Starbucks competitor offers cheaper, charitable coffee

Students can find inexpensive, organic coffee on campus without waiting in 30-minute lines – and do some good while they’re at it.

Pura Vida, the brand of coffee served at the C-store, works with coffee-growing farmers in Costa Rica and Central America and is 100 percent charitable.

Since 1998, the company has raised more than $2.5 million for charity. The money provides clean water, latrines and clothing to local communities, funds children’s soccer teams, builds schools and buys computers for classrooms.

For the past year, the University of Miami has served Pura Vida at the C-store and at snack carts around campus, as opposed to other coffee brands to give the “smaller farm grower an opportunity,” said Mel Tenen, assistant vice president of Auxiliary Services.

The coffee is shade-grown from Central America. This means there is less clear-cutting for farming land and it protects bird habitats.

At American University in Washington, D.C., the students’ plea for Pura Vida’s charitable coffee replaced Starbucks, which is the more common coffee shop at many college campuses. Two hundred colleges in the United States have either Pura Vida stands or cafés on campus.

Although UM promotes Pura Vida, the university has an exclusive agreement with Starbucks that does not allow any other coffee shops on campus.

“We serve coffee at our carts, at the business school and the Wellness Center, so there’s only a need for one full-size coffee shop on our campus,” Tenen said.

Many students are unaware of Pura Vida’s presence on campus.

Jamie Cashorali, a freshman, said she thinks people associate the C-store with food and Starbucks with coffee.

Regarding price, the 30 cent difference for a grande cup of coffee does not deter many students.

“It’s pricey, but I do like the coffee [at Starbucks],” Brian Stafford, a sophomore, said.

UM is planning to add a second Starbucks on campus when the Student Activity Center opens in 2011.

Brook Frazier may be contacted at Fiona Kim may be contacted at

The C-store sells approximately 140 cups of Pura Vida coffee per week at a cost of $1.55 for a grand