Is Starbucks’ Coffee Fair Trade?

Recently I told a friend that I haven’t been going to Starbucks as often as I used to because I had decided to buy fair trade tea and coffee and make it at home.  I knew it would cost me more, so I decided to forego the occasional special drink at Starbucks and instead, spend the money on fair trade products.

My friend works at a Starbucks and insisted that Starbucks was not only fair trade, but that they owned their own farms and treated their workers even better than the fair trade standards demand.

What’s the truth?

After a bit of research, it’s hard to know.  Starbucks defends itself well: Global Report on Ethical Sourcing.  I’m really glad that they have taken steps in the right direction.


  • Only the Italian Roast has a fair trade label on it
  • Tazo Tea is part of the “Ethical Tea Partnership” but is NOT certified fair trade (or organic)
  • Starbucks’ cocoa and vanilla are not fair trade certified

This blog talks about the one roast that is fair trade and that you can ask a barista to make you a fair-trade cup of coffee.

This article, from 2010, talks about someone who got to hear first-hand about some of the farms that Starbucks uses.

Sign this petition from that asks for a brewed fair trade choice in Starbucks in the U.S.


The choice for me is easy: I am saving money by buying fair-trade teas and coffees and making them in my house.  I buy the flavors that I love the most (Earl Grey and a good Chai) and I feel good about the companies I am supporting.  If I happen to meet someone for a drink at Starbucks, I know that I can get a cup of the Italian Roast or stick with an herbal tea.

What about you?  How has learning about “fair trade” affected the products you buy?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s