Exclusive coffee roast debuts

Sweet Briar Roast and an updated look are features of the new Daisy Café.

SWEET BRIAR, Va.—With the opening of the newly renovated Daisy’s Café at 800-student Sweet Briar College comes a specially made coffee, by a local roaster, for the college called Sweet Briar Roast. Brewed exclusively for the college, the coffee, available in regular and decaf, will be a featured item at Daisy’s Café. It will also be packaged to sell in 12-ounce whole bean bags.

“We wanted to be unique and have something really special,” said Steve Edwards, director of auxiliary services. “At a previous position, I had worked with a local roaster to have a fresh roasted coffee, but it was not specific to that school. So the idea of a micro roast coffee was appealing to me. When we talked to Rosetta Coffee they were excited about the idea and they were able to find beans that could work. We did a cupping with students, faculty and staff back in November and selected the two beans they would roast specifically for us. “

Through this partnership, Rosetta Coffee sourced beans to Unnamalai Thiagarajan, a female coffee grower who has a plantation in the Blue Mountains in southern India. Finding a female grower seemed to fit perfectly with the all-women college’s philosophy. The decaf Sweet Briar roast is a grown by Peru San Juan del Oro, a Peruvian co-op that works to advance women’s issues within its own community.

The biggest challenge for us was finding a local roaster,” Edwards said. “Even that was relatively easy because we saw an article in the local paper that led us to our roaster and they have been fantastic to work with. The neat thing is we have much better coffee, but the great thing is the story behind the coffee that we selected. Using beans that are grown by a female plantation owner in central India and the fact that we’re an all women’s college makes you think, ‘Wow, here’s a woman in India doing something that is somewhat unheard of in her country.’ The decaf comes from Peru, and again, the growers are very active in women’s issues, which is also not exactly a popular topic in that country so the beans seem to fit perfect for us. The coffee is great, but the story behind it really gets people’s attention.”

Formerly the Book Shop Café, the Daisy Café has been rebranded as more of an upscale coffee shop than a c-store, which was the café’s former function. The café’s menu now features Boar’s Head sandwiches, espresso-based drinks, pastries, and of course, Sweet Briar Roast.

“We did more of an upgrade than a renovation,” Edwards said. “We did some painting, brought in a new menu board, new furniture and reconfigured seating arrangements to provide for more soft seating. It was, and is, the only c-store on campus. Since we’re a very rural campus we needed all of our convenience goods here, but now they are concentrated in one part of the store. Now we have the book/gift shop area, then a c-store section and then the Daisy’s Café section. The upgrade was really about sectioning the café off. We did have to raise some prices to account for the higher quality espresso drinks and deli meats. The sandwiches went up between 40 cents and 60 cents.”

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