We are firmly immersed in Oscar silly season once again with the fuss about nothing intensifying because of the strong British contingent amongst the list of nominees.

Missing from the 2007 list, however, is one film that is certainly causing quite a stir among audiences.

Black Gold will not come to British cinemas until April, but when it does arrive it could change your coffee drinking habits forever (http://www.blackgoldmovie.com).

It has already prompted a PR blitz by Starbucks, a main focus for the documentary about Ethiopia’s coffee growers.

But a special viewing for MPs at the House of Commons today is likely to prompt further discomfort for the ubiquitous High Street coffee house chain, plus many of the other big names capitalising on Britain’s current love affair with cappuccino, latte, mocha and numerous other variations.

The film provides some fairly stark and shocking figures. One of the most telling claims is that whereas Ethiopia’s growers receive $1.10 per pound of coffee, by the time it goes along a short but lucrative chain, the retailers are likely to make $160 from that same pound of coffee (http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,2000786,00.html).

Starbucks hasissued a detailed rebuttal of many of the points raised in the film, even going as far as releasing a video presentation on YouTube (http://www.starbucks.com/aboutus/pressdesc.asp?id=738).

Little wonder that it has mounted such a rigorous charm offensive. As the value of black gold continues to rise, so do the stakes for the major players.


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