Will the UG’s new coffee supplier pass the taste test?

Will the UG’s new coffee supplier pass the taste test?

The Douwe Egberts coffee at the UG will be replaced by the organic fair-trade beans from coffee company Maas. That is to say, if their coffee actually tastes good. Last week, university staff were allowed to taste and judge the brew for themselves.
By Sara Rommes
12 October om 18:40 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 12 October 2020
om 18:40 uur.
October 12 at 18:40 PM.
Last modified on October 12, 2020
at 18:40 PM.

While the rain is coming down in buckets outside, steaming cups of coffee are being served in the former public library at the Oude Boteringestraat. They’ve been poured by the baristas working for Maas, the company that, if everything goes according to plan, will be the UG’s new coffee supplier. 

Last June, the university cancelled the tender process for the new coffee machines after current supplier Douwe Egberts and a second company had withdrawn. The corona crisis meant that people at the university were drinking much less coffee, and the UG was no longer able to guarantee large sales.

Nevertheless, they’ve succeeded in finding a new party to supply them with hot drinks. The coffee made by Maas ticks all the UG’s boxes. The only thing left to approve was the flavour. Last week, all university employees were given the opportunity to taste and evaluate the new coffee. The taste test is ‘an important element to determine whether the UG will make a deal with Maas’, the purchasing team said. 

Ground beans

Two modern coffee makers have been set up in the large room where the taste test is held. The first one serves instant coffee, which is what 10 to 15 percent of the new machines at the university would serve. The second machine represents the remaining 85 to 90 percent and would be serving coffee made from ground beans. ‘People want better quality coffee’, Maas coffee expert Frank van Loon explains. 

Other keywords are sustainable, local, and conscientious. Maas would be serving organic coffee that’s also fair trade. The beans are provided by Groningen roaster Tiktak, and the black gold would be served by energy-saving machines that can turn themselves on and off when needed. The cappuccinos and macchiatos use skim milk. ‘That’s for health reasons’, explains sales manager Jean-Max Fijen. ‘That way, there aren’t any unnecessary calories in your cappuccino.’ 

Four grades

After they’ve tried it, the tasters can grade the coffee, but they can only give it a 0, a 5, a 7, or a 10. People are surprised: ‘What if I want to give it a grade of 6.5?’ Van Loon explains what the grades mean: 0 is ‘undrinkable’, 5 is ‘drinkable’, 7 is ‘good’, and 10 ‘excellent’. 

This grading system may not accurately reflect how people feel, though. People are less likely to rate the coffee as 0, which means they’ll be more likely to give it a 7 or a 10. On top of that, they’re also asked to compare the coffee to the coffee that Douwe Egberts served and grade it accordingly. Fijen explains that the UG decided on this particular grading system. ‘But we’ve received feedback from various people that they would have preferred more options.’

There’s nothing to be done about it now, though. The list tracking the grades shows mainly sevens and tens, and one or two fives. The final verdict probably won’t be much of a surprise. But the definitive white smoke – or rather, steam – won’t be released until later this week, when the results are published on MyUniversity.  

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