Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Second Cup's Rwanda "Cup of Hope"


Recommended Posts

I have a longstanding beef with Second Cup for their unwillingness to step forward as a non-fair trade but still canadian coffee chain. For a long time I've felt that by opting to support Foster Parent's Plan and ignoring the fair trade debate altogether they were doing themselves a disservice, and undersestimating the knowledge their customers had on the subject. Not that Foster Parent's Plan is a bad thing, just that it's an apples and oranges thing.

That said I walked past the local second cup the other day and noticed a poster for something called the Rwanda Cup of Hope. This is a new coffee that they've begun to source from Rwanda and sell in whole bean and ground form. My first instincts told me this was a marketing ploy and that was backed up on three visitsd to three stores seeking information on the bean and promotion itself.

[i wish I was making this up]

Visit 1:

Me: "Hi. I saw your poster and was wondering if you have any information on the Rwanda Cup of Hope?"

Barista: "Sarah, do you know anything about that? No? Well all I know is that it's a medium Roast"

Visit 2:

Me: "Hi. I saw your poster and was wondering if you have any information on the Rwanda Cup of Hope?"

Barista: "Well, no. All we have are the big posters that are on the wall. Do you want one of those?"

Visit 3:

Me: "Hi. I saw your poster and was wondering if you have any information on the Rwanda Cup of Hope?"

Barista: "No, but all of the money goes to Rwanda"

Me: "You mean all of the profits? What for?"

Barista [puzzled look on her face, looking at other staff for confirmation]: "To...help the genocide?"

Visit 4:

Me:"Hi. I saw your poster and was wondering if you have any information on the Rwanda Cup of Hope?"

Barista: "Ok, here's the deelio. Second Cup's finally found a coffee in Rwanda that matches our flavour profile. By sourcing it directly from the country we're helping to support the local economy"

Yes, she really said deelio. Now I'm wondering what to make of this whole thing? There's a big part of me that is thinking of rallying Oxfam and other fair trade activist groups to send a resounding letter of shame to Second Cup's Management, asking for either a re-investment of these funds in their communities (which I doubt is the case as that's the sort of thing they'd explicitly state" or better clarification about their simple and essentially meaningless act of buying Rwandan coffee. Several fair trade purveyors have been offering Rwandan Coffee for years, under FT restrictions and with assurance that their sourcing of it is sustainable and long-term. Have these assurances been made by Second Cup? What if this time next year the "flavour profile" changes and SC starts selling the Nicaraguan cup of hope?

This seems like the appropriate forum for this so let's open it up and talk about whether I'm unnecessarily flying off the handle about this, or whether there are some concrete actions that could be taken to get this into the public spotilight a bit more.

I know there are fair trade supporters and negators here, but let's look at whether this is shameless marketing or just a lightly unclear promotion

Link to post
Share on other sites

About 10 years ago the Second Cup in Pacific Centre Mall in Vancouver sold Fair trade coffee. It was an independent chain but was still connected to the main corporation. I don't remember any big marketing ploys behind it, but at that time, they wasn't any need to do any heaving marketing. At 8:30am the place was packed with all the retail workers having their morning coffee and cigarrette. Yes, back in the day when you could smoke in a shopping mall. Are there other Second Cups in the area with the same posters?

Link to post
Share on other sites
About 10 years ago the Second Cup in Pacific Centre Mall in Vancouver sold Fair trade coffee.  It was an independent chain but was still connected to the main corporation.  I don't remember any big marketing ploys behind it, but at that time, they wasn't any need to do any heaving marketing.  At 8:30am the place was packed with all the retail workers having their morning coffee and cigarrette.  Yes, back in the day when you could smoke in a shopping mall.  Are there other Second Cups in the area with the same posters?

Yes, there are a number of them. I can't be sure that it's a national campaign as there's no information on their website.

I left a message with their cutomer relations dept. to get some information on it. And I'm really not taking this out on the baristas who answered me because if they've been given no information then that's not a surprise.

Link to post
Share on other sites
...or better clarification about their simple and essentially meaningless act of buying Rwandan coffee.

Buying Rwandan coffee isn't meaningless.

Please don't jump to those sorts of knee-jerk conclusions. There are some very significant things going on out there, particularly involving Rwanda. How this "Second Cup" program relates, I'm not entirely sure... but know this: the PEARL project that I linked to is in jeopardy. While you find it "meaningless" that this company has started buying Rwandan coffee, if the PEARL project indeed, as it is in serious danger of, loses its funding, you'll see the same Rwandan coffee one day disappear from the shelves. While you go on with your daily life, the livelihoods of thousands of Rwandans will have been negatively effected by the lack of management over the washing stations that the PEARL project helped build.

