
My Life as a Pirate-Part II
My New Life as a Pirate
Into Africa-Creating Fair Trade in Kenya
Update and Thank You From the Farmers
An Update on Sumatra
The Situation in Sumatra
Our New Profit Sharing Program - More Cash in the Hands of Farmers
Halliburton Coffee - The Sequel
Halliburton-Support the Troops!
Starbucks-Show Me the Money!
The Real Impact of Fair Trade
Frankenbeans - Here Comes GMO Coffee!
Indigenous Coffee Farmers Self-Help Efforts in Oaxaca, Mexico
Using Coffee to Preserve Rainforests
The Heart of the Pine Ridge Occupation
Who Benefits from Hurricane Relief?
Fighting Big Oil in the Amazon
Ingrid Washinawatok - A Personal Memorial
Did Nazi's Grow your Coffee?
Pesticides Used in Coffee Production
Cooperatives Mean Self-Reliance for Coffee Farmers
Doing Business as an Expression of Progressive Values
Starbucks-Show Me the Money!
This is a little coffee tale about fudging the truth with statistics. Or maybe it's that the largest specialty coffee company in the world simply made a little inadvertent mistake. You be the judge. As people learn more about the long-term crisis in coffee pricing, they are wanting to know what their favorite coffee company is paying its farmers. As a 100% Fair Trade company, our answer is easy - we pay $1.41/lb at a minimum to the farmer cooperatives for all of our coffees. To this we add a Social Equity Premium of five cents and a Cooperative Development Premium of one cent. (For all you liberal arts majors, that means we pay $1.47/lb). At a recent international coffee conference I was listening to Starbucks talking about their pricing policies. They said they pay an average of $1.20/lb for their coffees, which "compares favorably to the Fair Trade minimum of $1.26". Sounds good, doesn't it? But it's apples and oranges (regular and decaf?). Here's why: First of all, Starbucks is not an importer. They buy their coffee through importers, exporters, processors or other middlemen. The $1.20 is the average price they pay to the middleman, not the farmer. When you subtract out all the middleman fees, the figure is more likely about .80 cents, although when I asked the speaker for that figure, he said he didn't actually know it. But it's that $.80 that should be compared to the Fair Trade minimum of $1.26. The $1.20 is also an average of all Starbuck's purchases - conventional and organic; whereas Fair Trade minimums are $1.26 for conventional and $1.41 for organics. Further, if you really wanted an apples to apples comparison of landed costs at this end (which is the Starbucks $1.20), by adding importing and transportation costs, our landed cost would be $1.86. To their credit, the Starbucks representative admitted that their $1.20 figure didn't actually represent what it looked like it represented - how much they actually pay to the farmers. Having said that, I have seen Starbucks advertisements since the conference that still crow that $1.20. Let's keep an eye on those guys and see if they'll ever come clean. If telling the world that they pay the farmers more than they actually pay for coffee was a mistake or a misunderstanding, they should be big enough to just admit it and move on. If it was a marketing move calculated to blunt criticism of its possibly rapacious buying practices and to mislead the public...well, that's another story, isn't it? O.K., Howard and Orin, show me the money!