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No bucks for You! Be part of the Mission

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In March investment banker Tom Strobhar stood up at the annual shareholders meeting at Starbucks to ask a question of CEO Howard Schulz. 'In the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing,'”

"We want to embrace diversity - of all kinds. If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it's a free country. You can sell your shares at Starbucks and buy shares at another company. Thank you very much." The exchange can be seen in the accompanying video to Wednesday's Denver Media and Culture examiner column.

Starbucks mission of diversity cause

An agitated Schulz seems to not care about boycotts in making social and political statements. While championing the "civil rights" of Starbucks diverse workforce, Schulz is willing to alienate a good portion of Satrbuck's customer base. Brett Bixler of Mission Coffee Roasters based in Colorado Springs and who has been instrumental in starting cafes in churches is more than happy to welcome any of the former Starbucks customers who Schulz doesn't want. "Our name is Mission Coffee Roasters for a reason," Bixler told me, "Really good coffee with a mission, is more than a branding statement, it is indeed what we want our guests to experience." Bixler's coffee goes a long way to support Christian causes, through fund raising and consulting churches to be the best cafes in their communities. Better then Starbucks? "We roast great coffee and we treat people right, that's the business model." Bixler is constantly telling his Baristas to "make it right" when there is a question from a guest. Yet it is the freshness and quality of the roast and each cup that is getting people's attention in Colorado Springs. Instead of boycotting Starbucks because of their stance against traditional marriage why not start a "Church coffee, at your church?" You get a better product, align with causes you believe in and join in the fellowship."

The media's handling of the Starbucks meltdown

The media has reported the Howard Schulz issues stance by trying to vilify Strobhar. The gay blog, "The slowly boiling frog" reports, "Mr. Strobhar, who probably owns all of one share, intimated the threat of a boycott" which was not the case. "Strobhar's question was embarrassingly greeted with the applause generated by two or three people," the blogger judges from the video. Strobhar's action website Corporatemorality.org quotes him as saying, "Unfortunately for Starbucks and their shareholders, in the first full three month reporting period since the annual meeting, Starbucks’ earnings, while strongly positive, came in below analysts’ estimates and even below Starbucks’ own guidance. This last point being perhaps the most concerning factor – it suggested Starbucks was unaware of the problem. The stock declined over 10% after the announcement (of supporting gay marriage), giving Starbucks its worst one-day loss in over a decade."

"The only statement we need to make"

In Colorado Springs, Bixler has made his cafe into a community center. "There are people who have studies upstairs, ministry meetings and a lot of people who use our facility all week long and all have felt welcomed. "The fact that we roast fresh and can ship anywhere in the world while serving our guests in the cafe is the only statement that we need to make. The rest of it is just treating people the way they would like to be treated with quality, value and care." Throughout the years Bixler has supported Christian Film Festivals, The Daily Audio Bible and Compassion International without a lot of fanfare or bravado. Mission has added jobs and a viable export business, supported Fair Trade Coffee Farmers, while concentrating on providing the best experience for the community. "Every church could reach out to their communities by starting a cafe that goes far beyond the effort that Starbucks makes in serving the communities they have shops in," says a Mission customer. Outreach is a much louder statement than a boycott-and it could cause a quality breakthrough of Vente' proportions.

If you would like to start a cafe at your church or ministry or if you would like to try Mission Coffee for your existing church cafe, please e-mail missioncoffee@juno.com, or order coffee and supplies at http://www.churchcoffee.com/.

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