In fall of 2018, Starbucks’ coffee was found to have connections to forced labor plantations where workers were subject to debt bondage and unsafe working conditions. This was 8 months after they were named one of the World’s Most Ethical companies for the 12th year in a row.

Starbucks has a Slave Labor Problem

Once again, Brazilian labor inspectors have found slave labor1 on plantations where Starbucks buys coffee. And not just any plantations, but ones that have been “certified” to Starbucks’ C.A.F.E. Practices standards. This marks the second time in nine months that this has happened, pointing to a huge systemic problem with the way Starbucks is meeting their commitment to “99% ethical coffee.” It’s time for that to change.

Starbucks Coffee on the “Dirty List”

How do we even know that this is happening? The Brazilian government has taken steps to address forced labor throughout their farming and manufacturing sectors. One of those steps is publishing an annual “Dirty List” of those found in violation of Brazilian law and what they have… Continue Reading (6 minute read)

9 thoughts on “In fall of 2018, Starbucks’ coffee was found to have connections to forced labor plantations where workers were subject to debt bondage and unsafe working conditions. This was 8 months after they were named one of the World’s Most Ethical companies for the 12th year in a row.”

  1. highoncraze

    Workers reported that work conditions included:

    – dead bats and mice in worker’s food
    – no sanitation systems
    – 6AM to 11PM work days
    – rigged payment system that would disappear coffee that was picked before it was tallied

    The plantation had the CAFE Practices certification, but inspections can occur as infrequently as every 2-3 years.

  2. tehmlem

    I mean, not to give Starbucks credit but the word “most” there does a lot of work. Depending on prevailing conditions, someone objectively awful could win without any shadyness.

  3. Guluronate

    Not criticizing OP for this at all, but I find it funny how we’ve taken to euphemisms like “forced labor” and “debt bondage”. A step up from Marvel’s “prisoners with jobs” line, but not much

  4. spkter

    I love using my apple device to post about the horrors and injustice of modern slave labor.

  5. idontevenwant2

    I wonder how Starbucks goes about verifying it’s suppliers are ethical? If they are just asking suppliers to sign something that says “No slave labor here!” Obviously they should get no credit. But if they investigate and things later go down hill, how can we blame starbucks? I’ll congratulate them on the extent of their efforts, whatever those are.

  6. AcidWashAvenger

    Riiiight around the time they sold Nestlé worldwide distribution rights for their packaged coffee!

  7. outhousemilkshake

    Unpopular opinion: I like Starbucks coffee. When people say, “I don’t like Starbucks coffee,” I’m like, “which one?” The drip coffee (Pike Place or a random dark roast) or the espresso?

    As for drip coffee, I find Starbucks way more fresh, smooth, and consistent than the sickly dark sap that’s often served at independent cafes, although I generally avoid Starbucks dark roast drip unless it’s a specific one I already know I enjoy.

    I don’t think Starbucks espresso drinks are anything special or worth paying for, although I’ll take an automatic Americano over a poorly tamped traditional one. However for drip coffee it’s where I go. If someone wants to go to Tim Hortons for a double double or triple triple and have some coffee soup, then it’s pretty clear that they…don’t *really* like coffee anyway.

  8. imyourzer0

    Plot twist: still legitimately one of the World’s Most Ethical companies 2 years later.

  9. somekindairishmonk

    Yes but what did they say or do about it? This article is from June 2019. It doesn’t say anything about a response and I can’t find one on a search for the basic premise.

    If nothing, then nothing. If something, then what?

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