Sunday, May 07, 2006

Starbucks Challenge 4: College Green Dublin

Anyone who has been following my blog for a while (and indeed it is a while, but more about that later in the week) will know that I have previously taken part in the Starbucks Challenge. I realize some people don't like reading about the challenge, so I'll warn you now that you can skip this post :-)

A fourth round of the challenge has started and I thought I'd join in again. The idea of the challenge is to check how well Starbucks live up to their promise to provide Fair Trade coffee.

The Challenge
1) Visit your local Starbucks this month and ask: “Could I get a cup of fair trade coffee?”
2) Tell us what happened next. Ideally, the barista should immediately offer you a French-pressed cup of Cafe Estima — Starbucks’ only fair trade certified blend.
3) If your barista gives you a blank look, and you’re feeling courageous, try asking specifically for a French-press of the Cafe Estima blend. If the barista says it’ll cost you extra, say that HQ told you that you should be able to pay just for the size you asked for. And as always, be nice to the baristas :)

Well over the weekend I visited the two Starbucks in Dublin that I had previously written about for the challenge and I also visited the newer one on Harcourt Street. The one alteration I made to the challenge is that I don't assume I can get Cafe Estima French-pressed by default, it's usually on brew in the stores.

First of all I visited Starbucks on College Green. This is the flagship Starbucks in Dublin and is by far the biggest and nicest looking of the three shops, however it is a little busy so I rarely drink coffee there as I rarely get a seat where I can sit in peace and read a paper with my coffee. The shop is just too popular. On a previous visit it had passed the challenge and anytime I had visited since Fair Trade coffee was available.

This time I asked for a tall fair trade coffee and the barista knew exactly what I was talking about. He went to the Cafe Estima that was brewing and I got my cup of fair trade coffee, no waiting at the counter so that makes it handy if your in a rush.

As I walked away I decided it had been a little too easy so I thought I'd go back and ask a couple of questions. I ended up talking to a different barista to the one who had first served me and her English was not as good. I asked her if they do French press, yes they do but it would take a little longer than a normal cup. Next, out of curiosity, I asked if they sell much fair trade coffee. Initially the girl said all their coffee was fair trade but I queried this saying as far as I knew only Cafe Estima was certified fair trade. She got a little confused and went to ask her supervisor. When she came back she said that they do sell a good bit of fair trade but didn't give me any figures and that all their coffee was ethically traded. I thought that was a pretty good response so I finished it there.

I think that means Starbucks College Green did fairly well in the challenge. I'll post later about the other two stores, where the responses were not quite what I had expected.

[Update: I should also say, Timor Lorosae is also certified Fair Trade and is available in Dublin stores from time to time]

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