At Gilbert’s Cafe and Lower Farinon, the Lafayette community has been starting their mornings with a freshly brewed cup supplied by Sun Coffee Roasters, the college’s new dining partner.
The college started using Sun Coffee Roasters the beginning of this academic year, and on Wednesday, founder and CEO Keith Lemnios came to campus to speak about his company’s mission and the potential for future opportunities for students to work with the company.
Lemnios once worked on Wall Street and became involved in the coffee business in the 1990s. However, it wasn’t until 2012 when the idea for Sun Coffee Roasters was born. His “eureka” moment occurred when he realized that the company he worked for had been paying the same amount of money for coffee from the same families on the same farms since 1937.
He asked of himself then, “What kind of legacy am I leaving?” Lemnios thought of his own children, privileged enough to have an education and open future, and decided it was time to think of the sustainability of the coffee trade in terms of the workers’ families, lives and futures.
After taking time to do some exploration, Lemnios was inspired by Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, entitled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” Its main message is essentially that the “why” factor for selling any idea is the most important part.
Lemnios said Sun Coffee Roasters’ “why” is threefold: living wages for all workers in the supply chain to make the work sustainable, education for children on coffee farms in order to get them through the equivalency of a twelfth grade education and rainforest preservation in order to make good on a holistic sustainability in the environmental sense.
After looking into several business models to figure out what groups to target, Lemnios saw it was common for people to do business with others who share similar beliefs. For Lemnios, this meant that his ideal target market was the 18-40 age group.
“This led me to college,” Lemnios said.
The main audience of Sun Coffee Roasters is college and university dining services. According to their website, Sun Coffee Roasters has a special program of outreach at colleges that allows them to work closely with sustainability offices as well to “educate and support your students, while offering great-tasting coffee in a cost-effective manner.”
Sun Coffee Roasters works with many universities and colleges, even providing opportunities to work at coffee farms during winter breaks. While Lafayette currently is only involved with Sun Coffee Roasters on a consumer level, Lemnios said involvement in sustainability and further work with Sun Coffee is a future for Lafayette.