This article on a trademark battle between Starbucks and the government of Ethiopia appeared in Fortune Magazine and is archived below.
February 26, 2007
Starbucks vs. Ethiopia
The country that gave the world the coffee bean and the company that invented the $4 latte are fighting over a trademark, says Fortune’s Stephan Faris.
By Stephan Faris
To produce a pound of organic sun-dried coffee, farmers in the southern Ethiopian village of Fero spread six pounds of ripe, red coffee cherries onto pallets near their fields. They sun the fruit for 15 days, stirring every few minutes to ensure uniform dryness, then shuck the shells.
Last season, that pound of coffee fetched farmers an average price of $1.45. Figuring in the cost of generator fuel, bank interest, labor and transport across Ethiopia’s dusty roads, it netted them less than $1. In the U.S., however, that same pound of coffee commands a much higher price: $26 for a bag of Starbucks’ roasted Shirkina Sun-Dried Sidamo.