Dining Services is searching for a company to help St. Thomas students get their caffeine fixes on campus because the university’s contract with Starbucks expired in January.
Director of Dining Services Todd Empanger said the university has been negotiating with Starbucks for seven years and is considering renewing its contact, but is also looking at other options.
Empanger said Dining Services has interviewed Caribou Coffee, Peace Coffee and Tiny Footprint, a local organic coffee company, since some students are pushing for more organic options.
Project coordinator for Students for Justice and Peace sophomore Chris Allan said he and the club hope Peace Coffee, an organic and fair trade coffee company, will become St. Thomas’ next vendor.
“I really love (Peace Coffee’s) commitment to community,” Allan said. “It forms a very direct and long-term relationship with everyone it provides to. Along with that, it’s very environmentally friendly.”
Empanger said he likes Peace Coffee, but both the school and the company are worried the company wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand or provide the necessary equipment.
“The companies we use provide all of the equipment that we have except for the espresso machines,” Empanger said. “It’s a big investment.”
Empanger also said Peace Coffee would prefer a five-year contract, but that Dining Services is only willing to commit to two years at a time.
Allan said Students for Justice and Peace came up with a different approach to make Peace Coffee a better option.
“What we suggested is if Peace Coffee can’t keep up with the volume, then maybe we can have a dual contract kind of thing,” Allan said.
Senior Phillip Brede said he would like to see more organic coffee, but Peace Coffee isn’t on his list.
“I know Peace Coffee is better, but typically I think it’s more of a pomp and circumstance brand,” Brede said. “I would hope that proper research would be done and not just picks of good brands and branding.”
Junior Becca Knight disagreed.
“I really generally only get my coffee from Starbucks or Caribou. When I’m on campus it’s Coffee Bené, so I wouldn’t really know about a more local one,” Knight said. “Caribou, that’s my favorite; so maybe if Caribou were to come here, I would use its coffee.”
Empanger said there is no front runner, but the decision will be made sometime this summer.
“I’m considering having one (location) of Peace Coffee in here,” Empanger said. “I just don’t know which location to put them in until I get all the companies on one page to understand where they want to go or what they expect from us.”
Grace Pastoor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.