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Starbucks: Brewing controversy instead of coffee

Support Palestine by exploring local brews

I am a chronic coffee drinker. My day starts with a freshly brewed 20-ounce cup of black coffee that I make from the comfort of my dorm. It’s the perfect amount of caffeine to get me through the morning. My second cup is typically a flavored iced latte that serves as my leisure sipping cup. If I happen to stumble upon another coffee opportunity, or imminent deadlines and exams pressure me into indulging, cups three and four may make an appearance. However, recently my coffee habits have been forced to change. Starbucks, the global leader in the coffee industry, has been declared a boycott target, forcing millions of coffee drinkers worldwide to source their coffee from elsewhere. And you should, too.

For context, the Israel-Palestine conflict is a protracted and deeply rooted geopolitical struggle primarily centered around territorial disputes and competing national aspirations in the Middle East. In October 2023, war broke out, drawing attention from the entire world. Leaders and companies from diverse backgrounds took to social media to share their opinions on the matter, including the group Starbucks Workers United.

On the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Starbucks Workers United made a post in solidarity with Palestine with a picture of the Palestinian political extremist group Hamas tearing down a fence on the Gaza Strip. Starbucks responded with a forceful statement strongly condemning the group’s views, which resulted in a double lawsuit from both parties. Consumers interpreted the message as a means of censoring the Starbucks Workers Union, implying that Starbucks supports Israel. As a result, consumers are boycotting, and it’s working.

In response to the boycott, Starbucks has been scrambling to make amends with its customers, offering promotional deals such as 50% off all drinks on Thursdays. This kind of incentivization is rare for a company that prides itself on serving the upper-business class. In an attempt to reverse the damage, CEO Laxman Narasimhan released a statement claiming that “[o]ur stance is clear. We stand for humanity.” Despite Narasimhan’s efforts, this statement backfired for the company. Distancing itself from the pro-Palestine Union further angered supporters of Palestine, reinforcing the boycott which has now contributed to a 9% drop in share price since November.

Starbucks’ pathetic attempt to reestablish customer loyalty proves that boycotting works. However, a boycott is only effective if everyone contributes to the cause. As the genocide in Palestine approaches a death toll of almost 30,000, with the majority being women and children, it is becoming increasingly important for the world to keep its eyes on Palestine. Through small actions such as spreading awareness through social media and correcting misconstrued propaganda, regular people like us students at Case Western Reserve University can have a voice, speaking for the Palestinians who have been silenced by Israeli occupation. We need to start with each one of us adopting the social responsibility to fight for Palestine and reflecting that in our actions—starting with boycotting.

Luckily, the CWRU community provides a plethora of alternatives for us coffee addicts to get a fix. For those living in the North Residential Village, cozy coffee shops such as The Coffee House provide a welcoming environment for students to grab a hot latte and study in a rustic environment. If you happen to be on the go on Euclid Avenue, you can stop by Odd Dog Coffee, a cute food truck partnered with the Museum of Contemporary Art. Blue Sky Brews and Algebra Tea House do an excellent job serving Southside residents with their inviting atmosphere and chill study environment. Phoenix Coffee Co. in Coventry is also a great option if you happen to be shopping for the day at Avalon Exchange. And of course, my personal favorite for coffee on the meal plan, Cafe on the Quad, is a phenomenal option, with their iced white chocolate latte being my personal favorite.

Still not satisfied? Make it yourself! We are fortunate enough to have access to coffee makers, K-cups and a plethora of different coffee grounds and syrups. Thus, if you can’t find a favorite place around campus to pick up a cup, design your own.

Still not satisfied? Then quit coffee! Though it may be a long time until I come around to achieving this feat, I highly recommend it for people who are looking to wean off caffeine and source their energy from elsewhere. Research shows that establishing a good, consistent sleep schedule with a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night can boost your mood and provide you with more energy for the day. Working out, especially early in the morning, has shown to have similar health benefits.

Ultimately, it’s up to us to support Palestine in any way we can. If the United Nations refuses to intervene, we must. Through boycotting Starbucks, we can share our support for Palestine, ensuring that our actions reflect our moral responsibility to fight injustice. So take this as a sign to try a new local coffee shop. Feed your addiction, but do so ethically. Stay caffeinated, CWRU.

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