New campus coffee shops a first step toward fair trade certification

student draws coffee from a carafeFirst-year business major Kyra Wardell draws herself a cup of Colombian from a carafe at the Toldo Bru.

As excited as he is about opening two locations on campus to serve fair trade coffees and teas, it’s only a beginning, says Dave McEwen, Food Services department head.

The new product line—Brown Gold organic, fair trade coffee and loose leaf teas—is served in the Leddy Library’s coffee shop and the outlet in the Toldo Health Education Centre.

“We are getting really good feedback from our customers,” McEwen says. “They enjoy the great taste of these products and appreciate that there is a social element, too.”

He says he plans to ramp up offerings campus-wide to earn it certification from Fairtrade Canada. McEwen was inspired this summer when he met the organization’s executive director at a conference of campus food services.

“There is a growing awareness of these issues: environmental, social and economic,” he says. “No one wants to be a part of the exploitation of the producers in developing countries.”

Fair trade holds suppliers to a set of criteria that include labour standards, sustainable farming practices, and democratic governance structures. Although his department has met with varying success in its previous attempts to sell fair trade products, McEwen believes that his clientele is ready to support a greater commitment.

“Times have changed and public awareness is higher,” he says. “Larger companies have joined this market, making more products available now.”

Each of the Brown Gold locations serves four different styles of coffee each day, and brews loose leaf teas in recyclable K-Cups. They also offer blender drinks and Marley Coffee’s ethically farmed artisanal roasts.