As of Feb. 27, Books & Bytes Café in Milne Library has been selling freshly brewed, Certified Organic coffee imported from Nicaragua. Available to students for the same price as the Finger Lakes brew, this coffee represents the relationship between Geneseo and Nicaraguan towns like El Sauce and Ocotal. The project originated with the Geneseo Global Service Learning program in El Sauce, where students developed a personal relationship with the economically disadvantaged community. Collaborating with Rochester’s coffee guru Joe Palozzi, owner of Java’s Café, Books & Bytes was able to purchase 30 pounds of imported Nicaraguan coffee directly traded with Ocotal farmers.
Palozzi uses direct trade when purchasing his coffee abroad, as opposed to other fair trade opportunities, eliminating the “middle man” factor and ultimately getting the farmers who harvest the beans the most money. He has personally traveled to Nicaragua on four separate occasions, working with these farmers to develop the program now implemented at his cafe and in Geneseo.
Campus Auxiliary Services is also instrumental in incorporating these changes in the Geneseo’s own cafes. Director of Culinary Operations and Executive Chef Jonna Anne worked closely with students involved in the service learning program and others in order to successfully implement and promote this project.
“This coffee is important because it is direct trade, it is shade-grown and it is organic, which makes it special,” Marketing Coordinator for CAS Rebecca Stewart said. “It is important because it helps support the farmers in Ocotal.”
The coffee is currently exclusively sold at Books & Bytes, but CAS wishes to expand their work with fair trade. This includes striving toward becoming a fair trade-certified university.
“We are very excited to be able to initiate this in support of the service learning program and in support of the farmers,” Stewart said.
CAS mainly focuses on local vendors for food and beverages, but incorporating fair trade when purchasing items not grown locally, like coffee and tea, has also become a focus. CAS has managed to keep cooperative relationships with both these vendors and those abroad.
“One of the things that we’re very excited about is our relationship with Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters, which does a great job in keeping our other relationships in mind. It’s their machinery we use for the imports,” Stewart said.
Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters is Geneseo’s retailer for freshly brewed coffee, providing all other flavor options. Having their support for the Nicaraguan coffee has been essential in the program’s installation.
The CAS community is eager to hear more student responses about their imported goods and welcomes feedback.