Category Archives: Applied Politics

Second Cup isn’t Fair Trade

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Second Cup started sporting a Fair Trade logo on their signage. Being the kind of person that thinks people should be paid a reasonable wage, and knowing that coffee workers can be treated like serfs, I started stopping by Second Cup to grab the occasional cup of java. Then I started wondering. When I order myself a caramel corretto®, is it really fairly traded?

So I sent an email to Second Cup’s customer care. Their response was a little disappointing:

Thank you for your email and your interest in the Second Cup. I have included below our Fair Trade Coffee available through Second Cup. Currently this is the only coffee in our series that is certified. Please do refer to our website at to review our selection and how we are making a difference environmentally and socially.

So, even though Second Cup says “24 fairly traded coffees available every day”, they really mean they have one fairly traded coffee.

It’s back to Bridgehead, and their fully fair trade menu for me.


The Web 2.0 dream is to be able to give something away while still making a living on it. That may work for Cory Doctorow, but for most of us, it’s untenable. The only mechanism I’ve seen for paying open source peeps for consumer-grade projects is donations. Paypal and Amazon both provide an ability to donate to a project, as does Pledgie, but I haven’t seen anything that makes donating easy.

Then I found Flattr. It allows donors to give micropayment-style donations to anyone with a web page (and a Flattr account). It makes life easier for donors because they choose how much they will give a month, and that amount is divided amongst their donees.

It isn’t perfect. The Flattr community is pretty sparse, and there’s no way to set a recurring Flattr, but they’re 90% of the way there. It’d be great if Canonical, vim, Parcellite, Google Chrome, kdenlive, and Guake accepted Flattrs.

If you’re looking for an invitation, hit me up with the contact form and I’ll hook you up.