Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
When I walk into a coffee shop, the last thing I need is someone nagging me about my carbon footprint.
I lived in Toronto, Canada prior to the arrival of Starbucks in that city. Each new location opening in our residential or work neighbourhoods was a cause for celebration. For years, my husband and I were five-days-a-week customers. At least.
The Starbucks experience has always been about customization. Instead of carafes of already-brewed coffee behind the counter, each beverage is prepared fresh, to individual taste. Because we were regular customers, staff knew my husband preferred a lighter roast, and what size cup to fill. They knew I preferred my chai latte – a spiced East Indian tea – with two pumps of spice rather than three.
Chai is traditionally made from warmed milk. Whether that milk is low-fat or full-fat, this beverage is dairy intensive. My longtime physician, of Asian descent, heartily approved. Generations of women in her culture are prone to weak bones due to a shortage of calcium in their low-dairy cuisines.
After we moved to a small town, Starbucks became a big-city treat rather than a regular part of our lifestyle. But that’s all over now.
Last month, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson told journalists his company intends to start pressuring customers to use less dairy and more soy and almond milk. Not for nutritional reasons. But because fake milk apparently has a lower carbon footprint.
There’s nothing natural about these ‘milks.’ They are highly processed foods, totally new to the human metabolism. Some dieticians have begun sounding the alarm about people who consume them in large quantities.
But that ignores the elephant in the room. When I walk into a Starbucks, I’m the one paying the bill. In exchange for a particular experience.
When I walk into a Starbucks I’m thinking about the day ahead, my deadlines and responsibilities. The last thing I need, or am prepared to tolerate, is someone pressuring me about the carbon footprint associated with my choice of beverage.
So sayonara, Starbucks. My carbon footprint won’t ever again be your concern. From now on, I’ll be patronizing coffee shops that don’t patronize me.