Wrestling with Starbucks: Conscience, Capital, Cappuccino

You can find a Starbucks coffeehouse almost anywhere, from Paris, France to Paducah, Kentucky, from the crowded streets of Thailand to shopping malls in Qatar. With nearly 200 of them in New York City alone, this coffee retail giant with humble beginnings has become an actor and icon in the global economy. As we sip our cappuccinos, frappuccinos, and our double half-caf venti low-fat mochaccinos, many of us wonder if Starbucks is a haven of civilization or a cultural predator, a good or bad employer, a fair trader or a global menace. In this entertaining and provocative ramble through Starbucks's ethos and actions, Kim Fellner asks how a coffeehouse chain with a liberal reputation came to symbolize, for some, the ills of globalization.     Armed with an open mind and a sense of humor, Fellner takes readers on an expedition into the muscle and soul of the coffee company. She finds a corporation filled with contradictions: between employee-friendly processes and anti-union practices; between an internationalist vision and a longing for global dominance; between community individuality and cultural hegemony. On a daily basis Starbucks walks a fine line. It must be profitable enough to please Wall Street and principled enough to please social justice advocates. Although observers might argue that the company has done well at achieving a balance, Starbucks's leaders run the risk of satisfying neither constituency and must constantly justify themselves to both. Through the voices of Central American coffee farmers, officers at corporate headquarters, independent café owners, unionists, baristas, traders, global justice activists, and consumers, Fellner explores the forces that affect Starbucks's worth and worthiness. Along the way, she subjects her own unabashedly progressive perspective to scrutiny and emerges with a compelling and unexpected look at Starbucks, the global economy, our economic convictions, and the values behind our morning cup of joe.

Reviews from Goodreads.com

Write a review (you'll need to sign in to your Goodreads account or sign up) (showing 1-5 of 7)
By Luke (Washington, DC) · ★★★☆☆ · October 08, 2009
Very good book but a bit academically dry. Very well researched and very fair.

I actually came into this book hoping it would lay out the big critiques of Starbucks and have the facts to back it up. Much of this book is outlining the critiques and then showing the facts that indicate the critiques... ...more
By Sarah (Columbus, OH) · ★★★★☆ · June 23, 2009
Interesting book by a veteran labor activist about the pros and cons of Starbucks. She concludes that on most issues Starbucks really is a better corporate citizen than most -- although she calls them out for union busting. It's a thought-provoking read for anyone who's ever taken a knee jerk ant... ...more
By Simeon (The United States) · ★★★☆☆ · December 21, 2008
only into the second chapter, but this is a fascinating look into the company from a marketing/cultural/social aspect.. fun read so far ...more
By Spena (Palo Alto, CA) · November 04, 2008
Great, interesting read on the history of Starbucks. But, I also learned a lot about coffee! ...more
By Jaclyn (Portland, OR) · ★★☆☆☆ · May 23, 2010
I read this for a class. While it was quite interesting, it just wasn't my cup of coffee. ...more