Friday, August 11, 2006

Alterra Statement On Loss of Marquette Relationship

The following came to us via e-mail, in response to our post about Marquette’s dropping Alterra as the coffee supplier for the Brew Bayou (and other coffee outlets on campus) and going to Stone Creek.
John -

I was forwarded your blog regarding the recent change from Alterra coffee at Marquette.

All of us at Alterra were sad to see this relationship interrupted. We have already received many communications from staff and students that they were displeased by the change and that they hoped to enjoy our coffee (on campus) again. We will continue to do what we do best...and work to reestablish our relationship with the university. Both the university and the students/student groups were valued partners in our pursuit of great coffee and great grower relationships.

We were similarly mystified when the suggestion was made that Marquette was changing coffee suppliers to better pursue its social mission. As one of the top ten fair trade roasters in the country, Alterra has had a significantly greater impact on grower cooperatives than any other roaster in the area. Similarly, our other relationships with growers (both fair trade and estates) bring benefits regarding pre-financing, quality control, infrastructure development and create a stable purchasing partner for many groups of farmers. I can say with certainty that no other roaster in southeast Wisconsin has developed a similar platform of benefits . . . nor one with the years of track record we have.

Alterra has always been long on action and short on communication. Perhaps we have not done our job when communicating our efforts in the realm of grower benefits to the decision makers at the university. If our relationship with the university has changed because of our lack of communication . . . well, that’s our bad. We would hope, though, that the university would not punish those they seek to support for our lack of self-promotion.

We wish the university our best in their continued pursuit of educational excellence and appreciate Marquette’s role as a valued fixture on Milwaukee’s landscape. We are all confident that if the benefits to the growers of your coffee are paramount in the decision making process, the students will be able to enjoy Alterra’s finest again sometime soon.

best regards -
Lincoln Fowler
Dan Suhr at GOP3.COM first raised this issue, noting that the “social justice” arguments made in favor of Stone Creek don’t seem to hold water.

If Fair Trade was the issue, the simple fact is that Alterra has a larger selection of Fair Trade coffees than does Stone Creek. It’s now typical in the Brew Bayou to find three of the four coffees offered to be Fair Trade coffee. There will almost certainly be fewer from Stone Creek.

So then why did Marquette make the change?

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