A new coffee bar on the campus of TU Delft has sparked an outcry from international students due to its name.
The café is called Escobar, which is the same name as an infamous drugs criminal. It opened in August, is situated in a new student housing building and serves Colombian coffee.
Pablo Escobar was a Colombian drug lord who founded the so-called Medellín drug cartel, active in South and North America during the 1970s and 1980s.
At the height of its power, it is thought to have supplied 80% of cocaine imported to the United States. Escobar’s activities were linked to thousands of murders, and he and his cartel featured in the Netflix series, Narcos.
Now, the Latin American Student Association of Delft (Latitud) has sent a formal complaint to the university about the name.
It isn’t only the name that has caused concern. The coffee bar has emphasized that it is selling Colombian coffee, offers a stamp card called a ‘shots card’ and used imagery, including a map of its location, which students believe is similar to imagery from Narcos.
Complaints about the company date back to January this year, including comments on the company’s public Facebook page criticising the use of the name for ‘normalizing violence’, ‘glorifying a murderer’ and causing offense. It currently has more one-star reviews than any other rating.
According to TU Delft spokesperson Karen Collet, TU Delft is also unhappy with the name. However, the business is run by a private company and the space where the coffee bar is located is not owned by the university. “We take these complaints very seriously. We’ve been in contact with the entrepreneur regarding the name.” As a result of an initial discussion with TU Delft, Escobar removed “TU Delft” from the signage on the building.
Escobar declined to comment for this story, saying that they had already spoken to the media.