Well, I finally did it. I took the Starbucks Challenge here in Vancouver.
In case you missed it, Green LA Girl and Cityhippy have been running a fascinating experiment. See, Starbucks has a policy of providing a cup of Fair Trade coffee to anyone who asks. It's a new policy, and, as I said before, one that might actually improve my opinion of Starbucks.
Starbucks has started bringing in Cafe Estima blend coffee - It's Fair Trade certified. The official policy is that if you ask for Fair Trade coffee, they will make you a cup even if it's not the coffee of the month.
I was on my way to see four great bands play (blog to follow soon...) and walked by the Starbucks at the corner of Granville and Smithe. Aha! A chance to take the challenge! I walked in and asked for a tall, black, Fair Trade coffee.
The barista told me it wasn't brewing. They had some other blend already made. I told her that I thought Starbucks now sold Fair Trade coffee too. She conferred with another barista then started looking through the rack of bagged beans.
When she returned with a bag of Cafe Estima, she asked me if I wanted to buy the Fair Trade beans.
"No," I told her, "I just want a cup of Fair Trade coffee. Couldn't you French press me a cup?" After another quick conference she came back and rang up something that cost over four dollars. When I asked her if that was for my one cup of coffee, she then told me that I had to pay for a full pot of French press coffee.
I told her no, thanks, and hurried off to the show with less caffeine in my system than I might have liked.
Result: Fail. I felt bad for breaking the rules of the challenge by suggesting she French press me a cup, but I guess I wanted a coffee. If one shop in hippy-paradise, coffee-loving, greener-than-green Vancouver can't follow policy, I have serious doubts about the rest of the continent. Now I have to try it again.
Good luck to all of you taking the challenge yourselves!