Las Nubes Café opens with fanfare and ‘good taste’

York opened Las Nubes Café Friday, the first kiosk on campus dedicated to selling York’s own brand of fair-trade coffee.

Located in the lobby of the Computer Science & Engineering Building, the Las Nubes Café will use paper cups and sell healthy food – salads, sandwiches made exclusively with whole-wheat bread, zucchini and banana muffins – in the “Yorkwise” spirit of environmental friendliness, says Amina Hussain, manager of Food Services at York.

Right: Las Nubes Café opens in the Computer Science & Engineering Building

Where once other brands of coffee prevailed, now the aroma of Las Nubes coffee will fill the airy lobby. Beside the kiosk, customers will be able to sit at tables in an enclosed space surrounded by tall, green plants, meant to evoke the Costa Rica jungle where the shade-grown coffee comes from.

Five cents from every cup and $1 from every pound sold will support York’s environmental research and conservation at Las Nubes, the University’s rainforest reserve in Costa Rica which was donated to York by Dr. Woody Fisher in 1998. Not only will the money contribute to research of endangered species and sustainable agriculture, it will support efforts to improve the quality of life for local growers, suggested Barbara Rahder, interim dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies.

“We are not here to celebrate the opening of another coffee shop at York University,” said Professor Howard Daugherty, director of the Las Nubes Program, at the opening ceremony Thursday morning. “We are here to celebrate our partnership with the farmers’ cooperative, Cooperagri, the sole producer of Las Nubes coffee.” The co-op, which helps York students and researchers in so many ways, deserves and needs our support, said the environmental studies professor responsible for bringing Las Nubes coffee to York and initiating student projects in the Costa Rican rainforest. 

“When you make Las Nubes your coffee of choice, you are saying: I care about the well-being of coffee farmers and their families; I care about how coffee is produced; I care about issues of economic justice and fair-trade practices. And I like good coffee!” said Daugherty.

Above: From left, FES Prof. Howard Daugherty, President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, FES Interim Dean Barbara Rahder and Richard Fisher, York’s chief marketing officer, hoist mugs of Las Nubes coffee at the opening of the café

“This coffee has a lot more going for it than its quality and its great aroma,” said Mamdouh Shoukri, York president & vice-chancellor. The sale of Las Nubes coffee supports York research, he noted. The coffee is an example of ecologically sound production based in part on the research of FES graduate students. And it enhances the livelihoods of coffee-producing families because it is sold at fair-trade prices, which are higher than market prices, he said.

“The Las Nubes coffee project is an internationally recognized example of public/private partnership that involves York University, the Tropical Science Center, the local famers’ cooperative, Timothy’s World Coffee and community groups,” said Shoukri.

“In their own quiet way, this coffee and this café perfectly reflect York’s values of social justice and fairness,” said Shoukri. “And, I might add, good taste.”