Thursday, February 8, 2007

Fair what? The un-education of coffee baristas

So I've been sitting here for hours calling local coffee shops to find out where they get their beans from and I've discovered that the people working in many of these shops need some serious education. This of course (on behalf of a former barista who didn't know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino) is not completely the fault of the barista. The owner should make it a priority to educate the people serving their coffee...this is just simple business protocol--especially if your business is strictly a coffee shop. I don't expect the same knowledge from a server at a cafe that is known more for its breakfast and lunch selections as I do from a barista who strictly prepares and serves coffee and espresso drinks. Here is a snippet of just one of my conversations,


Me: "I was calling to find out where you get your coffee beans from."

Barista: "Um...what do you mean?"

Me: "Who roasts your coffee?"

Barista: "Um, I'm not sure. Let me check on the bag."

Me: "OK...I've never heard of that company. Is the coffee organic or fair trade?"

Barista: "I think it's organic."

Me: "You think?"

Barista: "Well, it says on the bag it organic, so yeah, I think it is."

Me: "OK, how about fair trade?"

Barista: "Um...far trade?"

Me: "No, no...Fair Trade."

Barista: "I'm not sure, but I think it probably is."

Me: "Does it say Fair Trade on the bag?"

Barista: "I don't think so, but it probably is."

The sad part of this whole conversation, was that this was a variation of most of my conversations with the coffee shops that I phoned today.

SO....my revelation after all of these unbelievable phone calls was that if people who are currently working in the coffee industry don't know if the coffee they serve is from a sustainable source, how is the average consumer going to know? I am putting together a list of Sustainable Coffee Shops In San Diego; this is obviously a work in progress and as I learn more I'll add more to the list. Please let me know if there is a coffee shop you want me to do some research on or that should be added to the list. I'm also working on a list of coffee shops that have some organic and/or fair trade options, but these wouldn't be my top choices to purchase from...and if you frequent these places keep requesting that all their coffee be sustainable.

4 comments:

Dana said...

i don't know what any of that means, but good job researching coffee google! :)

Not a Cookie Cutter said...

For some reason this post reminds me of "The Waitress"...dealing with clueless people is often a arduous task, but your end result is worth it!
~GINA

Not James Ahn said...

It's so refreshing to have such an advocate for fair trade coffee. The unfortunate part of frequenting these coffee shops that people are tricked into believing are fair trade are a far cry from it. Keep fightin the good fight for the farmers. Woo hoo!!!

Henry said...

Your passion is contageous. I can't wait til you get your coffee company up and running.