Local Coffeehouses Deserve Support

The coffee tastes burnt. Every blend is acidic. We’re all drinking from an international coffee shop seemingly on every street corner claiming to be a specialty.

Being on a meal plan and having Starbucks as my most convenient option here at California Lutheran University, I perpetuate this phenomenon daily.

I have come to support local coffeehouses and roasters for their quality, experience and connection to the community.

Judy Corralejo, co-owner of It’s A Grind in Moorpark which is a local branch of a small franchise with 13 total locations, said that even though her business cannot compete with the Starbucks of the world, it has a way of bringing people back.

“We have to give people a reason to want to come here instead of Starbucks and we do that by the quality of our customer service and the quality of our product,” Corralejo said.

Sitting in the shop for about 45 minutes, I saw customer after customer that Corralejo and her husband knew by name. They would personally bring customers their food and drinks. One little girl stopping at It’s a Grind with her mom on their regular route to school immediately came over to give Corralejo a hug.

Starbucks will never truly have a human-centered operation where guests are treated as they would be in a home.

Corralejo said she has attended her customer’s son’s water polo game, sold local people’s products in the store, donated coffee to games and events and even gave 30 percent off discounts for churches and schools.

One of the largest marketing tactics imposed by Starbucks in order to foster positivity among its clients is to promote its ethical, sustainable practices, particularly in being Fair Trade Certified. You will see pictures in Starbucks stores of coffee bean farmers in places such as South America, creating the appearance that the obviously wealthy company is pro-laborer.

In his article “Fair Trade Beans do not Mean a Cup of Coffee is Entirely Ethical,” Dan Welch of The Guardian reported that only 30 percent of the beans roasted have to be Fair Trade Certified for the product to qualify. These items are then sold at a price slightly above normal market value to ensure better incomes for farmers.

Starbucks may even grant their card members occasional free drinks but it’s only after spending a ridiculous amount of money for sub-par coffee.

Furthermore, because I have not used my rewards card in some time, I am receiving emails with the threat of losing my gold member status, something that I will proudly shed.

I received that membership only because Starbucks is convenient. Stepping away from a little bit of convenience can bring real rewards, not star rewards.

“When you consider how many small businesses surround you in your everyday lives, it is impressive to think about the amount of time, commitment and labor these hard working individuals contribute to make their businesses both come to life and stay alive,” Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle said in her Forbes article “Why You Need to Support Small Businesses.”

Supporting a locally owned spot such as It’s a Grind turns to a chain of supporting other businesses and people in the community, such as the local bakery in Los Angeles that It’s a Grind gets its baked goods from daily, or the artists featured on the “Local Artist’s Corner” in the shop.

Cal Lutheran students are lucky to be surrounded by many local places, one being Ragamuffin Coffee Roasters, which is a very short drive from campus.

Whether you go for aesthetic photos, a study spot that might actually have a table available, or for fresh coffee that does not taste burnt, be conscientious of what your cup says. Starbucks is okay, but it will ever feel like home.

Dakota Allen
Staff Writer