Friday, May 5, 2017

Jamaica Coffee Revolution - Starbucks Invasion


Yesterday the Observer reported that Jamaica will get its first Starbucks and just reading the headlines filled me with rage. I do not normally express myself with curse words but that news was far too much to take. The very idea that Jamaicans will take money to pay for a Starbucks franchise in Jamaica is an affront to the entire coffee industry and the history of Jamaican coffee.


It is fair to say that even though Jamaica make some of the best coffee in the world, Jamaicans are not coffee drinkers. Jamaicans drink tea, we love our herbs and bushes and drink it day and night to fix various ailments. It is under this climate and uphill battle that our various Gourmet Cafés have been trying to carve out and create a market. There was a time, if you drink coffee then all you could get was instant Salada, instant Mountain Peak and imported Maxwell house rubbish which is like bringing sand to the beach but that was it. The Jamaican coffee revolution started some time ago and was on track to win the war, however slowly. I remember in the early 90’s when news broke that Jamaican Coffee was served at Buckingham Palace but it hardly served in Jamaica. In fact Jamaica has been exporting Coffee to Europe for centuries, so why do we need Starbucks?


For Coffee growers, producers and retail outlets it has not been an easy road BUT if you want Jamaicans to appreciate something that they already own, appreciate their own local produce then all you have to do is export it, then Import it and slap a made in the USA label on it. The Jamaican body might be trapped in Third World, developing Jamaica but the Jamaican mind is wondering landscape and streets of New York, Miami and LA, London, Paris and all the world’s major metropolitan cities. Think of it like being hooked into the Matrix, a virtual world, living our pretend “Over the Top” lifestyles that we clearly cannot afford but who gives a damn!


The news of Starbucks’s impending arrival was met with great celebration and fanfare because Jamaicans in their feeble little small minds, think this is a status symbol. If all the world’s major metropolitan cities have Starbucks and Jamaica now have Starbucks then Jamaica is right up there with them, we have arrived to the promise land. People who do not even like to drink coffee or do not normally drink coffee are now impatiently awaiting Starbucks arrival to start drinking coffee because it is only worth drinking when it is an imported brand name product from foreign.

Cypher: [cuts a piece of steak; holds it in front of him] You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? [eats the piece of steak; sighs contently] Ignorance is bliss.

Starbucks offers brew and beans from various regions, including Colombia and Ethiopia. It also sells specially curated beans for its Reserve line from regions like Sumatra, Guatemala, Antigua and Jamaica.

Starbucks Jamaica will also seek to sell coffee from global origins, but avoided responding directly to whether it would import beans into the island.

Offering beans from global origins implies coffee importation which requires a licence from the Coffee Board, unless Starbucks Jamaica opts to source beans through an existing coffee importer who can match Starbucks' standards.

Jamaica already imports around 433 tonnes of green coffee beans each year to shore up its own supplies. The imports represent around $300 million (US$2.3 million) of expenditure annually that critics say can be better spent domestically to provide jobs and grow coffee output.



What is it about us Jamaicans, we complain that we suffer from low productivity but spend most of our time kicking away the legs from under our local industry simply because we want what those people in that country is having even when what they are having is inferior to what we have.

I remember when we first started importing bottled American water, people use to take great pleasure walking around with these foreign water bottles, with labels facing outwards, sipping with pride. Basking in the knowledge that they are now drinking the same nasty water that their American counterparts are drinking. I also remember in the 80’s being at a party that was serving canned Bud Beer, it was very new at the time and everyone at that party stopped drinking Red Stripe and only wanted to hold those cans in their hands, it was total poppy show on display for all to see. This is the mindset we are dealing with, one that is not only counterproductive but our own worst enemy.

The Jamaican Coffee Shops and Gourmet Café Houses are the front-line soldiers in the Jamaican Coffee Revolutionary War. They have taken on the responsibilities to convert Jamaica from a tea drinking country to a coffee drinking country, promoting our local flagship product. They have made large financial investments and just when it seems they are about to break even and making some progress here comes Starbucks and the idiots who got the franchise, local businesses be damned.

