University of Rochester

'Fair Trade' Coffee Tasting Gives Points to Firms with a Conscience

April 20, 2006

A competitive taste testing of "Fair Trade" coffee by five coffee companies will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday, April 28, in the Hirst Lounge of Wilson Commons on the University of Rochester's River Campus.

But good taste won't be the only criteria for the best coffee chosen.

The winner, based on the results of surveys given to all tasters who want to participate, also will gain points for that company's demonstrated efforts to sell Fair Trade coffee. Coffee representatives and information will be available, and tasters are invited to ask questions.

Starbucks, Java City, Pura Vida, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters will be the national brands competing as well as Women's Coffee Connection, a Rochester nonprofit coffee company. The tasting will continue until 1:30 p.m. From 2 to 3 p.m., a panel discussion will be held nearby in the May Room when issues of Fair Trade in coffee production and sales will be discussed.

Fairly traded coffee and other products are part of international networks that promote equitable prices for small farmers and cooperatives around the globe. The outcome of the tasting event will be a major factor in determining which brand of coffee will be sold and served by Campus Dining Services for the next five years.

The event, which is organized by senior Sam Boyer, the UR Fair Trade Campaign, and Dining Services, is part of Free Trade Week April 24 to 28 in Wilson Commons. Produce and other food items will be featured throughout the week.

"Fewer than 15 campuses in the United States have gone 100% for Fair Trade coffee and that's what we'd like to see here," says Boyer. "Coffee is by far the largest and most available Fair Trade product out there."