The Rice Thresher


November 18, 2005 > News > Coffeehouse debuts organic coffee brand

Coffeehouse debuts organic coffee brand

Coffeehouse patrons can now get their caffeine fix while supporting fair prices for coffee farmers and organic growth.

On Wednesday, the Coffeehouse began serving organically grown and fair-trade-certified coffee from Katz Coffee — a Houston-based roaster — which also supplies area farmers’ markets and restaurants such as Empire Cafe and Mi Luna, Coffeehouse Public Relations Manager Mara Courtney said. Courtney, a Baker College sophomore, said the new brand costs the same amount as the old brand, so the prices of drinks will not change.

Fair-trade-certified coffee guarantees coffee farmers are paid a fair base price for their produce, and the organic growth helps preserve bird habitats by growing plants under shade trees, Courtney said.

“We think [the coffee] tastes better, and we believe in the fair trade mission,” Courtney said. “There are still some kinks in the program, but we all agree that [fair trade is] something important enough to be a part of.”

Coffeehouse Small Inventory Manager Katie Stephens said the new coffee comes in different flavors and from different countries, and it will be served on a rotating basis.

Stephens, a Jones College senior, said the Coffeehouse staff first thought about changing coffee brands when Center for the Study of Environment and Society Coordinator Elizabeth Stephens (Will Rice ‘05) contacted the managers about two months ago. Katie and Elizabeth Stephens are not related.

Katie Stephens said Elizabeth Stephens’ proposal about switching to free-trade organic coffee and the managers’ desire to provide a better product prompted their decision to change suppliers.

“We’ve always thought we could improve our coffee,” Katie Stephens said. “People were saying our coffee tasted like crap, but they drank it anyway.”

Courtney said Coffeehouse managers visited various local roasters before making the decision to switch suppliers last week. They chose Avi Katz, the owner of Katz Coffee, because of his enthusiasm for fair trade and his expertise in coffee, Courtney said.

Courtney said the Coffeehouse will continue to improve the taste of its coffee. The managers are currently working with Katz to improve their coffee-making procedures and machine maintenance.

In other Coffeehouse changes, the managers have announced a contest to design a mural for the service counter’s wall, which was painted blue during recent renovations. The contest is aimed at encouraging student involvement, Courtney said.

Entries, which will be judged by Coffeehouse managers and Student Center directors, are due Nov. 28. Managers hope to have a completed mural in place by Spring 2006. As of Tuesday, no entries had been submitted.

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