Coffee Vendor FAQs

Q: Why is UC Berkeley looking to partner with a coffee vendor?
A: For many years, departments and units on the UC Berkeley campus have independently entered into separate contracts with multiple businesses within the same category, including coffee vendors. By establishing a preferred coffee vendor, UC Berkeley will be able to engage in more coordinated efforts, which are designed to contain costs and provide new revenue and additional benefits to the campus community, such as scholarships for students, in addition to improved products and services that better meet the needs of the campus community. This will NOT be an all-exclusive agreement and current independent, small business operators on campus, which include: The Free Speech Movement Café; Haas FIFO Café; Boalt’s Café Zeb; and Yali’s are not part of this RFP.

Q: Who will be involved in the decision and implementing the partnership?
A: A committee was formed to include representation from many campus stakeholders, and this committee played an integral part of building the RFP.  Over 20 committee members have been involved in reviewing proposals and presentations as a part of the category-specific working group, which includes faculty, staff and students drawn from: The Associate Students of the University of California (ASUC), Graduate Assembly, ASUC Student Union, California Alumni Association, Recreational Sports, Cal Dining, Real Estate, Supply Chain Management, Athletics and Sustainability. These campus partners will play a key role in the decision making process. Additionally, if a partner is selected, working group representatives will continue to provide input throughout the activation process and will assist in guiding these efforts to completion.

Q: What are the factors you will use to determine the appropriate vendor?
A:  A key aspect of this proposal is ensuring that any agreement is aligned with our values as a public university and is sensitive to the concerns and needs of the campus community. Respondents to the RFP provide answers to a thorough set of qualifying questions that align with the values and mission of the university, as well as scoring criteria crafted by the working committee as part of the RFP process. The working committee is using this criteria, in addition to extensive in-person and written interviews with respondents, to score the proposals based on categories such as: product quality, variety and pricing; sustainability and sourcing practices; nutrition; financial support; enhancements for the educational experience of UC Berkeley students, such as scholarships and internships; commitment to supporting student initiatives; implementation; customer service; and community initiatives.

Q: When will the University announce its decision?
A: The working group, which is comprised of students, faculty, and staff, are reviewing proposals and presentations that we received to our RFP.  We expect to have a decision sometime during the Spring or Fall of 2016.

Q: Where will we see the presence of the preferred vendor? (e .g. will it be new buildings, existing cafés, etc.?)
A: The preferred coffee vendor will be integrated into Cal Dining cafes and residence halls. The University recognizes that there is a lot of room for expanded service and growth to better serve the campus community, which may come in the form of additional locations such as carts, trucks, or new physical locations. If new locations are identified to better meet the needs of the campus, they will be discussed, and carefully evaluated by the faculty, staff, and students on the coffee working group to ensure they are in the best interest of the campus community.

Q: What does this mean for existing coffee shops and cafes on campus?
A: This RFP applies to the coffee products that Cal Dining purchases and serves at its locations. Current campus leaseholders and auxiliary businesses such as The Free Speech Movement Café; Haas FIFO Café; Boalt’s Café Zeb; Yali’s; Equator Coffee locations at the ASUC Student Union; and the Faculty Club are not part of this RFP.  These vendors have been informed about the process and will be able to take advantage of any benefits that may come from a contract should we finalize one. This agreement will not grant exclusive operations to the preferred coffee provider.  

Q: Where will the money go from a new partnership with a coffee vendor?
A: The RFP expressed the University’s need and desire for a partner to invest in scholarships, educational enhancements and opportunities, internships, sustainability initiatives, and many other areas. Ultimately, respondents to the RFP will have the opportunity to provide a financial offer and explanation of where and how they would prefer to direct their support, however, all requests will be negotiated in partnership with members of the working group to best meet the needs of the UC Berkeley community while creating a synergy with the preferred coffee provider.

Q: What are the benefits for students?
A: Berkeley is interested in proposals that provide a direct benefit to students. Specific benefits will be determined through the negotiation process in partnership with the coffee working group, which includes student representatives. These benefits could include:

  • An annual internship and/or work-study program
  • An annual scholarship or scholarships funded by the partner
  • Support for campus sustainability initiatives, organizations, and projects specific to UC Berkeley students

Q: What is UPP doing to ensure partnerships are aligned with our values as a university, such as sustainable sourcing, health and social responsibility?
A: UPP is guided by a comprehensive governance model, which includes faculty, students and staff representatives, as part of our due diligence to identify partners and suppliers which are willing to support our mission of excellence in teaching, research and public service through sustainable and socially responsible practices. Sustainability and sourcing; community impact and reputation; and educational impact are among the factors that will be used to evaluate proposals.

In addition, UPP will be guided by or adhere to relevant  laws, policies, and guidelines including but not limited to the following:

UPP will also engage and consult with faculty members and campus experts specializing in these issues on an on-going basis.

Q: How long is the proposed agreement?
A: The RFP proposes a 10-year agreement, should a vendor be selected. This RFP will not be an all-exclusive agreement and applies only to the coffee products that Cal Dining purchases and serves at its locations.