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Monday, March 24, 2008

Organic Coffee in Colleges

Here is a great story about organic going mainstream. We have always been advocates of organic coffee. But now even college students are asking for a more eco-friendly java.

Chartwells switches to organic coffee
By: Lana Groves

Issue date: 3/24/08 Section: News
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In response to student demand for organic coffee, Chartwells is now serving Caffe Ibis, an eco-friendly coffee blend produced by a Utah coffee roasting company.

In exchange for the organic brew, students and faculty will have to pay an extra 10 to 15 cents when they buy a cup of coffee in the Union food court.

"We conducted surveys in the (Marriot) Library that showed that students prefer Caffe Ibis to other brands -- it's a very popular coffee right now," said Marco Velasquez, director of retail operations for Chartwells.

The survey's respondents also said the taste of coffee is more important than price.

The coffee will be freshly ground every day by Chartwells staff . The Caffe Ibis blend is currently available only in the Union food court but could later be offered at other locations on campus.

Caffe Ibis is also a Fair Trade certified coffee. Velasquez said the label means that workers in Central America and Africa who grow the beans are not mistreated or poorly paid.

"It's not as big of a problem as it used to be, but we're glad to be using a coffee that is Fair Trade certified," he said.

The coffee replaced the Ritazza brand, which is owned by the same corporation as Chartwells.

Caffe Ibis also uses eco-friendly packing to deliver its coffee. The company uses cups made out of a sugar cane fiber and delivers the coffee in biodegradable bags. Velasquez said Chartwells threw away more than 30,000 foil bags every year when it bought Ritazza's coffee..

"Our main focus is serving our customers, but we happen to like the taste of the coffee and thought that we should move forward in a green way," said Reggie Connerly, the Chartwells' resident district manager who oversaw the switch to Caffe Ibis.

The new beverage was introduced last Thursday while students were away for Spring Break. The previous coffee, Ritazza, is still available at the Heritage Center and the library.

"We're not sure if we're going to keep Ritazza available in parts of campus or get rid of it entirely," Velasquez said. "We need to get student feedback toward the coffee first."

Chartwells will send out surveys in a month to see if students and staff prefer Caffe Ibis.

Velasquez is confident that students, staff and faculty on campus will support the change.

"We were mandated to use Ritazza, but if our customers want something else, we don't mind breaking the rules," he said.

Connerly said he's excited about the switch and is planning to have some of the coffee on Monday.

Caffe Ibis is already served at the Coffee Garden, a coffee shop on 9th East and 9th South that students go to, Velasquez said.


l.groves@chronicle.utah.edu

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