Costa Rican Cravings
Reported by Megan Stewart
Costa Cup, one of George Fox University’s (GFU) only student-run businesses on campus, began with three seniors thirsty for a company idea to pursue in their marketing class.
Now, with over 200 Instagram followers, an active consumer base, business hours, a location, and a legitimate contract drawn up with the Bon Appetite staff, Costa Cup appears to have become more than just a school project. It’s become a success.
Costa Cup, founded by Sadie Vargas, Nate Hyatt, and Bri Borror for Marketing 480 (Marketing Management and Strategy), is a coffee company with several goals: to provide George Fox students with a good product, to immerse their customers in the Costa Rican way of life, and to raise money for the orphanage Hogar de Vida, all while spreading the love of Jesus.
Open Mondays and Wednesdays from 8-10 a.m. in front of the Bruin Den, Costa Cup provides one flavor of drip-coffee, made with ethically sourced beans harvested from Vargas’ family plantation in Costa Rica. Vargas’ father, Ronald Cortez, runs Cortez Coffee, which supplies Costa Cup with their materials. Vargas has no personal connection to the Hogar de Vida, only that its located is in Costa Rica, near her family’s plantation. All net proceeds go directly to the orphanage.
The charity aspect of the business could account for the steep price: $2.50 per 12 oz. When compared to Costa Cup’s competitor, the Bruin Den, whose own product falls under $2.00, the cost may raise some eyebrows.
However, Costa Cup’s mission to give back has always been at the forefront, not its competitive potential. Even though it was for a school assignment, the teammates agreed early on that they wanted to create something meaningful.
“We didn’t just want to make t-shirts or something like that or do something random,” said Hyatt, one of two marketing majors in the group (Vargas is in management). “We wanted to be able to add some personal aspect.”
Knowing GFU’s student body well, the team concluded that the characteristics that might make Costa Cup less popular at other schools or venues — such as cost, lack of staff, and limited hours — wouldn’t hinder their success, but rather bolster it. People at GFU, Hyatt said, appreciate charity work.
“Fox being a faith-based university, we know that students are going to be more likely to want to give and to donate to something that’s deeper than just the product itself and something that’s supporting a good cause,” said Hyatt.
Their assumption proved correct. Costa Cup broke even during their first quarter as a company, the main objective for their marketing class. This is also an impressive achievement for coffee businesses, which generally don’t see much profit when they first start out.
Even with the group’s hopes, Hyatt admits they never expected to garner as much support as they have now. Hyatt even gave a mock business proposal on Costa Cup in his Professional Writing class once he realized how well they had designed the company.
“Once we got the momentum rolling, we realized we could totally make it a real business,” Hyatt said. “I don’t think any of us are going to be moving in that direction, but it would definitely be plausible.”
Hyatt predicts that Costa Cup will be closing forever at the end of the semester, before finals week. However, he’s not against his partners pursuing something further with the business if they so choose. Perhaps Costa Cup’s success will pave the way for future student-run companies on campus.