According to Google Maps, our home in Cochituate is just under 600 feet from the nearest Starbucks. On a clear day, we can pick up its WiFi signal better than our own. Given my love of coffee, you would think this would be idyllic; but while I’m not above spending $4 for a soy latte, I just don’t care for the taste of most of their coffees. I think they’re every bit as over-roasted as they are over-priced. Fortunately there are many talented coffee roasters out there, few with tastier offerings than Tandem Coffee Roasters in Portland, ME. I order coffee by the bag from their website and have it shipped to me here in Cochituate. So yes, I prefer to buy my coffee from a place 120 miles away versus 600 feet away, knowing that I’m not only patronizing a business belonging to personal friends of ours, but also knowing that I’m getting a higher quality product.
I offer this as full disclosure in light of the news that a Philadelphia Starbucks had two black men arrested for allegedly trespassing. Starbucks has apologized profusely for the incident, while the Philadelphia police department has defended the actions of its officers. With many family members in law enforcement, I know that this is a no-win scenario. The racial optics of the situation speaks to issues far deeper than whether or not the police had acted within a “legal obligation to carry out their duties”.
Rather than get into an argument about who was or wasn’t in the right, I’d like to suggest a radical idea: rather than boycott Starbucks in protest, why not seek out local coffee and tea establishments as an expression of support and solidarity? Shoppe Black offers this list of 47 Black-Owned Coffee and Tea Businesses as a start. It’s a positive message with a caffeine kick.
And if you like Starbucks, that’s fine by me. I’ll make the 600 foot walk to meet up with you at any time, mindful that we may have some unexpected guests.