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Monday, March 4, 2024

North Central College – The gift of coffee that does good


By Amy Rogers, North Central Coffee Lab Operations Manager

Does your holiday gift-giving list include any coffee lovers? Perhaps you’d like some new morning brew options?

In either case, the North Central College Coffee Lab is where you can buy freshly roasted coffee products that are produced and sold in a socially responsible manner. One of only a few college-operated facilities in the nation dedicated to studying the craft of coffee, it is the first to focus on the business of coffee.

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About the Coffee Lab

As a state-of-the-art roastery and research laboratory that provides a unique learning environment, the Coffee Lab is where students develop valuable career-readiness skills—a key component of a North Central education.

There is also an ethical dimension. The idea for the Coffee Lab originated through North Central’s chapter of Enactus, an organization that promotes social justice through entrepreneurship. Today the lab’s main focus is direct trade partnerships with indigenous entrepreneurs in Guatemala, including small-plot coffee farmers, artisans and a chocolatier. Producer partners set their own sustainable prices—rates that enable reinvestment in their land, education for their children, and healthcare for their family.

The Coffee Lab engages students and faculty in collaboration from across North Central’s array of more than 60 undergraduate majors.

For example:

Business students study the economics of coffee production, importing logistics, accounting and financial planning, and marketing.

Engineering students work hands-on with lab equipment, such as devising more efficient processes for packaging.

Environmental studies students explore the viability of utilizing coffee grounds for water filtration.

Graphic design students design and create product labels and packaging.

Anthropology students collaborate to produce documentary films about life in the indigenous communities of Enactus and Coffee Lab producer partners.

Students even travel with faculty to Guatemala to personally connect with partners like Tomas, who says: “Now, my children have their own small coffee farms. Thank you to you who buy our coffee. You are helping us.”

Purchase Coffee

With oversight from advisors and a graduate assistant, students run the lab’s day-to-day operations, fulfilling online and in-store orders for more than 30 coffee products. Among them is the signature product: a 100% single origin Arabica coffee sourced from Guatemala’s Atitlán region. Another product is Polo’s Blend, a coffee roast created in honor of a partner who passed from COVID-19. For every bag sold, $5 supports households affected by the pandemic in Guatemala, including Polo’s family. Other special blend “roasts for a cause” include one that supports a scholarship fund for North Central students through the Black Student Association and another that benefits WONC, the student-run radio station.

The Coffee Lab is an example of the many opportunities at North Central to learn beyond the classroom and get ready to make a real difference in the world.

To order products or learn more, visit northcentralcoffeelab.com. You can also buy in-person at the lab, located inside North Central’s Larrance Academic Center, 309 E. School St. During business hours, the public also is invited to the lab’s new “All Things Good” shop, which will include hand-made textiles, pottery, chocolates and more.

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North Central College
North Central Collegehttp://www.northcentralcollege.edu
North Central College provides students with the confidence, instruction and direction they need to exceed their personal best inside and outside of the classroom and throughout their careers. Founded in 1861 and located just 28 miles west of Chicago in the Historic District of Naperville, Ill. — named among the nation’s “Best Places to Live” by Money magazine — North Central is home to more than 2,800 students and offers 82 undergraduate majors, 67 additional undergraduate minors and concentrations, and 22 graduate degree and graduate certificate programs. Visit northcentralcollege.edu to discover why U.S. News & World Report has named North Central a “Best in the Midwest” school for 29 years in a row, and to learn more about the College’s state-of-the-art facilities and distinctive programs, particularly in the sciences and business.


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