“Coffee, which makes the politicians wise, and see through all things with his half-shut eyes.”
– Alexander Pope
“Over second and third cups [of coffee] flow matters of high finance, high state, common gossip and low comedy. [Coffee] is a social binder, a warmer of tongues, a soberer of minds, a stimulant of wit, a foiler of sleep if you want it so.”
– Author Unknown
Drinking coffee together has a centuries-long history of spurning deep levels of conversation, encouraging vulnerability and truthful exchanges among friends, colleagues and family, stimulating visionary ideas and even revolutionary upheavals that flip the status quo upside down.
The ideas that turned into the American Revolution were birthed while leaders of the day sipped coffee and discussed their displeasure with government.
Coffee, to this day, can bring people together in an incredible way. It boosts productivity and stimulates the mind in the workplace, helping teams dream bigger, achieve more, execute vision, and even create a social atmosphere where people gather around the coffeemaker and chat, replacing the “water cooler conversations”. It’s become a social norm to take meetings off-site and go to coffee shops and focus in on projects with your team. Grabbing a cup of coffee is also a more casual, less expensive option for friends to meet up and chat, or for those on the dating scene to meet for the first time.
But have you dipped your toe into the political waters surrounding the warm, caffeinated drink? Believe it or not, there is much more brewing under the surface; you just have to take a closer look.
The huge Starbucks versus Dunkin’ Donuts debate is nothing new now, and overall, statistics show that the left prefers Starbucks, while the right favors Dunkin’ Donuts, according to a 2012 study. (Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/14/democrats-republicans-dis_n_1596310.html)
You may be the exception to this study, as there are some Republicans who favor Starbucks for their coffee fix, but let’s dive a little deeper into this political realm surrounding coffee.
In 2011, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz began a campaign called “Indivisible,” selling coffee blends and mugs to go toward encouraging job creation in America, all funding going toward Create Jobs for USA. He urged Republicans and Democrats alike to set aside partisanship to address the most challenging issues in America together. Honorable, right? Schultz probably should have stopped while he was ahead. In January 2012, Starbucks showed positive perception from both Red and Blue America on the Brand Index, but then they released a statement in response to the hot-button issue of gay marriage, saying, “Proud to join other leading Northwest employers in support of Washington state legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples.” (Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/brandindex/2012/07/12/coffee-drinking-democrats-and-conservatives-party-lines-differ-over-starbucks/)
This was no surprise, as Starbucks’ home is the uber-liberal Seattle, Washington. After this statement was released, the Republicans’ perception dropped drastically, the Democrats’ spiked, and the right-wing National Organization for Marriage even launched a “Dump Starbucks” campaign, encouraging consumers to find other coffee options that didn’t support gay marriage.
Now, let’s consider another hot-button topic that rightfully needs to be addressed: fair trade sourcing. Again looking at the ongoing battle between Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, DD began utilizing fair trade beans for their coffee in 2004 and now 100% of their espresso beans are Fair Trade Certified. (Source: http://www.dunkindonuts.com/DDBlog/2011/10/what_you_might_notk.html#sthash.CLHXI7Vp.dpbs)
Starbucks, however, claims that 100% of their beans are “ethically sourced,” but only 8.5% of their current beans are Fair Trade Certified. Beyond that, Starbucks’ coffees are self-certified, meaning they don’t have to pass any outside reviews or standards, only their own in-house criteria, which usually doesn't bode well for the coffee farmers who grow and harvest the beans that support Starbucks lovers’ daily cups of joe. (Source: http://www.binghamtonhomepage.com/news/a-starbucks-boycott-percolates-over-fair-trade-and-organic-ingredients)
There’s actually a boycott that has been bubbling up since mid-2014, with GMO Inside and The Organic Consumers Association leading the way. Starbucks is incredibly profitable, but it isn't passing along the profitability back to the farmers. Many smaller coffee shops have been serving Fair Trade Certified and Organic Certified beans for years, alongside healthier milk and sweetener options.
We bet you didn’t know politics played such a role in your coffee, huh? This is all the more reason to make sure that while you’re gathering with friends for a cup of coffee, or huddling around the boardroom table for a meeting, know where your coffee is from and to know that the farmers who support your wonderful coffee habit are being compensated fairly and treated well in the process.
That’s why we are so proud of our brand here at Republican Coffee. Our coffee is both Certified Fair Trade and Organic, ethically sourced, hand-roasted, and delivered fresh upon roasting from our roastery in Middle Tennessee.
We hope you’ll give The Right Coffee a try, and create a new common ground in coffee for us all!