New Widener Coffee Involves Students, Faculty and Alumni from Cultivation to Cup

Look out Starbucks, Widener University is brewing up a bold plan to support sustainable agricultural practices with the launch its very own earth-friendly coffee, WU Brew, on Earth Day, April 22.

The purchase of WU Brew supports research and service-learning opportunities for Widener students to collaborate with farmers in Las Lajas, Costa Rica, where the coffee beans for Widener's new product are harvested. A group of Widener students and faculty members recently traveled to Las Lajas for a firsthand look at how the coffee is grown without pesticides or herbicides and under shade trees to preserve bird habitats. They helped the farmers with the harvest and also gathered information for further efforts to help reverse damaging agricultural practices in surrounding areas.

"We're hoping that this project will help us change the face of agriculture when it comes to growing coffee," said Dr. Stephen Madigosky, professor of environmental science. "Much of Costa Rica now looks like Iowa for the mass production of crops. We need to convert these areas back into forests."

Leading the way in the production of organic, sustainable coffee is Widener alumnus John Sacharok, '80, a former Wawa, Inc. executive, who founded Golden Valley Farms in West Chester, Pa., the coffee roaster that imports the WU Brew coffee beans from Las Lajas. Fellow alumnus, Frank Baldassarre, '95, is principal in Golden Valley Farms. They offered to produce WU Brew for their alma mater and donate a portion from every bag sold to the students.

It's a unique, global partnership that raises awareness of sustainable agriculture while providing Widener student with a hands-on education experience and the opportunity to be part of the driving force in the sustainability movement.

Widener will launch WU Brew on April 22 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in University Center with a coffee tasting and a meet and greet with the students and faculty members who traveled to Costa Rica and alumni Sacharok and Baldassarre from Golden Valley Farms. If you don't want to wait until Earth Day, you can purchase a bag of WU Brew online.


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