Where not to get coffee
James Hayes-Bohanan , Ph.D.
Coffee Maven and Geographer
Bridgewater State College
UPDATED March 5, 2013
I have expanded this site's information about coffee shops, coffee roasters, coffee tours, health effects,
and coffee preparation, and have moved that information to other pages. Please explore!
|Despite my modest efforts,
Dunkin' Donuts seems likely to be with us for a some time
to come. Sadly, its trash will be around even longer.
The Earth Breathes in Dunkin' is an online campaign to draw attention to the pollution generated by the packaging choices made by Dunkin' Donuts and its customers. Hot coffees except small are served in foam cups that are very persistent in the environment. Iced coffee is served in the clear plastic that is, sadly, the industry norm plus a foam cup to protect the delicate fingers of customers.
Re-usable cups are the best, of course, though they are not conducive to having the coffee handed through the windows of idling cars.
|Dunkin' Donuts offers fair-trade coffee, but
only in its "espresso" drinks (not real espresso, but
that is a minor point). This has given some customers
the impression that DD is a fair-trade company. FAR FROM
IT! Espresso-like drinks are a trivial portion of the
business. Actually, it is not uncommon for companies
that sell a small percentage of fair-trade coffee to
display the fair-trade logos prominently -- caveat
Back to DD: in September 2009 two stories about the company caught my eye. One is about bogus (though so far not widely-circulated) claims that most of its coffee is shade-grown. The other is a business story, about how the company -- under pressure from its financier and all-around evil-doer Mitt Romney -- is now attacking its own franchise owners.. Those who hold out hope that DD will start treating farmers well should pay attention to how badly it is beating up fellow capitalists. See my "Not Made in the Shade" and "More Trouble" blog entries for details and links. See also the Mitt Dunkin article in which I describe the Mitt Romney connection in more detail, and my Have Nots and Do Nots for a more general critique of the lazy rich, who get rich the old-fashioned way: by having the poor earn it for them!
Dunkin D Central
I live under one of the pink dots on the U.S. map above -- not far from DDHQ in Canton, Massachusetts. The DD shops are pretty thick here, as you can see from this map of my neighborhood to the left. In an area measuring about 3 by 2 miles, DD has 11 identified stores. This does not include small counters on the college campus, or two highway rest areas that are just a smidge south of this image. In other words -- these shops are incredibly convenient, and people in the Northeast -- particularly in Massachusetts -- visit them almost reflexively. It is difficult to attend a sporting event or community meeting without spying the familiar cup in many hands.
Because of its size, Dunkin Donuts has an opportunity to make a difference in the world of coffee, but it has done so in only a token way. (Starbucks has done only slightly better, I know). DD offers fair-trade coffee in its espresso-based drinks, but most of what it sells is inferior coffee, with no attention paid to the well-being of the farmers who produce it.
Dunkin' Donuts could also do much more to reduce waste and litter. Hot coffee is served in styrofoam and iced coffee is served in plastic plus styrofoam. Dunkin Donuts accepts and even sells reusable cups, but it does not give them any kind of favorable pricing.
The on-air personalities of Good Morning America explain what is un-American about caving in to bigotry.
Quality, fairness, and litter had been on my mind for a long time, but I did not decide to single out DD for criticism until the Rachael Ray dust-up. As reported by Arianna Huffington in May, 2008, Dunkin' Donuts removed an online advertisement for iced coffee because Rachael Ray wore a scarf that some people considered pro-terrorist, merely because of the fringe opinion that it looked like a kaffiyeh, which is widely worn by Arabs and sometimes worn to express pro-Arab solidarity. The critics of the ad made several ludicrous leaps in logic -- equating a patterned scarf with a kaffiyeh and equaiting Arab identity with terrorism. Dunkin' Donuts showed extreme cowardice by pulling the ad, and Rachael Ray even more cowardice by accepting this decision.
I have written both to DD and to Rachael Ray about this unfortunate incident. The reply from DD is shown below, with my rebuttal. Rachael Ray has refused to answer me. If anybody can find a public statement from the company or Ms. Ray, please let me know.
August 2011 Update: I stand by my criticism of Rachel Ray in this incident, but she has -- in my view -- redeemed herself by the way she has championed and supported the work of Wilma Stephenson, a remarkable educator from Philadelphia.
|June 6, 2008 ~~ Dunkin
Donuts reply to my complaint
Thank you for sharing your comments. We always appreciate hearing from our customers. The intent of the online ad featuring Rachael Ray wearing a paisley silk scarf was to promote iced coffee. Given the surprising and truly unfortunate interpretation of this ad from some of our consumers, we decided to pull the ad and replace it with another as it is no longer serving its intended purpose, which was to simply promote our iced coffee---nothing more, nothing less.
At Dunkin' Donuts, we value all of our customers and remain steadfastly committed to making your experiences with us both memorable and pleasant. Thank you, again, for making us aware of your concerns; it is appreciated.
I highlight "value all of our customers" because DD makes the all-too common assumption that Arab Americans (of whom there are at leat 3.5 million) and Muslim Americans (of whom there are about 7 million) simply do not exist.
|June 6, 2008 ~~ My
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my concerns. Unfortunately, it is sometimes not possible to avoid taking sides, try as we might. Though you did not seek it, you were presented with a chance to take a principled stand, and you did not do so. Instead, you followed the lead of people who do not understand neither [sic] the principles of religious liberty on which this country was founded, nor the value of diversity that has made this country -- and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in particular -- great.
I hope you will reconsider this unfortunate decision. It is bad for our country.
I highlight "bad for our country" because Dunkin' Donuts has made the all-too common assumption that its actions can be considered in a strictly commercial context, ignoring its obligations to reflect the values of the community of which it is a part. These values include tolerance, liberty, and respect for pluralism.