Sunday, January 08, 2006

Starbucks Challenge 3.5: Harvard Style

One of my goals for this year is to eat and drink more green. We already eat quite a lot of organic and I make sure the meat we eat is free-range or from humane and ethical sources. I brew free trade coffee at home but frankly really hadn't given what I drink at the coffee shop much thought. So, it has been with some interest that I've been following Siel of at GreenLA Girl's quest to get the largest chain of coffee shops in the world, Starbucks, to practice what they preach. That is, if they are going to say they brew fair trade coffee when asked, then by golly, you should be able to get fair trade coffee (if you don't know what Fair Trade coffee is or for that matter want to read more about Siel and the fine effort, go here). I decided that it was only fitting that I take the Starbucks Challenge 3.5: Go into my local branches of Starbucks and ask for a cup of Fair Trade Coffee (Cafe Estima) and see if it offered as it should have been brewing this week as the Coffee of the Week and then report back. Here are my results:

We live a few blocks from Harvard Square and there are 2 Starbucks in Harvard Square: One at 31 Church St. and the other inside The Garage (a funky American version of a shopping arcade). On Thursday and Friday, before dropping MBH off at the T station and heading into work myself, we decided to go into the Church St location. MBH ordered a venti hot chocolate (he isn't a coffee drinker) and I handed over my travel mug and asked to have it filled with Fair Trade Coffee. The barista behind the counter was very chipper for 6:30am and said "Sure, no problem. You want our Estima. It is this shop's house coffee on Mon, Wed and Friday. And, if you want it any other day, just ask. We'll grind it for you to use in a french press." So, rack up Success #1 (or is that two?) for Harvard Square Church St Starbucks.

On Saturday, we typically get up early and head to a local coffee shop, Dammits, but as of late, we have been less than happy there (more on that another time). So, since I was taking part of the Starbucks Challenge, we wandered over the Garage location of Starbucks. After finding two really nice and comfortable chairs, I went up to the counter to order MBH's hot chocolate and present my travel mug for a much needed cup of Fair Trade coffee. Another really nice barista told me that they didn't have it brewing right then BUT if I would wait a few minutes, she would be happy to grind some for me to use in a french press. Success #2. And, when I went up for a refill, she said that they had brewed some so I could just have it "normal". She also told me it Estima was their house coffee on Tuesday and Sunday.

Today, we meant to go to Central Square location but it was snowing so we trudged over to the Garage location again and once again was met with a warm, steaming cup of Estima.

So, the report from Harvard Square: 2 Stores, 2 sucesses. I'm thankful, considering the responses so many from other places have reported that I live in the Ultra Liberal, Ultra Green city of Cambridge, MA...truly our fair city.

P.S. I'll keep checking on these two locations and the other's in Cambridge.