By Erika Drake
McConn Coffee Co. is an experience that nearly every Indiana Wesleyan University student has had. Walking around campus, coffee cups can be seen in hundreds of students’ hands, but how many students know where that coffee came from?
Too often, well-known coffee companies are discovered with connections to the use of child slave labor.
Gary Goldstein of the National Coffee Association, which represents the companies that make Folgers, Maxwell House and Nescafe, among other brands, said, “This industry isn’t responsible for what happens in a foreign country,” according to EarthSave International.
Dillanos Coffee Roasters – McConn’s roasting source – is devoted to using ethical methods of supplying coffee beans. Although some coffee companies have suppliers that connect to child slavery, Purchasing Manager Perry Krause (sr) said McConn is conscious of every company with which is does business.
Last year, McConn switched roasting companies due to larger demands for coffee at IWU, as McConn is the second largest coffee shop in Indiana as far as revenues in a single location, according to Krause. He also said Dillanos was chosen based on its number of quality options and use of fair trade coffee.
Krause said he thinks students at IWU are more aware of child slavery within the coffee industry than other college campuses due to chapels and events held to raise awareness of injustices in the world. He thinks students could become more aware on the specifics of the coffee industry’s involvement with child slave labor, so they can know which brands to buy in the store.
“If you don’t know the difference between the quality of coffee, you just buy the brand you know. The brands that have, in business we say, ‘share of mind,’” Krause said. “You look for stuff you know and obviously you won’t find Dillanos in a convenient store.”
One way students can be sure they are buying ethically-made coffee is to look for the fair trade certification label on the brands. At Walmart, fair trade certified brands include Starbucks Coffee Company and Great Value coffee. At Meijer, Starbucks Coffee Company, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Reunion Island Coffee make the list.
Dillanos often goes above and beyond the call of a typical coffee company when it comes to the treatment and care of their coffee bean farmers, according to Krause. McConn is partnering with Dillanos to promote its efforts.
One way McConn hopes to support them is by using Dillanos’ One Harvest project on table tents. The project is committed to the well-being of its importing and exporting partners by offering unique educational opportunities, health benefits and environmental projects, according to Dillanos’ website.
Krause hopes that next fall, McConn will have table tents that depict the process of how the products they use are yielded. This will provide students with an idea of all the aspects and steps involved in getting them the beverages they consume almost every day.
Educating customers is a fairly new marketing scheme and it’s very difficult, according to Krause, but he said McConn has been working on it and is looking forward to implementing it at IWU.
“Being students, we like to be on the cutting edge, but you don’t want to do something and not give it your all and not know a lot about it,” Krause said, alluding to the new marketing endeavors.
In the future, Krause hopes student groups and organizations can use McConn’s contacts to help host an event that raises awareness on child slavery in the coffee industry.