Quick Takes – Starbucks Replacing Espresso Roma

Another Campus Coffee Shop Won’t Solve Underlying Financial Issues

Price Center is a haven for students passing time before class, and there is nothing more necessary for students than a cup of Joe. Starbucks replacing Cafe Espresso Roma may seem beneficial in the short term, but will prove unnecessary if introduced. Starbucks will add little variety to what UCSD already offers and will likely undergo similar monetary struggles to Espresso Roma.

Placing Starbucks in Price Center will not necessarily increase beverage variety, because campus markets already brew Starbucks coffee. By shutting Espresso Roma down, the University Centers Advisory Board is banking on students to simply flock to another coffee shop with exactly the same offerings.

UCSD also has a variety of other popular on-campus coffee shops like Pete’s, Fairbanks and Perks that are a mere five-minute walk from one another. The problem isn’t in Espresso Roma’s product, but in broader financial issues. According to the UCSD Housing, Dining and Hospitality website, there are 14 markets and dining halls on campus that offer coffee, along with the other independent coffee shops that fight for business on our campus. This oversaturation of coffee shops has contributed to the fiscal problems that have plagued Espresso Roma for the past few years, and these issues won’t be resolved by simply replacing the business with another one.

With so many places on campus offering the same product, it’d be foolish to assume that a replacement would boost business. A failing neighborhood burrito restaurant does not imply that a Chipotle as a replacement would jump-start business. This is the unfortunate quandary that UCSD finds itself in and Starbucks as a solution will prove too shallow to work.

— Andy Liu
Senior Staff Writer

Starbucks’ Success and Popularity Makes It an Ideal Replacement

Despite UCSD’s efforts to keep Cafe Espresso Roma alive, the small business still continues to experience financial troubles. Its rumored successor — the world’s largest coffeehouse — Starbucks, is more than a worthy replacement. Starbucks seems to thrive in any country and any environment; there is a reason why there seems to be a Starbucks on every block.

Cafe Roma’s potential removal has raised concerns that another small business is going to be driven out by a Goliath. To be fair, however, there is only a sprinkling of Café Romas in three different states, and as much as UCSD talks about “community” and “principles,” it’s not running a charity.

Former University Centers Advisory Board Chair Albert Trujillo told the Guardian that UCAB did in fact attempt to give Cafe Roma “some room for improvement” but the following year’s results were not satisfactory. Cafe Roma’s lease was subsequently downgraded from yearly to monthly. Instead of facing potential eviction once per year, Cafe Roma has to now deal with it every month. If Cafe Roma continues to struggle to keep itself afloat, its replacement is inevitable.

Acting as an ideal replacement, a Starbucks would thrive at UCSD. While Starbucks coffee may be costly, its strong consumer perception drives millions of people to drink and eat its variety of products daily. Starbucks succeeds outside monopolistic conditions and has a business model that figures out what consumers want and gives it to them. 

If Cafe Roma cannot make ends meet, Starbucks is a great option to replace it. Starbucks has a strong brand image, and it definitely knows how we suburban Americans want our coffee: weak, sweet and milky.

— Aleks Levin
Senior Staff Writer

Students Should Support Cafe Roma and UCSD’s Fair Trade Efforts

Since 2005, UCSD students have campaigned to achieve the status of a “Fair Trade University,” with the goal of exclusively offering selected fairly traded products. According to the product certification organization Fair Trade USA, UCSD has one of the strongest fair trade policies of all U.S. campuses and was the first “Fair Trade University” west of the Mississippi. Replacing Cafe Espresso Roma with an unregulated trade business such as Starbucks would undermine students’ efforts toward fair trade.

Earlier this year, the UCSD Fair Trade University Advisory Committee voted to revise the 2007 UCSD Fair Trade Policy shortly after Starbucks began meeting with University Centers. Instead of stating that vendors must sell officially certified fair trade coffee, the policy now permits “equivalent labels” from other fair trade labeling organizations.

These revisions are suspicious because Starbucks’ coffee practices would not be compatible with the stronger, original fair trade policy. Unlike Cafe Roma, Starbucks coffee is not fair trade certified through a brand-neutral inspection by an independent, third-party organization. It is highly possible that Starbucks created its own fair trade requirements and granted itself verification rather than adhering to independently enforced standards.

By promoting fair trade products, UCSD supports livable work wages, humane working conditions and guarantees against the use of child labor. As consumers we have the power and responsibility to support fairer trading practices. In the name of social justice and continuing our status as a “Fair Trade University,” recent policy revisions should be revoked, and students should stop this international giant from replacing Cafe Roma. 

 Mia Florin-Sefton
Staff Writer

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