Coffee cups are getting ready for a tasting procedure by BSL students at Starbucks
MBA, Masters and Bachelor students paid a visit to Starbucks Coffee Trading Company (SCTC) at their premises in Lausanne this week. A warm welcome from the Starbucks team started the day well. We were donned aprons and began the day with Laurence Pawelczyk (Manager, green coffee quality). Laurence and her team taste a variety of coffees every morning before giving the seal of approval to the coffee that eventually ends up in the Starbucks coffee houses worldwide. Ms Pawelczyk explained the tasting (cupping) procedure to her interested audience, and BSL students tried and tested coffee samples from all over the world. Guatemalan, Ethiopian, Mexican, Brazilian and Kenyan coffees to name but a few…
The roasting of coffee samples was the second stage of our visit and we then proceeded to hear the presentation given by Colman Cuff, Vice President & SCTC Managing Director. The students heard about the challenges and opportunities of this business sector, the importance to Starbucks of sustainability, their C.A.F.E. Practices and the importance of those practices for this organization. Colman talked about the work carried out with farmers to help them improve their agricultural practices in order to ensure better incomes and better lives. Environmental, social and financial issues were all discussed and questioned and Cuff stressed the importance of quality to Starbucks – quality in everything they do.
The next discussion was led by Keith Hutjens (Director, tea sourcing). We were introduced to different teas and Keith, who clearly is passionate about tea, explained how the Starbucks teas are created, blended and mixed – what a surprise, we had no idea or certainly, I didn’t.
The BSL students who came with us to Starbucks are a diverse bunch, they from all over the globe; however, our Indian and Chinese participants, Nikita and Lei, seemed to be more knowledgeable about tea than the rest of us!
Bringing his presentation to a close Keith told us about Starbucks work with the Ethical Tea Partnership and he highlighted the importance of this relationship for Starbucks – a company, he said, who want to improve the conditions in the tea industry everywhere they work.
The meeting ended with a chance to talk freely to all the Starbucks people, including Chris von Zastrow (Director, coffee sustainability and Farmers Support Centers) and Florianne Frigenti (Senior Manager, sourcing).
The complexity of the coffee and tea industry and the efforts being made by Starbucks to work in a sustainable way impressed us all.
Pictures of the event are available on the BSL Flickr Page.
Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, BCL, LL.M, Solicitor