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Coffee Equity Lab

The Coffee Equity Lab envisions a coffee industry where justice, inclusion, and equity are paramount and where business decisions are prioritized by their collective potential to foster racial equity and sustainability in the industry.

The lab offers students experiential learning opportunities that challenge them to understand and engage with the pressing issues shaping our world through the lens of the global coffee sector. The lab also collaborates with industry partners to advance progress towards equity, justice, and sustainability in the industry.

The Lab builds on a 15-year legacy of coffee research at Vanderbilt University through the Institute of Coffee Studies. It is housed at the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt University’s 13,000 square foot on-campus center for innovation.

Check out the video below for more about the motivation for the Coffee Equity Lab

Spring 2021: What’s Happening

Coffee Track at the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures Annual Summit

The Turner Family Center for Social Ventures Annual Summit gathers students, entrepreneurs, investors, educators, and more to meet, collaborate, and share ideas. At this year’s Summit, the Coffee Equity Lab is offering a coffee track, which will feature talks on coffee sustainability, racial justice, careers in coffee, and emerging technologies. The event will occur on Friday, February 19. To register, click here. To see our speaker line-up, click here.

Mapping the Coffee System

Vanderbilt University students are conducting systems thinking research projects on topics including climate change, racial inequity, and value creation in the coffee industry. Students will present their research at the Vanderbilt University Map the System Competition in April 2021 and compete for a chance to advance to the Global Finals hosted by Oxford University. VU’s Map the System Competition is scheduled for Thursday, April 15. Stay tuned for more information.

Designing for Coffee Equity

A group of students are using human-centered design to explore and create ethical coffee storytelling practices for the Coffee Equity Lab. To begin this journey, students are focusing on developing and testing opportunities here in the Vanderbilt and broader Nashville communities.

How to Make Almost Anything & Make it Matter: Coffee

As part of Dr. Kevin Galloway’s Mechanical Engineering course, “How to make almost anything and make it matter,” VU undergraduate students are working with a coffee-focused non-profit to develop innovations in coffee processing. These innovations will enable small coffee farmers to assess the quality and characteristics of their coffees. With this knowledge, coffee farmers will be able to make informed decisions about to whom, and at what price, they’ll sell their coffee.

Past Events: Recordings


  • Fall 2020 – Third Wave Coffee, Maya Farmers, and the Creation of Value
    Presented by: Dr. Ted Fischer
    Watch Recording
  • Fall 2020 – On Being Black in Coffee
    Presented by: Alicia Adams & Phyllis Johnson
    Watch Recording
  • Fall 2020 – Coffee’s Interdisciplinary Intersections
    Presented by: Dr. Elizabeth Meadows, Dr. Peter Martin, Dr. Tiffany Patterson, Dr. Amanda Little, Dr. Holly Tucker
    Watch Recording

On-Campus Partners



Interested in Partnership? 

Are you a Vanderbilt faculty or center interested in partnering with the Coffee Equity Lab? Or, are you coffee industry professional, organization, or business interested in partnering with the Coffee Equity Lab to advance equity and sustainability in the sector? Contact to learn more about partnership opportunities.