Don't mean to jump down your throat, but it frankly upsets me when I see otherwise (generally) well-intentioned people passing some serious judgement on things that they know very little about, based on a handful (if that) of personal "experiences" with low-wage retail staff of some company.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Murky I'm afraid your tirade is heavily discounted when it seems you're neither familiar with Second Cup nor this particular promotion. As per your earlier comments

it frankly upsets me when I see otherwise (generally) well-intentioned people passing some serious judgement on things that they know very little about

Yes, buying coffee from Rwanda is a positive step but if that sole act is being used in a cause marketing campaign that supplies baristas, managers (the "deelio" girl in my mini-dialogue) and customer care reps with no information about the brand, am I wrong in wondering whether this is ill-conceived and a bit of a sham marketing ploy?

What if Wal-Mart started carrying signs promoting a "soccer ball of hope", announcing that they'd recently begun sourcing soccer balls from rural pakistan, and in so doing helped people in that village out of poverty. Would you be suspicious and want to know more?

That said I emailed Second Cup to ask for some more information about the Cup of Hope and received this reponse:

In regards to the new Rwandan Cup of Hope coffee, this is actually not

a promotional offer, but a new coffee being introduced into our

portfolio. It is purchased under the Solid Grounds purchasing Practice as are all of

our other coffees. It will continue to be available to our customer as we

are in the process of forming a lasting bond with this region and should be

available in all cafés depending on availability, we have found that

our customers are quite big fans of this new product. Our cafés did

actually receive quite detailed information in regards to the coffees and we are

broaching it with each café as our Territory Managers do in café

visits.

Unfortunately we have found that in notifying the franchisee, sometimes

the information doesn't make it's way to the staff in a timely manner but

we are taking the necessary steps to ensure that the café staff is equally

knowledgeable.

It's a satisfactory answer and confirms that this is just a new product introduction.

I do believe this is a positive step but what irks me is the amount of self-governing and self-reporting that a chain like this relies on when trumpteing their social causes. For instance, their earlier form email talks about supporting a "fair trade for farmers by often paying a higher price than other chains". As they are not fair trade certified by either the Canadian certifying body (Transfair) or the FLO, what price are they paying? Who sets the price they pay? What percentage of their premium is re-invested in their community? And ultimately who monitors and makes accountable the buyer?

Fair Trade certification answers these questions, ensures in more than words that farmers receive a fair price and sets out real standards for investment in coffee and neighbouring communities.

I know, no politics on eGullet :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

What makes the "Fair Trade" brand such the gold standard?

Why is anything not branded with this mark viewed with such suspicion?

Where does the taste of the product come into the equation?

And what does this retailer's Canadian status have to do with anything?

While the Fair Trade idea is a nice idea, any commerce is good commerce in some parts of the world. If Rwanda is in an economic state where it has yet to develop a class of rapacious middlemen that Fair Trade hopes to circumvent, then boycotting non-Fair-Trade coffee from there is counterproductive. Rapacious middlemen provide an incentive to people to grow things. Fair Trade makes it better for them after they invest the effort into growing stuff for the rapacious middlemen and don't want to cut the quality in order to please the rapacious middlemen.

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

Link to post
Share on other sites
What makes the "Fair Trade" brand such the gold standard? 

Why is anything not branded with this mark viewed with such suspicion? 

Where does the taste of the product come into the equation?

And what does this retailer's Canadian status have to do with anything?

While the Fair Trade idea is a nice idea, any commerce is good commerce in some parts of the world.  If Rwanda is in an economic state where it has yet to develop a class of rapacious middlemen that Fair Trade hopes to circumvent, then boycotting non-Fair-Trade coffee from there is counterproductive.  Rapacious middlemen provide an incentive to people to grow things.  Fair Trade makes it better for them after they invest the effort into growing stuff for the rapacious middlemen and don't want to cut the quality in order to please the rapacious middlemen.

I think the point is not that Fair Trade is a better standard than anything else, it's essentially the ONLY standard that ensures growers and producers a better quality of life on a sustainable basis. Any other aspect of self-reporting and congratulatory backslapping veiled as Corporate Social Responsibility in my mind isn't worth the paper its printed on in this scenario.

From Transfair's website:

The Fair Trade certification system begins at the production level in countries where the source products and ingredients originate. All Fair Trade Certified products come from certified producer organizations. Beyond the source, the entire supply chain is monitored to ensure the integrity of labelled products. This chain of certification, monitoring and licensing ensures that the integrity of the supply chain cannot be compromised. It ensures that only a product or ingredient certified at the source can be labelled as Fair Trade Certified, and not just by anyone. Only licensees can use the Fair Trade Certified label on their products.

You could compare the debatable aspects of FT to the Organic movement....which at least in Canada is structured similiarly as a voluntary certification that carries with it some marketing advantages as well as concrete advantages for people within the production system. Unlike the organic movement though, there is one system and one system only that guarantees stringent monitoring and evaluation, and that is the Transfair logo...or its country-specific counterpart that also falls under the FLO.

