By Alison Northcott
Construction has started on a Starbucks Coffee kiosk on campus, and a group of students has started their campaign to get the coffee giant to offer a fair trade brew on campus.
The difference between fair trade coffee and regular coffee is that fair trade coffee is purchased at a fairer market price, meaning farmers growing the beans are paid more money for their crops.
This is a cause the RyeSAC Initiative for Sustainability and the Environment, a project of RyeSAC’s Health and Safety Committee, has been committed to for several months.
The group has been talking with John Corallo, director of ancillary services at Ryerson, about getting Aramark, Ryerson’s primary food-service provider, to start offering fair trade coffee on campus.
RISE presented a policy to Corallo last spring, modelled after similar policies that exist at York University and McMaster University, which ensure fair trade coffee is an option at on-campus coffee kiosks.
“It’s an important initiative,” said RISE member, Ram Sivapalan, “because with fair trade coffee, the farmers do get paid properly.”
Sivapalan said Corallo’s response to the proposed policy has been encouraging. “He was willing to work with it.” But so far, nothing has been set, as Corallo is still in talks with Aramark.
“It’s still to be confirmed,” Sivapalan said, “but we were told we should be seeing [fair trade coffee] on campus in September, but it’s not 100 per cent sure.”
RISE is hoping to see the fair trade beans brewed at Ryerson’s two Java Stop locations: In the business building, and at the Hub cafeteria in Jorgenson Hall.
Aramark offers fair trade coffee at other universities in Canada, like the University of Manitoba. Starbucks offers fair trade coffee at most of their corporate or stand-alone locations in Canada.
A Starbucks representative said, for a slightly higher price, a customer can ask their barista at any of these stand-alone stores to French press them a single cup of fair trade coffee.
But kiosk locations, like the one set to open at Ryerson, don’t always offer the same services.
Although Sivapalan hasn’t had the best luck getting his cup of fair trade from Starbucks (he said last month he went to several different locations before he got a barista to reluctantly brew him his coffee), he is confident that, if students demand it, the coffee provider will be responsive.
“If we push for it, I think Starbucks will offer it,” he said. “It’s just another initiative for us to work on.”