By James Lipsett


Algonquin is taking a step in an eco-friendly direction by using only certified fair trade organic coffee products in their stores, paired with compostable hot beverage cups and a policy that encourages the use of re-useable mugs to cut back on waste.

The label ‘fair trade’ on coffee products presents itself as a mystery to people that aren’t in the know. The main goal behind this is to ensure that a small portion of profits brought in from companies that use fair trade coffee goes directly to the farmers that produce the beans.

Algonquin is one of a few post-secondary schools in Canada that strictly uses fair trade coffee in all of its food serving areas. Reunion Island Coffee, a company out of Toronto provides the school with certified fair trade blends delivered through Imperial Coffee that range in flavor from the simple Columbian roast to Irish cream and French vanilla.

The decision to go with a fair trade product was made as a part of Algonquin’s overall efforts to become one of Canada’s leading environmentally and economically conscious schools. General Manager of Algonquin’s food and beverage operations, Brent Brownlee, went into detail about how the school selected its coffee provider.

“We went through a series of taste tests and compared those to prices and how we could still provide the students with value for their money. Not only does Reunion Island coffee taste good but it’s compostable and organic, along with the fact that it is fair trade certified.”

Reunion Island Coffee is also a Bullfrog powered company, meaning it is fueled by renewable power. Factors such as these do increase the price of the coffee, but the college feels benefits far outweigh the sacrifices.

In further efforts to become more eco-friendly, Algonquin makes a point of using mechanized dairy and sugar dispensers for coffee additions as opposed to individual packets to avoid unnecessary wastage. There is only one food supplying area in the college that uses individual sugar and sweetener packets, the Bits N’ Bytes location in the T Building.

Brownlee states, “This is the only area within the college that does not use a sugar dispenser due to space limitations. We are working on putting in a mechanized dispenser as soon as possible.”

Using packet-free dispensers isn’t the only way that Algonquin is making an effort to be more environmentally conscious. Mara Lowrey, assistant manager of college ancillary services, spoke about another way in which Algonquin is attempting to cut back on waste.

“In our stores that serve coffee, we offer a $0.10 discount for students who wish to use their own coffee mug. This helps to cut back on what’s thrown out.” she said.

Statistically, eight percent of Algonquin’s food and beverage sales come from hot beverages, and approximately 2000 cups of coffee are served per day. The school hopes to improve on these numbers by ramping up promotion of their coffee products.