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A Complex Relationship Puts Coffee in the Cup

November 10, 2002

Re "Coffee's Bitter Harvest," Oct. 5:

Thank you for the article about the coffee growers' situation across the world. Having worked in corporate specialty coffee (Starbucks and Peet's) for more than 10 years, I was glad to see your article distinguish between the purchasing practices of these small-time but high-profile retail chains and the practices of the multinational, least-common-denominator coffee companies.

Both Starbucks and Peet's still pay top dollar for the best coffee available and have consistently tried to raise the bar in terms of fair and generous relationships with growers around the world while operating within a marketplace that has consistently placed short-term gains over sustainable, equitable long-term growth.

As to the question that some readers may have about the "cost" of their cup at a store, they should not forget the cost of rent, the cost of labor and, when drinking their lattes, the cost of milk and the espresso machines.

Brian Taraz

Store manager, Peet's Coffee

and Tea, Corona del Mar

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