– The coffee that is now being served is in reality of the same quality as that in the coffee vending machines in the student cafeterias, yet they are trying to give off the impression that they are selling gourmet coffee. In this way, the coffee bars are being hollowed out from the inside, as the product that they are selling is no longer consistent with the coffee bar concept, says Chris Kolbu, this year’s Norwegian Barista Champion.
Kolbu has worked as a barista in the Student Cafeterias for several years, but now works at the respected coffee bar Tim Wendelboe at Grünerløkka, while studying art history at the Faculty of Humanities. He does not think that the quality is good enough.
– In my opinion, this switch gives the students less welfare for their money, and this does not gel with the Foundation for Student Life in Oslo’s (SiO) vision that all profits should come back to the students. In practice, this means that students are being given a cup of Evergood Dark Roast when they order a coffee. When SiO’s prices are the same, but the quality is poorer, it means that the students are getting ripped off compared to what was previously on offer, says Kolbu.
– Give the impression of gourmet coffee
It was around Easter-time this year that the Student Cafeterias decided to switch coffee suppliers for their coffee bars at Blindern. While the Student Cafeterias have previously used coffee from the small coffee roasting company Den Gyldne Bønne in their coffee bars, they have now switched to the larger manufacturer Joh. Johannson, who are known for producing the coffee brands Evergood and Ali Kaffe.
According to the Student Cafeterias, the switch in suppliers happened after a panel consisting of representatives from the Norwegian Coffee Association and the Student Cafeterias, and students testing coffee from different suppliers. Here the coffee from Joh. Johannson was found to have the best taste, according to the Student Cafeterias.
Chris Kolbu suggests however that there must be another reason for the switch.
– I think that money must be the only reason that they switched suppliers, he says.
Universitas has reason to believe that the decision to switch suppliers has been a heated subject internally in the Student Cafeterias as well. When Universitas got in touch on Tuesday, manager of the coffee bars Ricardo Draaisma confirmed that the administration has forbidden employees from making statements concerning the issue.
Managing Director of the Student Cafeterias, Alain Clérambault, confirms this.
– When it comes to the cafeterias’ [the Student Cafeterias’] decision, it is I who will make the statements, says Clérambault.
– So I am not allowed to interview Ricardo Draaisma?
– Again, when it comes to decisions made on behalf of the Student Cafeterias, in this case the choice of supplier, it is I who will make the statements.
At the same time, Clérambault rejects the criticism from Kolbu that students are given less for their money.
– This is completely wrong. A hundred per cent of all profits from the Student Cafeterias goes back to SiO, and then in turn to students in the shape of improved welfare.
He also thinks that the coffee bars are now getting coffee of the same quality at a lower price than before.
– I think that students are aware enough of quality to notice a lowering in standards, and until now we have not noticed anything that might suggest that the coffee is any worse than before, rather the opposite. I cannot see why we should pay more to suppliers than is necessary when the students themselves think that the coffee tastes good.