Sunday, October 19, 2008

Who knew?

I’d like to share with you my recent communication with Starbucks – I’m very interested in your opinion once you read my letter to them and their response, both printed below.

It was my brother Pedro who alerted me to this situation.

Dear Starbucks,

I read with tremendous concern the controversy surrounding your excessive water use in the British daily The Sun published this past October 6.


Rather than believing what I read in the paper, I want to ask you directly if it's true that it's corporate policy to keep the tap open with the water running.

The global water expenditure of such a policy is estimated at 23.4 million liters of water a day. Millions of families in the world survive with less than 20 liters a day.

If this is true, you could fill an Olympic swimming pool with clean, potable water every 83 minutes. 

Surely you can keep utensils clean with less water than this.

If all these allegations are true, please promise me, an avid Starbucks user, that you will abandon the corporate policy I am referring to in every Starbucks in the world, not just in the UK.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dushka Zapata

Hello Dushka,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company. We appreciate your writing to us with your concerns about the amount of water used in our stores by the dipper well system. 

We recognize that the amount of water used by the dipper well system is unacceptable and we have been working since 2007 to find a solution that balances the urgent need for water conservation with the critical need for customer safety. Recently, our customers have urged us to expedite this process. This feedback has prompted us to redouble our efforts to find an alternative method and we are committed to finding a safe alternative to the dipper well for all our markets worldwide. 

As a result, we are launching additional and expanded tests in markets around the globe. Over the coming weeks, tests will take place in the U.S., the U.K., China, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand with the goal of identifying and implementing a global solution that is proven safe for our customers, complies with regulations and effective at conserving water.

Single Use Spoon Test- Starbucks locations in China, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia will begin (or have been) testing a single use spoon procedure as an alternative to the dipper well system. This procedure involves using a spoon once and setting it aside for later cleaning and sanitation during dish washing.

Verisimo Rinse Test- Effective Friday, October 10, Starbucks locations in UK will be testing a hot rinse procedure as an alternative to the dipper well system. This procedure involves using a spoon once and rinsing it with hot water immediately after use.

U.S. Tests- Effective Tuesday, October 14, Starbucks locations in the U.S. will be testing several alternatives to the dipper well system, including the self-draining container procedure, which involves intermittent rinsing of spoons after use and then storing them in a draining container and sanitizing; and the dedicated spoon procedure, where spoons stay in the pitcher of just hot milk or soy, and are rinsed and sanitized in the same way as our pitchers.

 Each of these tests has the potential to reduce our overall water use associated with dipperwells while maintaining our standards for customer safety. We are committed to phasing in new practices as they are proven safe and effective and hope to do so in the very near term.

We do place a high priority on water conservation, and you may be interested to know that we actually have several other ways that we are currently conserving water in our stores, including:

Installing high-pressure and temperature dishwashers to clean dishes quickly; Installing aerating spray nozzles in our sinks that reduce water consumption; Using rinsers with blasts of higher pressure water to clean pitchers instead of a long, constant stream from the tap; Reprogramming espresso machines to dispense less water during each rinse cycle of the shot glasses; and Testing in stores to evaluate the latest technologies designed to reduce energy and water use.

We continue to routinely re-evaluate our equipment, store design and training opportunities to reduce our overall water use with the goal of ultimately reducing our environmental footprint. In fact, our overall water use per square foot decreased this year.

Thank you again for contacting us. We appreciate your comments and thank you for being a customer. If you have any further comments please email us email us via or call (800) 23-LATTE (52883) to speak with a customer relations representative.

Warm Regards,

Starbucks Coffee Company


David said...

Dear Dushka,

We have decided to switch off the tap when we're not using it in our stores.

lots of love,


(Wouldn't that be a hell of a lot easier?)

Just78 said...

83 minutes? Olympic swimming pool? That's just disgusting... Someone should just blow their pipelines so than can make do without water at all...

It's astonishing that Starbucks even has the face to reply to a message like that.

Sorry, In my opinion, the Earth's natural resources should be cherished and we should be thankful for the water that we have. There are people out there who have to walk kilometers to get to a well. The Wheel was a good idea, Starbucks was not...

Dusty said...

It never ceases to amaze me.
First off David, you ask for a reponse and they give you a phenomenal one but now you complain its too much. What did you want, a one line response....Really?! I doubt it.

Then there's just78 (who like so many others has to completely hide his identity behind nummbers).
I don't know what country you live in but here in North America water doesn't magically disappear forever once it goes down the drain.

Good on Starbucks for owning it and realizing they need to fix it.