Timothy’s to sell York’s own Las Nubes sustainable coffee

Coffee lovers will soon be able to enjoy a cup of York’s own brand of certified sustainable coffee.

York University and Timothy’s World Coffee  announced an agreement yesterday that will make York’s own Las Nubes brand coffee available in 140 Timothy’s World Coffee locations across Canada.

Las Nubes coffee will be sold in Timothy’s World Coffee stores and will be featured as coffee of the month in April. Timothy’s has also agreed to donate $1 for every pound sold to the York University Foundation to support York’s sustainability research in the Las Nubes region. It will also be available on York University’s Keele campus in participating dining halls and college residences.


Above: Timothy’s World Coffee President Becky McKinnon (left) and York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden “do” coffee. McKinnon is wearing a York jacket presented to her by York University Foundation President Paul Marcus.

Lorna R. Marsden, president & vice-chancellor of York University, and Becky McKinnon, president of Timothy’s World Coffee, made the announcement at a special event at York’s TEL Building attended by special guests and the media.

“This exciting and innovative collaboration by York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and the farmers of the Las Nubes region is a marvellous example of sustainability in action,” said Marsden. “We are proud that consumers here on campus and in Timothy’s World Coffee stores across Canada will have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and social justice by drinking York’s own brand of coffee.” She also said that this agreement reflects York’s commitment “to finding new world solutions and collaborative approaches.”

“We are very excited about this relationship with York University,” said McKinnon. “We strive to educate our consumers about the link between good growing practices and great tasting coffee. Las Nubes demonstrates how high quality coffee can be produced in a way that is socially and environmentally responsible and economically sustainable.”

McKinnon explained how for a few years coffee supply has exceeded demand and coffee has been treated as a commodity. “At Timothy’s we promise the best-tasting coffee to our customers. We became concerned that in a commodity world that we would not be able to get good coffee so we began to develop relationships with growers to make sure they could buy the best coffee.” In the communities where Timothy’s pays premium prices, “it’s amazing that the money ends up in education. So when Howard approached us I felt like we were closing the loop,” she said.

She was referring to environmental studies Professor Howard Daugherty, director of the Fisher Fund for Neotropical Conservation and the man behind the marketing plan. At the coffee launch yesterday, Faculty of Environmental Studies Dean David Morley credited Daugherty as the “alchemist who saw a unique opportunity to engage with an ethical corporate body” and made it happen.

Right: Environmental studies Professor Howard Daugherty (left), the “alchemist” behind the agreement between Timothy’s and York, with Timothy’s President Becky McKinnon and Faculty of Environmental Studies Dean David Morley.

Las Nubes brand coffee, grown on farms adjacent to York’s Las Nubes Rainforest in southern Costa Rica, is the product of a joint effort by student researchers from York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies working with the Tropical Science Centre in Costa Rica and the local growers’ cooperative. The shade-grown coffee is certified sustainable by Costa Rica’s Ministry of Agriculture as grown in an environmentally, economically and socially responsible way. Producers employ methods that meet government standards for preserving the structure and function of the ecosystem, use fair labour practices and bring a fair-trade price, or better, for the crop.

“In addition to being a model of sustainable enterprise, Las Nubes coffee is a real-life application of sustainability concepts. It also supports research which focuses on biodiversity conservation and rural sustainability in southern Costa Rica,” said Daugherty. “It’s a model for sustainability in action for York.”

Daugherty praised student researchers who worked with coffee growers in Costa Rica. They “provided much of the knowledge for this project,” said Daugherty. “Our students are great ambassadors for York and for Canada.”

Paul Marcus, York University Foundation president, said, “Timothy’s has set a wonderful example of corporate generosity. Their innovative support will help York’s talented faculty and students, and have an impact beyond Canada’s borders.”

Left: Las Nubes coffee packaging

The Las Nubes Rainforest was donated to York University by Toronto physician Dr. Woody Fisher in 1998. The Faculty of Environmental Studies established the Fisher Fund to support research and community action programs in sustainability. A portion of the proceeds from sales of Las Nubes coffee is directed back into conservation research through the York University Foundation to the Fisher Fund which works in collaboration with Costa Rica’s Tropical Science Centre and the farmers’ cooperative.

Timothy’s World Coffee opened its first store in 1975 and was a pioneer in the North American specialty coffee industry. Customers who share their passion for great coffee have helped Timothy’s World Coffee develop a national identity in Canada.

Right: In keeping with the theme, the Faculty of Fine Arts Quartet Plus One performed a coffee medley including You’re The Cream In My Coffee, I Love Coffee, I Love Tea, and Java Jive. Singer Zoe Ackah, a York music student, was accompanied on sax by professor Sundar Viswanathan; on bass by Andrew Downey; on conga drum by music student Reuben Esquerra; on electric guitar by music student Ricky Tillo.