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Battle of the beans

In the spring of 2012, Loyola made the switch to serve Starbucks Coffee on campus. This change came when Aramark, the university dining service, decided to end its business with the local Metropolis Coffee Company. Photo by Charlee McCormick.

The Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC) is leading a new campaign to get Aramark, the university’s dining service and facilities management provider, to end its partnership with Starbucks and brew Metropolis Coffee on campus instead.

For three years, Metropolis Coffee was available in university dining halls and cafes, but in the spring

Photo by Ellen Bauch.
Photo by Ellen Bauch.

of 2012, Aramark decided to sever its ties with Metropolis and sign a deal with a bigger corporation: Starbucks.

Metropolis owner Tony Dreyfuss said he received the bad news through a phone call on a Sunday evening and the next day, all of Metropolis’ products were switched out.

Dreyfuss said the sudden loss of revenue was not only unexpected but also “existential” to his business.

“I was confused, as we had no notice –– we didn’t know anything was wrong. I was also terrified, as we had lots of inventory and resources dedicated to the Loyola account –– at the time, it was by far our biggest account,” said Dreyfuss. “I asked why and I was told that the students preferred Starbucks based on a survey. I had no prior notice of a survey, so it really came out of the blue.”

With Metropolis Coffee being a Chicago-based company, located about a mile away from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, many students are arguing that the university is missing an opportunity to support a local neighborhood business.

Jessica Chitkuer, 19, a sophomore finance and marketing double major, serves as SGLC’s chief financial officer and has been chairing this initiative since November.

“I wanted to bring Metropolis back to campus for a plethora of reasons,” said Chitkuer. “They’re sustainable, they serve fair trade coffee, and there’s more financial implications for the community.”

After meeting with Dreyfuss to talk about the potential of bringing Metropolis back to campus, Chitkuer decided

Photo by Joe Bosch.
Photo by Joe Bosch.

to gauge SGLC’s interest by inviting Dreyfuss to a senate meeting as a guest speaker.

“When the owner of Metropolis came to speak to us, I was extremely interested in helping the campaign,” said junior Noga Barpal, 21, an environmental science major. “I feel very passionate about this issue because I believe in the importance of supporting locally owned businesses that [partake] in ethical buying practices, and as Metropolis is right down the street from our campus I feel that it is the logical choice for our coffee supplier.”

In addition to Barpal’s efforts to host tabling events and educate students on Metropolis’ business model, many other SGLC members have stepped up to boost Metropolis’ visibility by conducting student surveys on campus.

According to Amy Dugan, Aramark’s director of operations, Aramark administrators have been working closely with SGLC on the campaign by meeting monthly with students.

Though Aramark is passionate about catering to Loyola’s requests, the company said it still has reason to believe that there are many students and faculty members on campus who are in favor of Starbucks.

“We just had a transfer orientation and there were so many positive comments from parents and students,” said Amy Trujillo, Aramark’s district manager.

“Students and faculty are pleased with offering Starbucks on campus, and Starbucks is nationally recognized and a fantastic business partner.”

While some students don’t see an issue with Aramark’s arrangement, Chitkuer is confident that the campaign will continue to progress nicely as more and more students have been reaching out and getting involved.

Photo by Charlee McCormick.
Photo by Charlee McCormick.

“I agree with SGLC. I think Loyola should be supporting a smaller business in our own city instead of a huge company,” said junior Leah Arof, a 20-year-old nursing major. “I drink coffee every day, multiple times a day, and I just like how Metropolis coffee tastes.”

With the Metropolis cafes being named one of the best in the country by publications such as Food and Wine and Saveur, the local coffee roasting company has certainly come a long way since its partnership with Loyola.

Regardless of the business’s rocky past with Aramark, Dreyfuss said that Metropolis is still open to partnering with Loyola in the future.

“If Aramark would like to use Metropolis again, we would be very happy to once again roast for Loyola,” Dreyfuss said. “We hold no hard feelings –– water under the bridge. We would welcome the opportunity, so long as everyone on board is committed to our mutual success and that the coffee tastes amazing. It has to be a win-win-win for everyone involved.”

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