Jazzman’s coffee is my ultimate love/hate cup of coffee at Kent State.  Its taste beats meal-plan-accepting rivals Einstein Bros. or Community Coffee, but it’s also very subtly a controversial school food service supplied brand of coffee.

We’ll get into my contentions with the school food supplier and the ethical… “mixed bag” they can be a bit later.  But first, coffee.  Compared to the nearby Starbucks or Tree City Coffee, Jazzman’s coffee may not seem like much. Against it’s other on-campus and meal plan accepting competition however, it’s the obvious winner.  It’s a cup of coffee with a  thin consistency and strong flavor.  My personal favorite cup is their dark and cocoa infused deep-thought roast. The texture is a bit too watery for my taste, and the flavor isn’t as potent as that of the other coffees mentioned above.  This is somewhat compensated for by the coffee tasting fresher, more complex, and generally consistent through the last sip.

The hard caffeine content for Jazzman’s beverages is difficult to find online.  I have reached out to Sodexo USA regarding this number and will update this review if I receive this information.  I don’t get too much of a kick from Jazzman’s coffee personally, but it’s enough to stay awake and alert for a night’s homework.  It’s not a weak cup of coffee by any means, but it may not give you the spark you’ll need for a truly unhealthy missed night’s sleep.

I will note that the Deep Thought roast must be either their most popular or least popular roast at the Kent location.  I am a night coffee drinker who tends to buy his cup right before the kiosk in the university student center closes at 9, and this is usually the only roast available.  In my view this either means that the deep thought roast is constantly being brewed to keep up with demand or goes untouched and thus is the last remaining.  It should also be mentioned that the basement of the student center (where Jazzman’s is located) usually has a very laid-back and friendly atmosphere, but I attribute this more to the university and the amenities it provides (nice tables and chairs, board games, warm lighting, pool tables, etc.) than to Jazzman’s presence there.

Now I’ll address the elephant in the room about this cup of coffee: the company selling it is an extremely controversial multinational corporation.  Sodexo (formerly Sodexho Alliance) is a corporation based out of Paris who is a food provider and facility management to many schools and other organizations.  To their credit, they take part in their fair share of health initiatives, and rightfully advertise their commitment to hiring veterans and people from minority communities. They also claim that their coffee is fair trade. This claim has proven somewhat difficult to verify, and their website section regarding this claim contains no links regarding it.  The majority of large protests against Sodexo have been regarding their lack of locally sourced food and lack of respect for workers rights regarding pay and collective bargaining.  Major colleges have had protests across the United states regarding different issues on these topics.  Seeing as I’m in many ways exactly the kind of person politically that you’d think someone in college with a coffee blog would be, I personally find it despicable when a company doesn’t respect workers right to collectively bargain.

Price is very competitive at 2.25 for a 20 ounce coffee, and the ability to pay with meal plan is incredibly convenient.

Flavor: 6.5/10

Strength: 6/10

Other factors (ethics, price, convenience, etc.): 6/10

Overall: 6.2/10

TL;DR

Tastes good – somewhat watery – mixed bag ethically – very convenient

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