Invested Journalist Talks Coffee

A Seattle based chain of ‘Starbucks’ coffee underwent a financial struggle that had set the company’s plans for development back by five years. An Investigative reporter finds the truth on the matter based off early hunches.

Melissa Allison, journalist of the Seattle Times, was given permission by her newspaper to go investigate overseas in order to search for reasons why ‘Starbucks’  franchise had been unable to build new coffee shops in India. Local ‘Starbucks’ representatives had promised new coffee houses in 2006, but the first ‘Starbucks’ was not built until October of last year. “At the time, there was all this speculation that their application with the Indian government had fallen through,” Allison claimed, “or they had a partner they didn’t like.” Allison began her research in India by interviewing the local coffee growers and workers there. She asked them questions about their living conditions, in order to gain insight on farm production and the overall demand for coffee in India. Since the majority of American coffee comes from Latin America, Allison suspected that ‘Starbucks’ must have found difficulties while pursuing their project due to the Indian plantation’s poverty, and lack of coffee bean imports. Allison also made calls to Indian Plantation owners, and it was around that time that she realized the problem arrived not from the plantation’s poverty, but the poverty from the franchise itself. ” Now we know that it’s because they hit a financial speed bump and they pulled back on their US stores.” said Allison. Allison was also given a 15,000 grant from the International Foundation of Seattle for her story on the ‘Starbucks’ chain. which not only paid for Allison’s trip, but also allowed the ‘Times’ to add new columns such as “The Seattle Globalist”. Jim Simon, assistant managing editor for the Seattle Times, stated “This is the first time we ever received a grant for a broad area of coverage,” then added, “They give us very broad parameters for the types of stories we want to run.”

Allison’s story was a great achievement for her local newspaper as well as newpapers everywhere, but what if Allison never found her story? Would it be worth the risk for a journalist to make expenses in order to pursue international and better news? How far would you have gone compared to Allison’s investigative reporting, and would you have gone to the same places?


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