Campus Coffee Biz Is No Small Beans

Opportunity Knocks With Joint Davis-Sacramento Agreement

Photo: Coffee beans
The Davis and Sacramento campuses are seeking bids for the provision of some 32,000 coffee beans a year.

How Much Coffee Do We Drink?

Dining Services on the Davis campus operates two licensed Starbucks stores (in the Silo and the Activities and Recreation Center) and serves Starbucks coffee at other locations (at King Hall, for example). Food and Nutrition Services serves Java City coffee on the Sacramento campus.

Of course, we also have another big player in campus coffee: the ASUCD Coffee House, which operates independent of the university and is not a partner in the request for proposals for a new coffee contract. However, the university is requiring bidders to leave open the opportunity for the ASUCD and its Coffee House to take advantage of the coffee price that is negotiated in the new contract.

The Coffee House buys more beans than anyone on the Davis campus: 15,000 pounds a year, enough for 480,000 8-ounce cups.

Add that to the million cups served by Dining Services and Food and Nutrition Services, and we have the answer to how much coffee we drink at UC Davis: nearly 1.5 million 8-ounce cups a year!

Let’s grab a cup of coffee and have a chat about … coffee. Or, more specifically, coffee procurement by Dining Services on the Davis campus, and Food and Nutrition Services on the Sacramento campus.

Together, these two university units need about 32,000 pounds of beans a year, enough for 1 million 8-ounce cups of coffee.

That’s 1 million cups of opportunity for coffee companies and the university — as in, what can those companies do for the university, specifically for:

  • Students — Internships and scholarships, work-study programs, investment in student-led sustainability initiatives, and support for the ASUCD Pantry
  • Academics — Support for the coffee science program
  • UC Davis Health System — Support for the children’s hospital and programs, and student scholarships and support, as well as Community and Health Professionals Together (a training program for pediatric residents, whereby they experience community-based child advocacy and community partnership building)
  • Intercollegiate Athletics —  Signage across multiple venues, for example

UC Davis is asking for all of this — and for a price on coffee — in a request for proposals for a joint agreement covering both campuses. By working together, the campuses represent a greater value to coffee companies.

“We have the opportunity to reinvent our relationship with who’s providing our coffee,” said Kraig Brady, director of Hospitality and Dining Services on the Davis campus. “And we are looking out for the overall benefit of the university.”

This is only the second Davis campus-Sacramento campus joint venture having to do with food and-or beverages. The first, negotiated a few years ago, gives Pepsi a near-exclusive contract to sell, advertise and promote its beverages and other products at UC Davis.

The UC Davis-Pepsi Beverages Co. contract, which started in 2014 and runs for 10 years, brings the university $1 million a year for student services and programs, including scholarships, sustainability projects and more.

‘Mobile and kiosk’ solutions

Bids for the coffee contract are coming in now, for review by the Coffee Partnership Committee, which hopes to have a decision by the first of the year. We could end up with Starbucks. Or Peet’s. Or someone else. Or a combination. It all depends on the proposals.

On the Davis campus, Starbucks has a contract now with Sodexo, which provides dining commons and retail food service. But, as announced earlier this year, the Davis campus has elected to convert Dining Services to a university-run operation. So, when Sodexo’s contract expires, so does the Starbucks contract, which takes in the Starbucks-licensed locations at the Silo and ARC, and “We Proudly Serve Starbucks” locations elsewhere around the campus.


Kraig Brady, director of Hospitality and Dining Services on the Davis campus, welcomes feedback by email to

The request for proposals gives the following date on annual sales: ARC Starbucks, $1.18 million; and Silo Starbucks, $941,000.

In the new round of bidding, UC Davis is asking for coffee service in brick-and-mortar locations (like the Silo and ARC), as well as “mobile and kiosk solutions.”

In regard to the Davis campus, the request for proposals asks for a mobile solution that can provide a full-service retail experience portably on campus, and notes that the mobile solution will be used across campus with a focus on supporting special events and various athletic venues.

The medical center requires a kiosk-based solution that can provide a full-service retail experience with limited space within the main hospital building or immediate vicinity.

Follow Dateline UC Davis on Twitter.

Primary Category