While different students see Union Coffee in different lights, there is no loss of customers from the location in the Union.
Last semester, it was announced that the Java City in the Student Union was to be replaced with a coffee shop that brewed Starbucks brand coffee, with slight differences to that of an actual Starbucks chain.
“This has been a well-received transition, all you really have to do is observe the lines of enthusiastic customers waiting for their Starbucks brew to have confirmation that this has been a positive move for campus,” Vice President of Student Affairs Doug Wermedal said. “One of our concerns was that the new Starbucks location would just re-distribute customer counts from Einsteins and the Java City location in Wagner, but our early traffic reports show coffee customer counts are up 13% over this time last year.”
However, not all aspects of the new Union Coffee are being taken well by students; smoothies, for example, are currently not available which strikes an issue with students.
“I personally brew coffee at home, and occasionally get coffee on campus. I more or less am frustrated that they got rid of Java City because of their smoothie station,” Junior ecology and environmental science major Jake DeKraai said. “It was a healthy fast alternative to a meal here in the Union.”
Union Coffee does plan on re-configuring to Starbucks smoothies in the near future, according to Wermedal.
Aramark pastries will remain at this location instead of Starbucks pastries, since it is not a name location; Starbucks merchandise will also not be offered at Union Coffee, Students’ Association Administrative Assistant Daniel Vellek said.
There was originally some confusion to the new location, as it is not considered a full-fledged Starbucks. Some of these changes are anywhere from the main signage to the equipment the employees use to make drinks.
“Most of the changes to the site itself involved signage, cabinetry, menu boards and those type of things. Heavier infrastructure equipment, plumbing, power, etcetera were not changed out, that is what allowed us the ability to complete the change over the break,” Wermedal said. “There is some Starbucks specific equipment, and certainly Starbucks-specific procedures, but the biggest change is of course is in the beans used for the brew, and the various beverage recipes and mixes.”
Despite the hype a new brand name can bring to campus, some students are leaning towards Java City as the favorable coffee shop, as Starbucks has higher prices and a different variety of drinks.
“I heard they were getting Starbucks but I didn’t know if that was for sure. I like Java City better I think because it tastes better,” said sophomore pre-pharmacy major Kristen Binger. “[If I could choose] I would have Java City back in The Union.”
Contrasting to Binger, some students like having the iconic Starbucks brand here on campus.
“I was excited to hear we had Starbucks last semester,” freshman pre-pharmacy major Kha Bui said. “It tastes a little bit better. I would choose Starbucks over Java City because it’s more famous and people know it more than Java City.”
“The main feedback I have heard is that students are confused why the store is called Union Coffee and not Starbucks. I too was confused by this, but since we only serve Starbucks coffee and do not sell any of their food or merchandise we are probably not allowed to call the location Starbucks,” Vellek said.
“My biggest concern with switching to Starbucks was product price. Surprisingly, I have not heard a single student comment on the new pricing. Students seem to enjoy the new coffee option and there is always a waiting line every morning when I get on campus.”
As students adjust to Union Coffee, other coffee locations on campus are not seeing a huge drop in customers, according to Wermedal.
“One of our concerns was that the new Starbucks location would just re-distribute customer counts from Einsteins and the Java City location in Wagner, but our early traffic reports show coffee customer counts are up 13 percent over this time last year,” Wermedal said.
As some students prefer Starbucks, some Java City, and others Einstein Bros Bagels, all three locations remain on campus to offer a variety to SDSU students. “This has been a well-received transition, all you really have to do is observe the lines of enthusiastic customers waiting for their Starbucks brew to have confirmation that this has been a positive move for campus,” Wermedal said.