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Fair Trade Coffee at the Fish House
February 14, 2005

Students at Calvin College interested in a cup of java have a new option this semester: fair trade coffee.

The Fish House is one of the on-campus coffee options for Calvin students. And this month it switched over to a completely fair trade coffee menu.

"Espresso, flavored coffees, our regular house blend - the works. It's all fair trade now," says Thia Oracz, the retail manager for the Fish House. "It's exciting and we hope Calvin students, staff and faculty are interested in supporting what we're trying to do here."

Oracz and Rick Balfour, director of dining services at Calvin, say the move to fair trade for the Fish House is a direct response to student concerns.

About a year ago members of Calvin's Social Justice Committee brought a proposal to Balfour, urging Calvin and Creative Dining Services (the company that does all of Calvin's food and beverage service) to buy and sell fair trade coffee as much as possible.

Balfour and Oracz then began to work together to see if the Fish House could be a place where such an effort might begin.

Oracz spent much of her career working in restaurant management prior to coming to Calvin a decade ago. She knew the first step in making the Fish House fair trade was to work with her coffee supplier, in this case locally based Ferris Coffee & Nut.

But, while Ferris had some fair trade products, they didn't have enough to make the Fish House completely fair trade. Their espressos and their flavored coffees - two of the Fish House's best sellers - were not fair trade.

So Oracz and Ferris began to work together to build a line-up of coffees - house blends, espressos, flavored coffees and more - that would meet the new fair trade goal. It wasn't an easy task, but together the two partners got to a point where the entire roster of Fish House coffees could be fair trade.

And this month the switch was made.

Oracz says simply: "We want to give students a great cup of coffee that they can feel great about."