Beginning today, The Corp will debut their new partnership with Compass Coffee, featured in their coffee storefronts Uncommon Grounds, More Uncommon Grounds and The Midnight MUG, as well as their other services The Hilltoss and Corp Catering.
The Corp has closed its three coffee services in a staggered schedule from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1 to provide time for the switch. Uncommon Grounds was closed on Wednesday and Thursday, The Midnight MUG will close on Friday and Saturday and More Uncommon Grounds, which is closed on weekends, will be shut Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Following trends from the previous year, according to Chief Operating Officer Patrick Moore (MSB ’15), Uncommon Grounds stands to lose $3,013.48 on Wednesday and $2,851.49 on Thursday; MUG $1,881.03 on Friday; and The Midnight MUG $1,344.47 on Friday and $1,582.30 on Saturday.
“Despite us losing this money, we think this new partnership is worth it because we are giving the customer a better product and really taking their feedback into consideration,” Marketing Director Norma Hutchinson (SFS ’16) said.
Students of Georgetown, Inc. requested student input last year with boards in their coffee establishments that asked students what changes they would like to see in the quality of Corp goods. The most popular response, according to Moore, was a change in coffee brand.
Self-described as “the Tesla of coffee roasters,” Compass Coffee, which was founded by two former Marines, Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez, who served in Afghanistan together and developed an affinity for coffee, opened a storefront in the Shaw District of Washington, D.C. three months ago.
Since its opening, the company received media attention from The Washington Post and Martha Stewart’s holiday catalog. Thrillist listed Compass Coffee as one of the best coffee shops in D.C. The coffee is also offered as an option at Baked and Wired in Georgetown, in addition to Stumptown and Intelligentsia.
Compass Coffee approached Moore last year about selling its brand at Corp services. Moore said that The Corp is often approached with different company pitches, but he was drawn to this new company’s dedication to quality.
“The idea we want to convey to people is that The Corp has the ability to be changing,” Moore said. “We are not tied down to any contracts to people, we don’t have the university restrictions that many other campus organizations do so we are able to keep evolving to put out the best products possible through constant progression and innovation.”
In addition to new coffee beans, The Corp bought new coffee brewing, cleaning and grinding equipment on the recommendation of Compass Coffee. Compass recommended Curtis and La Marzocco brand machinery, including a coffee grinder known as the Vulcano.
“The moment that you enter the store everything will be different — how you interact with Corp employees, and then with your coffee thereafter,” Hutchinson said.
Compass Coffee employees will train over 200 Corp employees on the use of the equipment this weekend. Hutchinson emphasized the retraining of Corp staff as part of the company’s changes.
“We are really taking the time to change not only our vendor but how we do things. If we changed the vendor but kept brewing the coffee the same way, steaming the milk the same way, our coffee would inevitably stay the same way. From the grounds up we are changing everything,” Hutchinson said.
In addition to the coffee shops, Compass Coffee will also be served in The Hilltoss and Corp Catering services the following week.
Midnight Mug Director Colleen Scanlon (COL ’15) said that switching coffee vendors from Mayorga Coffee to Compass Coffee was a difficult decision for Corp leadership.
“It was a difficult decision to step away from a partnership that was a great partnership. But at the end of the day I think we really saw that customers wanted a different kind of coffee that we just couldn’t provide from Mayorga,” Scanlon said. “So, loosening those ties was hard — breaking off any sort of partnership is hard — but I think we knew that it was worth it because that’s what our customers really wanted.”
Mayorga also provided The Corp with smoothie and chai tea services, for which The Corp had to find alternate vendors since Compass does not provide those products. Maya Chai, based in Arizona, will provide the new chai tea and Dr. Smoothie, an online vendor, will provide smoothie materials made of 100 percent crushed fruit for six new smoothie flavors, including mango.
Moore echoed Scanlon with appreciation for the partnership with Mayorga.
“We were really proud of our Mayorga partnership; both of our companies learned a lot,” Moore said. “We are still proud of our previous relationship with Mayorga and wish them continuing success in the future.”
While the price of Compass Coffee is projected to cost around five to 10 cents more per cup than Mayorga coffee, Moore said that The Corp would attempt to offset the cost increase in other supply areas, which would likely prevent an immediate price hike. He did not expect this to deter students from purchasing coffee.
Scanlon has tested the new product and said she is excited for her employees to take pride in the coffee they produce.
“At the end of the day we are here to serve the Georgetown community and if you are giving them a cup of coffee that you can’t really take pride in, it’s almost disappointing,” Scanlon said. “I think there’s this overwhelming sense of excitement for every Corp employee that works with coffee to be able to put out that cup and say, ‘Really, I hope that you enjoy it,’ but then also know that they will.”
Ben Card (COL ’17) expressed dissatisfaction with the current coffee, which he called a comfortable option that sacrificed quality.
“[The coffee] had a reputation for being bitter and maybe even a little burnt,” Card said. “It was a go-to, convenient coffee, but it felt like you were trading quality for easiness, while knowing that there was probably a way to have both.”
Gabby Johnson (COL ’18) said she currently drinks Corp coffee, even though she does not enjoy it, and is looking forward to the change in vendor.
“Personally, I am not a fan of the Corp coffee. I think the flavor is too strong and doesn’t really taste like coffee, it kind of tastes like burnt toast,” Johnson said. “I’m really looking forward to the new coffee that’s also served in Baked and Wired because it is something I enjoy and I feel like texture and the flavor is more smooth and full bodied and velvety. I would rather drink velvety than something that is burnt.”
Scanlon added that many Corp employees were dissatisfied with their own coffee as well.
“A lot of Corp employees find themselves going to other locations like Starbucks or Saxby’s and for us to be able to provide a quality cup of coffee that makes them want to come to our own service and buy too, I think that will be really meaningful,” Scanlon said.
Uncommon Grounds reopened today with the new coffee, Midnight Mug will be serving the new coffee as of Sunday and the rest of The Corp locations will reopen with the new product Monday. Moore said he is looking forward to student response.
“We want this to be a very open and candid conversation. I know that potentially one of the perceptions in the past has been that The Corp doesn’t respond well back to feedback, which I hope in general is a myth. We really want to encourage conversation,” Moore said.