8:15 at Boatwright’s new vendor is creating more buzz about caffeine on campus than finals season last year.

La Colombe Coffee Roasters is famous for sourcing direct-trade coffees and creating relationships with farmers themselves, Nia Williams, manager of 8:15 at Boatwright, wrote in an email. Todd Carmichael, one of La Colombe's owners, is also the co-founder of the Haiti Coffee Academy, which works to educate people through revitalizing the coffee industry and community in Haiti.

Even more, many of the La Colombe coffees support the National Park Foundation’s Keep America Wild initiative, Williams wrote.

According to the La Colombe website, La Colombe seeks to protect the United States' natural and historical treasures. One of its methods of contributing to national park preservation is donating 10 cents to the National Park Foundation for every specially marked box of its Lyon-flavor coffee.

Senior Paul Knepple said he had appreciated La Colombe’s global philanthropy initiatives. 

“I think people probably wonder why [8:15] made the switch over, but if people know something like that, I feel like that’ll make people look at it in a more positive light,” Knepple said. “It’s definitely cool to have somebody who cares about things like that.”

Senior Katie Pokorny, student manager at 8:15, said she had felt like people could make a difference by choosing to drink La Colombe because of its mission.

Even aside from the praise for philanthropy, people seem to overwhelmingly prefer La Colombe’s freshness and flavor to that of Starbucks coffee from years prior.

“I consider myself an avid coffee drinker, but not really like Starbucks,” junior Pamela Mulvaney said. 

Mulvaney said she had specifically found La Colombe’s mocha better than the mochas she had gotten from Starbucks.

Pokorny said that despite using different beans -- including specialty espresso beans -- all the drinks were made the same. Nevertheless, she too preferred La Colombe.

“I’m a huge fan of coffee,” Pokorny said, “so I was pretty happy that we were moving away from Starbucks. And I really like that it’s fresh.”

Baristas grind the beans themselves now, Pokorny said, so everything -- including the iced coffee -- is fresher.

8:15 also sells the La Colombe canned coffee and lattes, which Knepple loved, he said.

“They’re super convenient if you’re in a rush,” Knepple said. “And it’s a lot of caffeine, honestly.” 

Mulvaney said she had enjoyed them as well, but was not ready for the two cups of caffeine packed into the can. 

“I just didn’t realize that there is like two cups of coffee,” she said. “I wish they had some that was just the normal amount because I don’t always want to drink like two cups worth of caffeine, but I guess that’s why they have their other options.”

With the exceptions of the beans being used, the drinks from previous years will still be available and made the same, Pokorny said. The frappuccino, a Starbucks-specific drink, is the only exception, but the staff is working to bring it back.

There are also additions to the drink menu. With La Colombe, there is now a mint tea lemonade offered, more flavor syrups to choose from and beans available for purchase, Pokorny said.

The move away from Starbucks was ultimately because of issues such as back orders, products being out of stock and aging equipment, all of which resulted from the food service division for Starbucks being sold to a different company over a year ago, Williams wrote.

“We waited over a year for these growing pains to subside but decided to start taking bids from other coffee companies who could provide us the service that matches our University’s mission, vision, values and goals,” Williams wrote.

With this change, 8:15 will have more independence and identity.

“The cafe was colloquially referred to as the 'Starbucks,' even while being our own entity,” Williams wrote. “Now, having the freedom to create our own specials with a wide array of flavors, have staff picks for brewed coffee, and even have over 20 coffee roasts to choose from has been the most fun part of the transition.”

Contact features writer Cate Bonner at cate.bonner@richmond.edu.