The Costa Foundation claims to be working hard to improve the lives of many in their coffee growing communities.
The best way to do so is to pay a fair price for coffee!
What actually are they doing, where do the funds go, who provides the money?
What better place to ask than a Costa Coffee shop. And that is what I did.
In front of the counter was a collecting plate (not exactly secure) and junk trinkets to buy.
I asked, where does the money go?
The girl did not know, suggested I asked someone else, but made the point she did not pocket the money.
What I wanted to know was, who was making the contributions, as it seemed to be the customers, with Costa claiming the credit.
I asked another member of staff, if I put a fiver in this collection will Costa match it?
She did not think so.
Ok, do Costa pay a fair price for coffee from these producer countries as that is the best way to help the local communities?
Again did not know, but did not think so, helpfully adding Costa did serve Fair Trade coffee.
Ok, where does your milk come from?
This she did know, we buy it locally.
This surprised me as Costa are not known for buying locally.
I asked did she know where the milk came from?
Yes, she did, and went off to get a carton of milk to show me.
It came from Freshways (this I knew already). Freshways is one of the milk companies targeted by farmers for failing to pay a fair price for milk. Freshways buy milk on the spot market. Freshways have been buying milk in from Belgium to keep the price paid to farmers artificially low.
If Costa do not support farmers in England, why should we believe they are helping coffee growers abroad?
The Costa Foundation appears to be greewwash, all Costa is doing is handing over money donated by customers with Costa claiming the credit.
The attitude of the staff in the Coffee shop was we only work here.
If Costa Foundation was an important part of Costa the staff would know about it.
Contrast with Lush, who do support good causes, who will match pound for pound, where the staff can tell you all about what they are supporting.
Last year I was at a fund raising party for a film. Lush were matching pound for pound the money raised.
On the Costa Coffee website it lists various success stories, but no figures are provided, and asks would you like to donate but no link to enable you to donate.
But why should we donate? Should the donation not be coming from Costa, or at the very least matched funding?
The best way to help coffee growers, is to support independent coffee shops who only serve Fair Trade tea and coffee, and suggest to them that maybe with the support of the countries, they could support a project in a coffee growing country. If they have the facilities, ask them to show the film Black Gold.
For a $3 cup of a coffee, a farmer earns three cents.
I saw Black Gold premièred at an international film festival and met the directors. What makes it so powerful, apart from the stunning cinematography, is the stark contrast between coffee shops like Starbucks and Costa and the price being paid for a cup of coffee and the harsh working conditions of the farmers and the price paid for a kilo of coffee beans.
If farmers were paid a fair price for their coffee, they would be able to afford to send their children to school.
If farmers were paid a fair price they would not be dependent on the ‘generosity’ of Costa in doling out money donated by their customers.
Costa, with your help, hope to raise £750,000. No information on what has actually been raised. But why do Costa not simply hand over £750,000 if they are so keen to make a difference, or better still simply pay a fairer price for coffee?
To put this figure in context, Veg, aka nine-year-old Martha Payne, has raised through her food blog NeverSeconds, over £113,000 for a school kitchen in Malawi, and is now heading out to Malawi to open the kitchen, to be known as Friends of NeverSeconds.
Top Story in Fair Trade Daily (Thursday 23 August 2012).