Campus Coffee

As the days begin to get colder and the mornings increasingly darker, a steaming cup of coffee is perfect for keeping warm and alert throughout the day. Due to a University of Rochester Dining Services initiative, the coffee sold on campus includes options that are sustainable and eco-friendly as well as warm and delicious.

The initiative to implement a more sustainable coffee selection on campus began in 2004. “We wanted to expand our coffee program to be more diverse, so we began exploring many different local vendors.” Unit Marketing Manager at Dining Services Kevin Aubrey explained.

Dining Services researched and met with many local merchants, and then incorporated their products into campus cafes to offer a wide variety of locally roasted coffees. Hillside Market and Eastman Dining Center carry Joe Bean coffee, a company that focuses on artisanal brewing. Pura Vida supports global causes selling fair-trade organic coffee, and The Buzz sells the popular brand Finger Lakes Coffee, which is also available in two locations of the URMC. Carrying this array of products provides environmental benefits while supporting local New York businesses.

Two of the University’s vendors have particularly unique stories. The first is McCullagh Coffee which sells a product called EcoVerde. The University began carrying EcoVerde coffee when Danforth Dining Center was remodeled in 2011, and it is now carried in both Danforth and Douglass Dining Centers. McCullagh Coffee is exceptionally sustainability conscious. Their coffee is sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified Coffee plantations that meet Sustainable Agriculture Network standards. The packaging is completely compostable and uses a soy-based ink. To deliver their coffee, the company uses fuel-efficient vans that require less gasoline and plans delivery routes to minimize miles driven on a daily basis. At their production center they installed energy efficient lighting, paint with low emission products, and buy locally whenever they can. To learn more about EcoVerde, click here. By supporting EcoVerde coffee and the company’s mission of sustainability, the University of Rochester is also demonstrating a commitment to eco-friendly practices.

Another sustainable accomplishment at the University is Connections Café, which was designed as an environmentally friendly establishment from beginning to end. The counters and floors are made from recycled materials, ceiling fans cool the space, and all of their products highlight local merchants. In particular, the café’s coffee supplier is the Coffee Connection, an organization that sells fair trade organic coffee and employs women recovering from addiction and trauma. The company provides support and helps these women make a sustainable recovery. To learn more about this powerful organization click here. In more ways than one, Connections is a unique and sustainable café the campus is proud to operate.

In a multitude of ways, Dining Services has made coffee on campus remarkably sustainable. “With over 40% of our total purchases on campus coming from local sources, we’re very proud of our local and sustainable efforts across the board. The coffee program we’ve instituted truly mirrors that effort,” Aubrey shared.

By Abigail Fagan, Class of 2014

6 Replies to “Campus Coffee”

  1. I think it’s a great idea to make use of the local coffee vendors in the community; especially a company like Coffee Connection. We all want to enjoy out cups of coffee but I think it tastes a little bit better knowing that part of the proceeds are being invested back into the community. Keep up the good work.

  2. Hi Abigail,

    I have some follow-up questions based on your response:

    1. If fair trade coffee is produced by workers who are paid higher wages than they otherwise would receive (i.e. they receive higher wages than non-fair trade coffee producers), where are those higher wages coming from? In other words, how is it that these workers are able to be paid higher wages?

    2. What do farmers who minimize the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers give up by making that decision? If this decision were only a gain, then everyone would choose to grow organic, but since everyone is not, what is the loss by making the decision to minimize the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers?

    3. In what ways exactly are pesticides and chemical fertilizers bad for the environment?

    4. Can you please define for me ecological balance?

    I look forward to your response. Thank you.

    Michael Dymond

  3. Hi Michael,

    Thank you for your response! To address your questions,

    1. Fair trade coffee means coffee that has a certification ensuring workers producing the coffee are receiving adequate compensation for their labor in developing nations. For the organization’s website go to: Organic is when food is produced under conditions that promote ecological balance and minimize pesticides and chemical fertilizers. For the United State’s Department of Agriculture’s definition, see: Fair trade organic coffee, therefore, is coffee produced under both of these conditions.
    2. Fair trade organic coffee is environmentally friendly for two reasons. The first is that by abstaining from chemicals that are harmful to nature the environment is kept in a healthier state, which makes the process more sustainable. The second is that by ensuring farmers and workers producing the coffee are being paid fairly, those individuals have a lifestyle they are able to sustain.
    3. The answer above provides theoretical proof that fair trade organic coffee is environmentally friendly. In terms of empirical proof, there are testimonials regarding the positive impact of the practice (to read impact reports go to, although conclusive studies on the subject are still limited.

    These methods are not flawless, but they’re a good place to start.


  4. Hi,

    Can the author of this blog post, or another contributor to this blog, please provide the following information:

    1. What does “fair trade organic” coffee mean in plain and simple terms?
    2. In what ways is “fair trade organic” coffee environmentally friendly?
    3. Either theoretical or empirical proof that the “fair trade organic” coffee is indeed environmentally friendly.

    I look forward to your response. Thank you.

    Michael Dymond

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