Coffee: whether you drink it or not, it fuels the world. Well that is, if you live in Scandinavia, Western Europe, or North America.
The country with the highest consumption of coffee per capita annually is Finland, coming in at a whopping 12 kilograms of coffee per person. We’re not doing too poorly in Canada either, coming in tenth place with 6.5 kilograms of coffee per person.
Surprisingly, the United States comes in at 25th in the world in coffee consumption. Our long winters and national coffee chain might make Canadians more prone to drinking that warm and energizing beverage than our southern neighbours.
This preference is nation-wide, and with two thirds of Canadian adults drinking at least a cup a day, UNB is no exception. On campus, UNB students and staff have eight different places to buy coffee. These locations include the SUB Tim Hortons, the SUB Campus Shoppe, the Tilley Hall Café, the HIL Café, the Science Library, Head Rest in Head Hall, the Café area in Marshall D’Avray, and the infamous McConnell meal hall. If you’re someone who appreciates convenience and quality, there’s a fair variety for the caffeine addicts out there (myself included!).
Of course, we have to start with the first company that comes to mind when any Canadian thinks of coffee: Tim Hortons.
Tim’s, Timmies, or “that hockey player’s store” reaches every corner of Canada, selling sixty percent of the Canadian coffee market. If you’re in the Student Union Building talking with friends or procrastinating on your latest assignment, you’ll typically see the Tim’s line full all day long.
Tim Hortons coffee is 100% arabica beans. This bean is the most popular in the world, and Tim’s uses four to six different beans in their medium and dark roasts along with a “top secret blend.” To most people, that either means quality assurance against competition, or some ingredients that the public wouldn’t otherwise find palatable.
Tim’s themselves don’t disclose where their beans come from, but they’re typically from Central and South America, some East African countries and Indonesia. While the exact locations can’t always be certain, it’s certainly true that Tim’s does not buy fair trade or organic beans.
Although, in 2005 Tim Hortons launched a Coffee Partnership program which, from their own data, has helped 4000 farmers improve the economic, social, and environmental aspects of their coffee growing. These farmers live in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras, which is most likely where the majority of their beans come from.
Tim’s partners with Sodexo in their SUB location just like all other coffee shops on campus, and while Sodexo quality is highly questionable, they fortunately have a significant number of students on staff.
James Buick, a UNB student employed at the location, said the Tim’s staff “is about a quarter students,” and the personal connections he has made with student employees and familiar student faces on the other side of the counter are very rewarding.
Each coffee location on campus gives a small discount to customers if they bring their own mug or travel mug. At Tim’s you get 10 cents off your purchase, 20 cents off the Campus Shoppe’s Van Houtte coffee, 15 cents off at other locations, and a considerable discount at Head Rest. This is a great way to reduce waste - in 2010 alone, Canadians used approximately 1.5 billion disposable and non recyclable coffee cups.
Head Rest advertises its fair-trade coffee from Full Steam as the most ethical and sustainable on campus, which came to campus through a push from UNB and Engineers Without Borders. The coffee at Head Rest is a testament to the various posters found around Head Hall that state: “Consumers have the power to change the market.”
Other coffee locations on campus are supplied by Sysco Canada through Sodexo, and while the bags of beans say “fair-trade,” this fact is not necessarily advertised.
The HIL Café however, while still being managed and operated by Sodexo, is supplied by Java Moose and is in competition with Full Steam for being known as the best coffee on campus. Co-founders Glen McLean and Randy Pedersen started the company in Saint John in 1995, and the pair supplies the HIL with coffee along with 250 other businesses and organizations.
If supporting local businesses is important to you, buying Java Moose coffee is a way to do so because McLean and Pedersen are proud to manufacture and roast their own coffee. While Java Moose doesn’t explicitly reveal from where they source their beans, they are of course Arabica beans and are grown “by farmers who take great care of their land”, according to BuyLocalNB.
Hopefully coffee lovers on campus will always be able to get that wonderful drink we crave (particularly during these windy, cold Fredericton winters). Great employees like Doreen Crilly in Tilley Hall show that it’s about more than just the coffee: “Everyday I laugh, and I have the best conversations on campus.”