So it's in the best interest of the producer to be Fair Trade certified and raise the value of his export. It's in the consumer's best interest to purchase fair trade certified coffee and be assured on both the origins, quality and important social achievements being made in its name.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By Objective Foodie
      During the past year, our coffee consumption at home has increased substantially. We have tried beans from different roasteries from the UK and Europe, but we are constantly in the search of new ones. The speciality coffee market has been rapidly increasing in past years and it is becoming easier to find high quality beans.
       
      The best roasteries we have tried so far:
      UK based: Round Hill Roastery, Square Mile, Monmouth,  Pharmacie, New Ground, Workshop, James Gourmet, Ozone. Europe based: The Barn (Germany), Gardelli (Italy), Hard Beans (Poland), Calendar (Ireland), Roasted Brown (Ireland), Right Side (Spain), Coffee Collective (Denmark).  
      Have you had any exciting coffee beans lately? Do you have any other recommendations?
    • By Kasia
      INSTEAD OF COFFEE? - MORNING GREEN COCKTAIL
       
      After waking up, most of us head towards the kitchen for the most welcome morning drink. Coffee opens our eyes, gets us up and motivates us to act. Today I would like to offer you a healthy alternative to daily morning coffee. I don't want to turn you off coffee completely. After all, it has an excellent aroma and fantastic flavor. There isn't anything more relaxing during a busy day than a coffee break with friends.

      In spite of the weather outside, change your kitchen for a while and try something new. My green cocktail is also an excellent way to wake up and restore energy. Add to it a pinch of curcuma powder, which brings comfort and acts as a buffer against autumn depression.

      Ingredients (for 2 people):
      200ml of green tea
      4 new kale leaves
      1 green cucumber
      half an avocado
      1 pear
      1 banana
      pinch of salt
      pinch of curcuma

      Peel the avocado, pear and banana. Remove the core from the pear. Blend every ingredient very thoroughly. If the drink is too thick, add some green tea. Drink at once.

      Enjoy your drink!
       
       

    • By Kasia
      My Irish Coffee  
      Today the children will have to forgive me, but adults also sometimes want a little pleasure. This is a recipe for people who don't have to drive a car or work, i.e. for lucky people or those who can rest at the weekend. Irish coffee is a drink made with strong coffee, Irish Whiskey, whipped cream and brown sugar. It is excellent on cold days. I recommend it after an autumn walk or when the lack of sun really gets you down. Basically, you can spike the coffee with any whiskey, but in my opinion Jameson Irish Whiskey is the best for this drink.

      If you don't like whiskey, instead you can prepare another kind of spiked coffee: French coffee with brandy, Spanish coffee with sherry, or Jamaican coffee with dark rum.
      Ingredients (for 2 drinks)
      300ml of strong, hot coffee
      40ml of Jameson Irish Whiskey
      150ml of 30% sweet cream
      4 teaspoons of coarse brown sugar
      1 teaspoon of caster sugar
      4 drops of vanilla essence
      Put two teaspoons of brown sugar into the bottom of two glasses. Brew some strong black coffee and pour it into the glasses. Warm the whiskey and add it to the coffee. Whisk the sweet cream with the caster sugar and vanilla essence. Put it gently on top so that it doesn't mix with the coffee.

      Enjoy your drink!
       
       

    • By Kasia
      Today I would like to share with you the recipe for swift autumn cookies with French pastry and a sweet ginger-cinnamon-pear stuffing. Served with afternoon coffee they warm us up brilliantly and dispel the foul autumn weather.

      Ingredients (8 cookies)
      1 pack of chilled French pastry
      1 big pear
      1 flat teaspoon of cinnamon
      1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
      2 tablespoons of brown sugar
      1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
      2 tablespoons of milk

      Heat the oven up to 190C. Cover a baking sheet with some baking paper.
      Wash the pear, peel and cube it. Add the grated ginger, cinnamon, vanilla sugar and one tablespoon of the brown sugar. Mix them in. Cut 8 circles out of the French pastry. Cut half of every circle into parallel strips. Put the pear stuffing onto the other half of each circle. Roll up the cookies starting from the edges with the stuffing. Put them onto the baking paper and make them into cones. Smooth the top of the pastry with the milk and sprinkle with brown sugar. bake for 20-22 minutes.

      Enjoy your meal!
       
       
       

    • By Johnhouse
      Hello everyone!
       
      I have been working in food and beverage industry for almost 10 years in different countries. I am looking forward to learn new things on this forum to expand my food and beverage knowledge as well as sharing my experiences that I gained in my journey!
       
      Have a good day! ☺️ 
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...