So there was an interesting article in The Guardian today concerning Ethiopia’s attempt to copyright certain styles of coffee that are indigenous and specific to the coffee growers of Ethiopia. Basically if Ethiopia is allowed to copyright three types of coffee they could increase the market value of Ethiopian coffee that is exported from the country by 25% or an extra $88.8 million yearly (I converted the figure into American dollars). This is a giant increase considering Ethiopia is one of the most impoverished countries in the world.
So I and most other people would see this as a very positive thing, a way that a struggling African economy can improve the living conditions of its citizens without any additional international aid or debt relief that is so long as you are not Starbucks.
Starbucks is working hard to ensure that all of these copyright applications are denied. But keep in mind that so far this year Starbucks has enjoyed a 22% rise in annual global turnover, equaling $14.7 billion.
I think Phil Bloomer, Oxfam's policy director, summed up the situation perfectly:
"Starbucks has made some progress towards helping poor farmers in recent years, but their behavior on this occasion is a huge backwards step, and raises serious questions about the depth of their commitment to the welfare of their suppliers. By acting responsibly, they could set an example for others by supporting Ethiopia's plan to help the 15 million struggling Ethiopian farmers who depend on coffee for their survival."
So there you have it, that is why Starbucks is nothing more then one big over caffeinated global bastard.