ISU Dining carries fair trade coffee

ISU Dining Assistant Director for Retail Kristi Patel said having vegan or vegetarian concepts for students is a focus for ISU Dining.

Matthew Nosco

Dead Week and Finals Week are right around the corner, and with them will come increased coffee consumption across campus. As students prepare to pay for their cup of joe, many of them will unknowingly be supporting better wages and living conditions for producers in developing countries as they purchase the fair trade coffee offered by ISU Dining. defines fair trade as an alternative approach to conventional trading that relies on a partnership between producers and consumers. Producers receive a better deal for their products, allowing for improved wages and quality of life. Fair trade standards also are designed to protect and benefit the employees of producers, guaranteeing them the right to join trade unions, safe health standards and adequate housing where relevant.

Kristi Patel, assistant director of campus dining services, said that ISU Dining chooses to support fair trade offerings due to customer demand, more availability of fair trade products and the fact that fair trade products follow and endorse good social and environmental standards.

Nancy Levandowski, director of campus dining services, said the move to incorporate fair trade products into their selection was pushed in part by ActivUs several years ago.

According to its website, ActivUs is a student organization on campus that is committed to achieving environmental and social justice on the ISU campus for both current and future generations. In recent years, the group has advocated for the removal of plastic water bottles from Dining Services’ stores and has sought a commitment to reduce and eliminate coal power at Iowa State.

ISU Dining purchases some of its fair trade products from the Roasterie, which was founded in 1993 by Danny O’Neill. According the company’s website, O’Neill discovered his love for coffee during his student exchange in Costa Rica in 1978 when he picked his first batch of coffee.

The Roasterie doesn’t only take part in fair trade, it advocates for other sustainability initiatives such as Rainforest Alliance, Organic, Smithsonian Bird Friendly certifications and more. It also has committed to paying at least 30 percent over fair trade prices when purchasing their beans.

ISU Dining carries fair trade coffee and espresso by the Roasterie at the Bookends, Business, Courtyard, Gentle Doctor and the Memorial Union Market cafes. These locations also sell Numi Teas, which have half of their tea blends and 80 percent of their raw ingredients fair-trade certified. In addition, the MU Market and Cafe carries Alto Eco Chocolates and Steaz Energy.