It recently emerged that Starbucks are paying very little in tax and have paid no corporation tax for the last three years. There is nothing illegal going on in terms of tax evasion, they insist, but the discovery may do damage to a brand that puts itself out as a carefree, mildly redistributive form of doing business. Being involved in Fairtrade, for instance, is one of the reasons why a customer chooses Starbucks over, say, Costa or Caffe Nero.
But why opt for another chain when there are so many independents out there making better coffees, in an ethically-aware way. I write on this blog about the many coffee shops all over the country that produce great coffee, and though I haven’t audited all of them, I’m sure the majority are too small to be running funds through other countries. On top of this, because the quality of the beans is higher, and the craftmanship is deeper, independent coffee shops often produce far better cups of coffee for very similar prices to the big chains. This is how I can afford to harp on about the complexities of a single cup, as if it were a wine.
As a result of the shattering of the Starbucks veneer, a small group in South East England have started the ‘Campaign for Real Coffee‘ on Facebook, attempting to raise awareness of Starbucks’ tax avoidance and the effort that goes into making every cup special in independent, artisan coffee shops. Not only do you get better flavour for your money, your money is also not going straight to shareholders.
Campaign for Real Coffee
BBC news Starbucks story
Starbucks ‘commitment to the UK’
If you want to learn more about the advantages of artisan coffee shops either read more of this blog, or something like this is a good place to start.