|Campus coffee gets a conscience|
by Irina Oroz
Van Houtte hocks coffee with a cause
“Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and as sweet as love.” Although this Turkish proverb aptly describes the sentiments of many college students, it fails to include one thing. Coffee should be ethical. At least that’s what the folks at Van Houtte Café think. The Montreal-based coffee company is now providing college and university students with “socially and environmentally responsible coffees,” jumping on board with other campus providers, such as the U of R’s Second Cup who peddles Starbucks brand Fair Trade coffee. The Van Houtte coffee is currently available at the U of R’s College Avenue campus.
As of Oct. 26, 2005, the company is launching a new line of fair trade and organic coffees across Canada. “Over the past several years, we’ve noticed that students and schools in this country are demanding a more socially and environmentally responsible alternative to the food and beverages that are being sold in their respective institutions,” said Joseph Audi, Van Houtte’s director of marketing on the company’s website.
So what does this mean for students? Since becoming fair trade certified by TransFair, all of the Van Houtte coffees included in their new line are made with coffee beans purchased only through direct trade with small business owners and cooperatives.
Better yet, the coffee is purchased at a price that aids farmers in sustaining a living wage and all business is “trading conditions that are sustainable for producers as well as buyers.” The company hopes that the stable price at which the coffee is purchased will assist the farmers in maintaining and improving the quality of their product.
Not only is this new line of coffee economically and socially advantageous, it is also environmentally friendly. Most of the coffee is organic and produced using environmentally friendly methods.
Students on campus are enthusiastic about this ethical initiative by another coffee provider.
“Let’s be honest. We need these people for our buzz,” said student Celia Harding Russell. “I don’t mind paying a little bit more for coffee if that means that the workers in third world countries receive the benefits.”
Although the self proclaimed coffee addict is pleased that the company has decided to come out with a line of fair trade coffee, she’s not a Van Houtte enthusiast. “Its good that its moving in that direction from a social point of view” she said. “But I doubt the coffee’s improved, I mean it’s made in a vending machine. You can taste the machine.”
Not many others seem to mind the taste though. Van Houtte has over 75 coffee service branches across North America and serves more than three million cups of coffee every day in major cities all across Canada and the United States.
The new coffees available are Amazonia medium roast, Peru medium roast, Mexican dark roast, 100% Colombia dark roast, decaffeinated medium roast, and crème caramel medium roast. All but the last are both fair trade and organic, with the last one being only fair trade. Now there’s no guilt in being a coffee aficionado!