Infusion, the Student Center’s coffee shop and bakery, is hoping to boost sales by using Kaldi’s coffee to make its beverages starting in January. Previously, Infusion had sold beverages made primarily with coffee roasted on-site.
Kaldi’s coffee is currently offered at several Campus Dining Services retail outlets, including J Cafe in Reynolds Journalism Institute, Catalyst Cafe in the Life Sciences Center and Bookmark Cafe in Ellis Library.
“They’ve been a partner of ours for many, many years,” CDS Marketing Manager Michael Wuest said. “And they offer training opportunities in St. Louis at their facilities. We’re happy with … the quality, the performance, just everything.”
Wuest said the prices at Infusion will be adjusted to match equivalent Kaldi’s beverages at other CDS outlets.
Although Infusion is using Kaldi’s coffee, they will not sell Kaldi’s pastries, said CDS Director Julaine Kiehn.
A notable addition to Infusion’s menu will be Firepot Nomadic Teas, the high-quality, ethically sourced loose-leaf teas offered in Kaldi’s stores.
“We’ll be able to do the loose-leaf tea, and it’s an experience,” Kiehn said. “The hot water is in a beaker. And we put the loose-leaf tea in it and set the timer to steep for the designated time, and then you can do another one, set the timer, and steep it for its designated time. So it’s a whole loose-leaf tea dining experience.”
The switch to using Kaldi’s coffee comes as part of an effort to reverse declining sales at the Student Center coffee shop.
“If you look at Infusion, we wanted to ‘infuse’ new life, and Kaldi’s had just talked with us about their interest in offering their products at more locations,” Kiehn said. “(We said,) ‘Oh, maybe that’s kind of a shot of life and a different experience we could offer that would make something unique at Infusion, in the Student Center and on campus.’”
To promote the change to Kaldi’s coffee, Wuest said wooden nickels, good for one free beverage, will be handed out in the Student Center. Educational programs run by Kaldi’s will be held at Infusion periodically, and a kickoff event will take place in the Student Center in February.
An important factor in creating higher-quality drinks, Wuest said, will be having Infusion employees participate in Kaldi’s training program, which will primarily focus on developing more advanced barista skills.
“A little bit of customer service — how to actually make the beverages the correct way, not just heat up some milk and pour in an espresso shot,” Wuest said. “There’s obviously some technique and craft involved in making coffee and espresso beverages and craft teas, so they’re providing most of that training for us.”
The coffee beans used in dining halls across campus were roasted at Infusion, according to previous Maneater reporting. Kiehn said this will no longer be the case; Breve Coffee, a Missouri roasting company, will provide coffee for residential dining facilities.
Roasting coffee in the Student Center had proven to be a tricky process. Kiehn said the switch to Kaldi’s was partially motivated by negative reactions to the strong coffee fumes created in the roasting process.
“There have been some complications with the exhausting of the aroma,” Kiehn said. “When we first started with the roaster, it left too much of the aroma in the building, and people on the lower level said they weren’t feeling well; they were getting nauseous.”
In response, the exhaust pipes were lengthened in an attempt to more efficiently route the fumes out of the building. But despite this, depending on the wind direction, the aroma would blow right back into the building. Kiehn said this restricted the ability to roast coffee at Infusion.
“So then they wanted us to put another $10,000 into what they thought would fix the exhaust, but we’re not putting more money into this,” she said.
Then, Kiehn said, when she toured Kaldi’s facilities in St. Louis, she knew a switch could be the solution.
“They’re Mizzou alums, we were already working with them, they’re all fired up about it,” she said. “We said, ‘Well, why not?’”