Green Bean implements new mug program, introduces new drinks

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Occidental’s Green Bean Coffee Lounge modified its sustainable “for-here” mug program April 20, according to Taylor Durham (senior), the Green Bean’s health, safety and sustainability manager. The Green Bean also plans to update its specialty drink menu next semester in order to increase its monetary contribution to scholarships.

The Green Bean offers organic and local products, recycling and compost bins for its compostable utensils and the option of drinking from a reusable, “for-here” mug to earn a 20 cent discount and save a disposable cup.

Coinciding with Occidental’s Earth Week celebrations, the Green Bean updated its mug system because the previous arrangement of lending out plastic and ceramic mugs was unsustainable—mugs were being lost, broken or never returned. The Green Bean now stocks approximately 50 of both 12- and 16-ounce double-insulated, black, stainless steel mugs that can be used for both hot and cold drinks.

According to Durham, when a customer orders a drink “for here” using their meal plan, their student account is flagged to show they checked out one of the new mugs. The new system will increase sustainability by ensuring that mugs are returned after they are used and can continue to serve customers for the entirety of their usable life, after which they can be recycled.

If a customer does not return the mug, a $20 fee will be charged to their student account. Durham said that the Green Bean has not yet determined a timeline for when mugs are considered unreturned, but the deadline is the end of the semester for now.

To minimize her waste, Sydney Bowman (first-year) began ordering drinks “for here” when the Green Bean started advertising the program this semester. She does not foresee lost or stolen mugs being an issue.

“Oxy is pretty trusting,” Bowman said. “I think the students will return them.”

Customers worried about losing a mug or who prefer their own can still bring their own reusable mug and receive the 20 cent discount.

Durham said the mug program is the result of collaboration between herself and the other Green Bean managers and baristas and was made possible by funding provided by the Associated Students of Occidental College’s (ASOC) Renewable Energy and Sustainability Fund.

In another effort to support campus sustainability, the Green Bean plans to reallocate the funds from one of its scholarship drinks toward a new scholarship for an Occidental student who shows financial need and a strong commitment to sustainability. Currently, a portion of the proceeds from the Green Bean’s three scholarship drinks go toward scholarship funds in the name of three Occidental College presidents. According to Durham, the Green Bean has been working with the Office of Financial Aid and Deans Barbara Avery and Tim Chang to figure out when and how the new scholarship will be awarded.

The drink currently called Son of a Veitch earned a less aggressive title, To Veitch Their Own, to reflect how it will become a rotating seasonal specialty drink instead of a spicy hot chocolate. According to Durham, President Jonathan Veitch—after whom the drink is named—favors the name change.

Durham said that using To Veitch their Own as an umbrella term for seasonal drinks is a way that the coffee shop can utilize the popularity of specialty drinks to put their funds to better use.

The profits raised from the upcharge on Son of a Veitch currently go into Green Bean programing budget but, according to Durham, the managers think that the coffee shop has sufficient funds to pay for their programming without its profits.

The recipes for the other two scholarship drinks—the Skotcheim and Green Dynamite—will be changed to better suit student tastes, Durham said, increasing profits for their scholarships. Currently, only a few hundred dollars are made from the drinks each year.

The Skotcheim is currently a hazelnut-butterscotch-toffee-nut latte and the Green Dynamite a blackberry-raspberry mocha. The new Skotcheim will be renamed to Skotchaim to reflect its makeover into a dirty chai—a drink that Durham said is already very popular—and the Green Dynamite will be a blended matcha drink, so that its color matches its name.

The Green Bean will still make the old recipes for customers who order the original versions of the Skotcheim, Green Dynamite or Son of a Veitch.

Bowman was not aware that the Green Bean offered scholarship drinks and thinks that increased publicity about the scholarships would encourage students to purchase those drinks.

She said that it is her preference—not the higher cost—that usually steers her away from specialty drinks. Typically preferring plain drinks, she usually orders the Green Bean’s medium roast or a regular latte.

Now that she knows about the scholarship drinks, Bowman is open to trying the new recipes.

“The dirty chai sounds really good,” she said.

To gauge the interest of the student body, the Green Bean will pilot the new recipes at the “Taste of the Green Bean” event next semester.