I love our Coffee houses, I find most of them comfortable places to visit and the product they sell top quality. It is a shame most Jamaicans are not as excited about them as they are excited about Starbucks coming to Jamaica. What is it about Starbucks that made it more exciting than any of our local coffee houses? I fail to see the appeal, can someone please enlighten me.


Cafe Blue – Great coffee and consistently good food and service 


Cannonball Cafe – Loshusan and Sovereign North

CPJ Market and Deli



Brew’d Awakenings - Matilda’s Corner


Kicking Away the Legs From Under Local Production
As responsible Jamaicans we also need to follow the money trail, who own the franchise, are they also members of the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Cartel? The ones who have the entire industry working for them and them alone. Who got the licence to open Starbucks in Jamaica when the coffee shop industry in Jamaica, is still in its beginning/Startup stages and why Starbucks?


WHO is the target market and should we not be using our nascent coffee shop industry to promote our Jamaican Coffee? The industry has been devastated these past few years due to natural disasters and falling prices, so how this going rebuild our coffee brand with the establishment of Starbucks?

Why is Jamaica helping to turn around Starbucks at the expense of our own Coffee shops?

What, if any, will be the relationship between Starbucks and Jamaican coffee suppliers? Will they Starbucks sell Jamaican coffee blends? Who benefits? Will the growers benefit? (Growers i.e. small farmers’ vs big busha who own the plantation and drive round in in Range Rover).

With all this talk about fair trade and community coffee, how will that play out with Starbucks relationship in Jamaica? Will Starbucks target to small farmers?

Jamaica itself has not done much to promote brands that are not premium Blue Mountain coffee, so how will they survive the Starbucks.

Starbucks sells hot chocolate and Jamaica grows lots of Cocoa, so will there be any tension, will Starbucks use local Cocoa or will they import?

But we know how all of this will play out, we have been here before many times. McDonald's/Burger King/Popeye’s etc. has already shown us. The franchisees will have to source their makings from abroad because Jamaican beef/chicken/tomatoes/lettuce/now coffee and cocoa beans are not up to their standard. So who benefits? The franchise, the franchisee and couple little counter / cashier / dishwasher subsistence workers.


We have already seen that some Jamaicans who live the rich lifestyles, have no problem feeding the populace cheap pink slime beef patty because they won't source natural organic Jamaican beef, preferring instead to maximize their profits at the expense of Nation Building.

I am not shocked that Adam Stewart is a member of the company that is opening Starbucks. The Best thing to ever to Butch Stewart and his Family was getting this Rubber-stamp Government to authorized anything and everything that is not in the National Interest but in the Interest of the Stewart Family. What is magical about this is that the Butch Stewart and family have managed to convince most of Jamaica that what is in the Stewart Family Interest is also in the National Interest while lining their own pockets. This Government is in the pockets of the Stewart Family who bankrolled their political Party to power.


What People are saying:

Max Maro said: So even though majority of the money will be shipped back to the US. We can still make gains where taxes and employment is concerned. There's also a possibility of sponsorship. Who knows, local coffee growers may make something and plus, more competition for cafe blue and competition is great. Might pay something less when you visit cafe blue next time.

JTID:  It is not a secret that Café Blue cannot compete with a Global Brand like Starbucks, how could they? But you would prefer to kick away the legs from under local companies like Café Blue and other local outlets who started this local Coffee revolution in the first place in favour of Starbucks. Jamaicans are Jamaicans worse enemies because they cannot see the forest for the trees.

Competition is only great when you stand a chance at surviving. A company like Starbucks can under price the local competition to death and you would support that.



This is my trusted coffee maker


This is my favorite Brand


















2 comments:

  1. My husband is a Blue Mtn coffee farmer. We do not need this franchise here in Jamaica. Starbucks over roast coffee in my opinion and very few baristas know anything about the origin of the noble coffee plant.

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  2. Most of who control the local coffee are from the same cloth as the stewarts, we just have to admit that Jamaica is a semi colonial country whose purpose is to make money for the globalist akin to the slave trade. Our politicians are owned and really lack power.

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