Trade: The Coffee Clash

Many firms see a marketing advantage in selling politically correct beans. Will Starbucks get hurt?

In a corner of a dilapidated brick coffee mill, Lindsey Bolger is deep in concentration. Outside the window, the lush cloud forest of Mexico's Veracruz state stretches to a blue-green horizon, and hummingbirds dip into the wild hibiscus. The American, 40, closes her eyes, bending over a row of 12 white cups on a round metal table. Each contains coffee from the new harvest, toasted at 400ºF in a small roaster on the counter. Bolger shakes each cup and sniffs deeply. "I'm looking for defects," she says. "Underripe beans, overripe beans, sour flavors, mold. If even one bean out of 60...

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