Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending October 16th

An espresso cup sits atop a magazine on a table, seen from above. Via PxHere

An espresso cup sits atop a magazine on a table, seen from above. Via PxHere

Welcome to another edition of the Coffee News Roundup. All the news that’s fit to print, so long as that news is about coffee. And it won’t be printed, obviously. You get the idea.

Let’s take a look at what’s been going on this week, shall we.

Colectivo Coffee Workers Move to Unionize As Company Cancels Chicago Bakery - via Eater Chicago

This news roundup reported on the unionization moves of workers at Colectivo Coffee a few weeks ago, but things have really moved on fast since then.

Back in August, citing concerns about workplace safety in the midst of a raging pandemic, workers at the local Milwaukee specialty chain partnered with the the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to explore their collectivizing options.

Now, Colectivo is closing stores (temporarily, blaming the pandemic), downsizing (including firing workers involved in unionization), sending anti-union letters to staff, and hiring a “union avoidance” consultancy.

This great article in Urban Milwaukee details Colectivo’s union busting moves, including the hiring of Labor Relations Institute (LRI), an Oklahoma-based consultancy that specializes in “maintaining the union-free workplace.” Right.

Among its services, which it charges upwards of $3,000 per day for, LRI sells No Vote buttons, strike calculators that “communicate the often complex idea of how much money a strike could cost an employee and his or her family,” and provides opposition research. Against a bunch of concerned service industry workers—seems like a fair fight.

Meanwhile, Colectivo has been shortlisted as one of three finalists for Roast Magazine’s Macro Roaster of the Year award, the blurb for which describes the company as believing in “providing everyone with a remarkable experience, and that guides the way we support our co-workers. We provide a professional and safe work environment.” (Update: they didn’t win.)

In a letter to unionizing workers from Colectivo ownership, the company claimed that, if they voted for a union, the “fun, camaraderie, and flexibility in our jobs — yours, ours, everyone that we work with — would be replaced by contracts and boundary lines.”

Oh no.

Read the full story in Eater here.

Although it doesn’t specify exactly how pay will be affected, Starbucks has announced plans to tie executive remuneration to diversity targets next year.

The company is aiming for 30% Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) employees at the corporate level by 2025, and 40% across retail and manufacturing. Currently, the number of BIPOC employees at the level of senior vice president or above stands at 18.5%, according to CNN.

Starbucks also announced the launch of a mentorship program, “connecting employees of color with senior leadership and including anti-bias materials into hiring, development and performance assessment processes, among other things.”

This comes after several years of scandals regarding the company’s relationship with its minority employees and customers, including accusations of pay discrimination at a Starbucks airport subcontractor and the arrest of two African-American men for existing in a Philadelphia Starbucks in 2018.

Read the full story here and then read the story linked below about diversity and equity in Bay Area specialty coffee.

Coffee cherries on a branch

Coffee cherries on a branch

More Headlines

These East Bay Coffee Businesses Say Equity And Diversity Shouldn’t Be An Afterthought

Americans Still Drinking 3 Cups Per Day, But More at Home, NCA Report Shows

Final Candidates Have Been Announced For The 2020 SCA Board

The Week In Coffee Unionizing

Colectivo up there basically covered this, I think.

The Week In Corporate Coffeewashing

A quick little story this week which concerns Bellwether Coffee, maker of those ventless in-cafe coffee roasters, launching a “tip the farmer” program. Basically, it adds a 5 cent “surcharge” to each drink at a cafe’s point-of-sale, which Bellwether then collects and “distributes it in full to the farmers it buys coffee from.”

Which, as always, great. Good for them, I guess. But tipping in general is bad, and ingraining the concept further into the coffee industry is also bad. Why not simply pay more for the coffee in the first place? Oh yeah, because then it’s just paying for goods and not marketable.

Is Coffee Good For You?

Nothing to report this week. I’m going to take that as good news.

What I’m Drinking This Week

One of my favorite roaster discoveries of the past few months has been Circadian Coffee in Indianapolis. Apart from being relatively local, I especially appreciate the focus on blends—blends roasted for pour over, blends not roasted too dark.

Although I’m currently working through their Nicaragua Finca Los Papales, a single origin, next up is the Solstice Blend, which I’m excited about.

A person sits on the floor reading a book. via Unsplash

A person sits on the floor reading a book. via Unsplash

What To Read

Raíces: The Erasure Of Afro-Latinos In Coffee by David J. Dávila

These Sisters Opened A Coffee Shop In The Bay Area Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic by Dana Givens

Open Call For Halloween Fiction Submissions by Sprudge

Until next week, drink good coffee.

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