This school year has brought about many controversial changes to the Colorado State University campus; including the new football stadium’s construction at the expense of the plant science building and commuter Z-lot parking; a plaza preacher who is allowed to videotape students in order to prevent being assaulted; the permanently blocked off South Drive, which now makes it nearly impossible to drive to the library; and equally obnoxious, a Starbucks Coffee has made its way into the Lory Student Center.
The new addition, called “Intermissions, proudly serving Starbucks,” opened in early September and has quickly gained favoritism among many students, who apparently prefer the familiarity of corporate coffee to the locally-owned free trade coffee shops on campus and in the surrounding downtown area.
Being from Fort Collins and having experienced its authenticity throughout my whole life, this is especially disappointing to me. We live in a community that promotes the growth of local businesses and values innovation over duplication. We live in a city that is home to hundreds of unique cafés, bands, farms and boutiques. To move to a place like this – full of life and substance – yet continuing to feed the overbearing corporations that hurt local business is humiliating.
Now, that is not to say that I have never had Starbucks or that I do not buy it occasionally. Sometimes it is my friends’ choice or is the most accessible and readily-available coffee shop near me. After all, Starbucks has 15 different locations in Fort Collins, aside from Intermissions. But until now, I have not run into those situations on campus.
Allegro Coffee is served at the other on-campus coffee shops and practices fair trade, a way of business that ensures farmers are paid fairly in exchange for coffee that is grown sustainably in fair labor situations and/or organizations, and is most often organic. This alone influences my decision to support Allegro Coffee while on campus, which is only reinforced by the burnt flavor of the mass-produced, overpriced Starbucks Coffee alternative.
“I think it’s unnecessary,” said Sweet Sinsations barista Leah Klein. “I like our coffee better. I don’t want to pay an extra dollar for burnt coffee you can get anywhere.”
For comparison, a small mocha costs $3 at Sweet Sinsations and Morgan’s Grind, while a smaller, “tall” mocha at Intermissions costs $3.45. A small black coffee at Sweet Sinsations costs $1.29, the same size costs $1.39 at Morgan’s Grind and an even smaller one at Starbucks costs $1.85. Because of this, price is an obvious factor that should influence CSU students to pick Allegro Coffee for their caffeine fix.
Another few valuable characteristics of the unique on-campus coffee shops are their all-student staffs and the baristas’ opportunity to apply for a work-study program through the University. Basically, the students can apply to be paid mostly by state or federal work-study funds, rather than the coffee shops, which better ensures the shops’ success.
On the other hand, the Intermissions staff refused to respond when asked if Intermissions hires CSU students or requires barista experience of its employees, like most Starbucks do. One barista even laughed, saying, “No comment.” To me, this shows a lack of connection to CSU’s campus and its students, and an unwillingness to prove otherwise.
This is irritating to me – more and more students will line up outside Intermissions for the most popular pumpkin spice latte recipe when autumn is in full swing, and the business will become even more of a threat to the other on-campus coffee shops with pro-student philosophies. As students and faculty of CSU, we should make an extra effort to resist the temptation of Starbucks sweets this fall and instead choose a local Buttercream Cupcakery pastry and an Allegro Coffee at Sweet Sinsations.
Collegian Columnist Laurel Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @laurelanne1996.