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Wrestling with Starbucks: Conscience, Capital, Cappuccino Hardcover – June 19, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (June 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813543207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813543208
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,245,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kim Fellner is a longtime progressive organizer and communicator. She earned an M.S. in Communications from the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Washington, D.C. - a short walk from nine coffee joints.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
That said, I am thoroughly enjoying this book.
J. Marino
Anyone concerned about globalization, the labor movement, work-life in America, and environmental protection needs to read this book.
Michael J. Brown
We learn from roasters about what makes good coffee, we learn from a young African American "partner" what makes a shop that works.
Karen Branan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Brown on July 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book. It is about so much more than Starbucks. It is about work life and the labor movement, globalization, culture, international trade, corporate branding, community activism, social justice, gentrification, and of course coffee. Fellner is a talented writer, with a sense of humor and a way with words that make this read like a novel. Yet the book is packed with information that goes down like a cool cup of coffee on a summer day. She has done her homework, including first-hand on-the-ground research in Costa Rica and Guatamala, and Seattle -- with the people who run Starbucks, the corporation, and Starbucks,the neighborhood coffee shop, and with those who protest against it.

There is much food for thought here, about how we treat farmers in the global south and how to organize workers in the global north, and what really matters to workers in the 21st Century. Fellner avoids cliches and this book will likely infuriate those who see the world in black and white, (bad corporations and good workers, good unions and nasty bosses, etc.) But that is what makes this book so important. Anyone concerned about globalization, the labor movement, work-life in America, and environmental protection needs to read this book. Wrestling with Starbucks is an apt title because Fellner wrestles with the reality and complexity of Starbucks -- and how it shows up in the world. This is a must read for organizers, activists and anyone concerned about our world today and where it is headed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Karen Branan on September 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Kim Fellner, long-time progressive organizer and journalist, is open-minded, engaging, and immensely intelligent. Several years ago she saw a window smashed by an anarchist at Starbucks and didn't like it. "What is Starbucks?" she, a latte lover, wondered. Should it be stoned, boycotted, organized, or supported, even emulated? She started poking around, became a barrista for a day, grilled CEO Howard Schultz three times, chatted with coffee pickers in Costa Rica and Guatemala, asking absolutely everyone all the right questions, blowing the whistle on the Fair Trade folks who claimed they were doing better by the workers than Starbucks, blew the whistle on Schultz over his handling of the Ethiopian growers, blew the whistle on Oxfam over its excesses in the affair. We learn from roasters about what makes good coffee, we learn from a young African American "partner" what makes a shop that works. We learn from Kim, her seamstress mom and opera conductor dad and dozens of friends and professional colleagues what works economically and what doesn't. We get an inside look at the labor movement, where Fellner has worked for years, both devotedly and critically, and see some common ground between its progressive edge and Starbucks. "Wrestling with Starbucks" is a surprising, entertaining, informative romp through a difficult subject, one that'll not only benefit students of business and labor, but the casual reader who was -- or is -- mysteriously mesmerized by Starbucks and wonders what that's all about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Brown on September 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Kim Fellner's book moves seamlessly from the personal to the
global, from the cultural to the political. She has created,
in a jaunty and fact-filled odyssey, an examination of Starbucks,
which becomes a metaphor for ways we live and operate in the world.
Providing an abundance of food for thought, and making it all brisk and entertaining, Ms. Fellner's book is as stimulating as a double
espresso. She has a facility for balancing two sides of an issue,
which allows the reader to examine the paradoxes of a "benevolent"
large-scale company, which happens to also wield cultural influence.
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By Sally Stoecker on December 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Did you know that Starbucks buys less than four percent of the world's coffee as compared with the biggies (Nescafe, Folgers, et al.) who buy 60 percent? Did you know that Starbucks spends nearly as much money on milk (for lattes, frappacinos, and the like) as it spends on coffee beans?
These are among the fascinating details that Kim Fellner's informative, balanced, and engaging book, Wrestling with Starbucks, provides.

My first thought, upon completing the book, was this would make an excellent text for business schools around the country. Among other things, it is a case study of Starbucks and examines the organization's origins, personalities, economics, sociology, growth and expansion, corporate culture, international cultures, and local cultures. The book also sheds light on the internal dynamics and demographics of Starbucks stores in the US.

As a social scientist, I was intrigued by references to Starbucks as a "Third Place" between home and work. I tend to think of the "Third Place or Space" as civil society where people come together to effect change or discuss alternative solutions to various problems created by the other two places: business and government. But I can see how Starbucks indeed provides that place. Oftentimes the second floor of my neighborhood Starbucks is occupied by a non-profit group holding a meeting! Starbucks is clearly more than coffee and Kim uppacks this for the reader in an enjoyable and thought-provoking way.
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