What’s in Your Cup? Oxfam America Takes on Starbucks

Authors: Nick Galasso, Barbara Durr, Benjamin Topa

Publication info: Keough School of Global Affairs, March 2022

Full text: Read this case at Curate.nd.edu


Some of the world’s best coffee is grown in Ethiopia, where the livelihoods of 1.5 million small farmers depend on selling their superior beans at a fair price. But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, prices in the global coffee market plummeted. To gain some premium pricing, the Ethiopian government sought to trademark the names of its coffee regions, but the coffee giant Starbucks stood in the way. Oxfam America, the small NGO which was challenging the “rigged rules” of international trade, created its first corporate campaign against Starbucks to press the company to grant Ethiopia and its poor farmers trademarks. The case examines this “David and Goliath” battle.

Recommended citation

Galasso, Nick, Barbara Durr, and Benjamin Topa, What’s in Your Cup? Oxfam America Takes on Starbucks. Keough School of Global Affairs Case Study Series. South Bend, IN: Keough School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame, 2022. https://doi.org/10.7274/cv43nv96d0x