Going green is becoming a national ethos. Now, Emory students have easy access to reliably organic pick-me-ups.
After a few appearances at last year’s Sustainability Fair, the Green Bean Coffee Cart officially opened for business on Feb. 4 outside the Dobbs University Center. Now permanently located by the Wachovia ATM outside the DUC, the coffee cart provides Fair Trade and organic coffee from 8:00 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, except on Fridays when it remains open till 2:00 p.m.
So far they’ve been selling about 150 cups a week, at $1.80 a cup. Customers who bring their own cup receive a 20-cent discount. Although sales need to increase about five-fold before the cart turns a profit, its creators — College junior Sally Mengel and College senior Addie Davis — remain positive about the cart’s increasing patronage.
The two students developed the project last year and applied for a grant from the Organization for Sustainability. The Sustainability Initiatives Fund offers grants of $50 to $5,000 for green projects.
“We put it together on a whim,” Davis said. “Originally it was going to be a permanent coffee shop, but while we were in the process of writing our [grant] proposal, we were told it would be too hard.”
Undeterred, they decided to compromise on a cart.
Green Bean offers coffee and tea, and in a few weeks will start selling pastries and cookies. The coffee, Counter Culture Coffee, reflects the mission of the cart — the supplier keeps up a close relationship with the farmer, and all the coffee is delivered fresh weekly.
Manned by students, the stand is meant to teach by organic example as well as offer delicious food. Everything from their cups to their coffee is advertised as organic and recyclable.
“We want to educate the community about responsible consumption,” Mengel said.
Both girls are new to the business world and spent the majority of the summer working to create a business plan. As anthropology majors, they were surprised and confused at how difficult it was to calculate expenses.
The cart turned out to be the most expensive of all their purchases — finally they managed to get one used off Craig’s List for about $6,000. The purchase used the majority of the money they had received from the initial grant.
It was not until October that they had the final word about their funding, which ended up coming from Emory Dining. Now, Emory Dining provides them with an ongoing grant and advertising.
At present they’re still waiting to make a profit. Once this happens they can work on developing their plans further.
They are optimistic nonetheless.
“The good thing is it’s a pretty permanent structure in the University already,” Mengel said. “The Sustainability director wants it to become part of the ‘legacy of Emory.’”
Davis, who will be graduating in May, explained that she would be sad to miss seeing all the new developments the workers at the cart will experience.
“I plan on helping Sally over the phone next year,” Davis said. “So many things are going to happen!”
Aware of the difficulty that Davis’s departure might pose and eager to insure the stability of the program, the two are already looking around for replacement managers.
Throughout all the complications, their main concern remains the satisfaction of the community. At the moment, the primary customers are DUC, postal and construction workers.
Many students are confused or uninformed about the mission and presence of the cart, and are discouraged to find that the cart does not accept Dining Dollars, though this is something that Davis and Mengel are already looking into changing.
Many dining establishments around the Emory campus claim to offer organic and Fair Trade coffee at all times, but this is not always the case. Emory’s Green Bean strives to keep up a relationship with the farmer and the consumer. The farmers who sell the beans to American roasters come from all over the world. The American roasters buy it at an appropriate place and sell the fresh ground coffee to the customers, such as the managers of the Green Bean.
The Cart also offers Numi Tea and Guayki, an Argentinian drink. Made from the Yerba Mate holly plant, Guayaki is lightly caffeinated and milder than coffee.
As for food, Mengel and Davis are waiting for more customer feedback about what would make the best menu. The sale of various sweets will begin soon, and they hope to add a more varied menu eventually.
Still in its opening weeks, Green Bean has about six student employees to help in brewing and selling the coffee. Already various unforeseen problems have arisen: the lids to the coffee cups made out of organic plant material cracked frequently, and the tap on the coffee brewer continues to break.
The intrepid managers began using lids made out of recyclable plastic type 1 and hope to move the stand inside at some point where the tap will be in less danger of getting too cold.
Under the guidance of Anthropology Professor Scott Lacy and Director of Sustainability Peggy Barlett, as well as its two managers, Green Bean is slated to become an Emory institution. The next few months will see the sale of iced coffee, and a book about the mission and creation of the cart will hit the shelves of the bookstore.
— Contact Frances Allitt.