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UA's first licensed food product: A Wildcat coffee blend

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Wildcat Local Roast is the University of Arizona’s first licensed food product to hit the shelves in a collaboration between the Student Union and Shamrock Farms. 

The idea to create this coffee product started with a conversation between Todd Millay, the senior director of Arizona student unions, and Michael Omo, the executive chef of the student union.

“We’re always exploring the ability to do new things,” Millay said. He said they first questioned whether the two could make something on their own and develop product lines that are food related and then later started the two-and-a-half-year process of creating the coffee roast.

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The members of the student union already had a relationship with Shamrock Farms and came to them when looking for a bean to kick off the beginning of their product, Millay said. 

“We went to them and said we would like to have something hyper-unique that belongs to the UA only,” Millay said. “They helped us find a bean that met some flavor profiles for our chef and our retail directors.”

After they found their bean, Millay said the union relied on students' opinions to see if they favored the Wildcat roast among other coffee brands. 

“We did blind taste-testing with about 4,000 students with the Wildcat roast and a couple others to see what students liked the most,” Millay said. “[The Wildcat roast] was actually the winning bean.”

Millay said he liked the student involvement and “not only, did students pick out the bean, but a student created the design for the packaging as well.”

Stephanie Reid, a UA alumna, was offered the job to create the design for the logo of the new Wildcat Local Roast through the UA marketing department.

“They were so happy with it that they offered me the opportunity to design the rest of the packaging. So I decided to really play with Arizona themes,” Reid said.

Reid said she wanted to create something “shrewd to the identities of Wildcat’s but also give it a fresh modern spin.” She said she used the design of mountains at sunset because they are an iconic feature of Tucson, along with taking inspiration from the Arizona state flag.

Reid worked with the UA Student Union, who said they wanted the coffee brand to evoke a sense of place.

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“I believe it was their intentions to sell it in local grocery stores,” Reid said. “It was their long-term goal to sell it all up and down the West Coast, which is another reason they want it to [be] very iconic Arizona, so that a coffee-lover can go in the coffee aisle and have it stand out on the shelf. Plus, if they were a fan of UA, they probably would be more inclined to buy it.”

Millay said the intended buyer for this product is anyone who is a UA fan, alumnus, staff member, student, faculty member or even someone just visiting.

The coffee beans, which also come in Keurig cups, come in both dark and medium roast. The same group of people who established the coffee came up with a cacao bar, in medium and dark chocolate, as well.

Neysha Aguilar is part of the marketing team at the Student Union whose main focus was to make sure the designs of the product were visually appealing and to advertise it.

“We have two options, those who want their caffeine kick can get the regular roast, and other people can get decaf,” Aguilar said.

There are also new food products being produced by the same product brand, according to Millay.

“We are working on hamburger buns now. We want to wrap a ten pack for something like tailgating that can be for students or anybody to purchase at a grocery store,” Millay said. He said they will also be working on ice cream pints and gallons next.

The coffee is being sold on campus at the Park Student Union, Highland Market, The Scoop and the University Bookstore.


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