Monday, May 08, 2006

Starbucks Challenge 4: Harcourt Street, Dublin

Time for my second of three Starbucks Challenges. This one was in the Starbucks on Harcourt Street.

The Harcourt Street Starbucks is south of St Stephens Green, beside the Harcourt Luas stop and is surrounded by office buildings instead of shops. This means that at the weekend you can get a cup of coffee and sit down for more than 5 minutes without someone standing over you waiting for you to finish so they can have your seat. Unfortunately for me it is a little too far away from the shops and restaurants I tend to visit in town so I've only been there once before.

I went in there on my way home, a few hours after visiting the College Green store. When I walked in one unusually friendly barista behind the counter greeted me. I asked my standard opening question, can I have a cup of Fair Trade Coffee. The barista said of course, told me they had Cafe Estima on brew and poured me a cup. Next I asked if they do French Press. Answer, yes, but it would take a few minutes. Finally I thought I'd ask if they have much demand for Fair Trade coffee. Bingo, that was his cue. There followed a 5 minute discussion, where he did most of the talking about Fair Trade, ethically sourced coffee, the prices paid to coffee growers by Starbucks and the long term contracts they make with the growers. He even called me back to the counter after being interrupted by another customer.

I quickly grew suspicious that I wasn't actually talking to your run of the mill barista and as it turns out I was talking to the store manager, Donal I think he said his name was. By the time I left the store I was pretty much ethical coffeed out, but in fairness to the man he did show a keen interest in the whole idea and while he was towing the corporate line at least he knew what that line was and he knew why it is important to buy fair\ethical trade coffee. Perhaps Starbucks should consider promoting the chap, the store in Dundrum could certainly do with a visit from him, but that's tomorrows post...

So with the proviso that I was talking to the store manager and not a barista I have to say Starbucks Harcourt Street did quite well in the challenge.

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