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Coffee Equity Lab

The Coffee Equity Lab at the Wond’ry combines research, practice, and teaching to pursue meaningful and coordinated resolutions to equity challenges for all actors across the coffee supply chain.

The Lab also engages students in experiential learning opportunities through which they may learn about and engage in the pressing social and ecological challenges shaping our world through the lens of the global coffee sector.

The Lab carries forward the Vanderbilt Institute of Coffee Studies‘ 15-year legacy of coffee research. It is housed in the Social Innovation Practice at the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt University’s 13,000 square foot on-campus center for innovation.



We work with industry to envision coffee’s more equitable future and the many steps we will each need to take to get there. Then, using equity-centered design and systems thinking, we design meaningful opportunities to link together coffee stakeholders’ unique roles, responsibilities, and resources in pursuit of a more equitable and sustainable coffee industry for all coffee actors, both human and more-than-human. 


We facilitate publicly accessible and inclusive conversations about coffee’s greatest equity challenges. In planning these events, we strive to pass the mic to individuals whose perspectives and experiences are not regularly included in public conversations about coffee’s greatest equity challenges.


We use systems research to advance understandings of the root causes and effects of coffee’s current equity and sustainability challenges. Through this research, we identify levers of change and develop guidance courses of action that may be undertaken by coffee professionals and communities with different roles, responsibilities, and resources in the sector.


In everything we do, we strive to increase equitable access to research-driven educational resources, helping ensure that all actors in the sector–irrespective of race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, or ability–are able to make informed decisions that guide them towards reaching their fullest potential as members of the global coffee community.


Current opportunities to connect with us and get involved are listed below!


  • Check out recordings of our Fall 2021 Coffee Equity Conversation Series. Scroll down.
  • Apply to the Grounds for Empowerment Directed Study in partnership with Emory University’s Transparent Trade Coffee Initiative. To learn more about Grounds for Empowerment, click here.
  • Study Coffee Abroad in Colombia via a Study Abroad Program focused on Race & Identity. Launching Fall ‘2022.




Fall 2021 Coffee Equity Conversation Series Archive

  • Equitable Access to Information & Education, Bringing forth the Alternative Future. Recording Coming Soon.
    With speakers: Veronica Grimm, Founder of Glitter Cat Barista, Jessica Easto, Author of Craft Coffee, A Manual and Julio Guevara, Director of Producer Roaster Forum and Chief Operating Officer at PDG Media. Moderated by Brian Gaffney. 
  • Information and Education Access as a Producing-Side Change Agent. Watch Recording.
    With speaker Marceline Budza, Founder and President of Democratic Republic of Congo-based Rebuilding Women’s Hope. 
  • Information and Education Access as a Producing-Side Change Agent. Recording Coming Soon.
    With speakers Alejandro Cadena, CEO and Co-Founder of Colombia-based Caravela Coffee, Isabel Vilela, coffee gender equity activist, & Smayah Uwajeneza, Gorilla’s Coffee Brand Ambassador & Rwandan Coffee Advocate. Moderated by Ever Meister, coffee journalist & consultant.  
  • Information and Education Access as a Consumer-Side Change Agent. Watch Recording.
    With speakers Brandon Bir, Director of Sustainability at Crimson Cup Coffee, Cheyenne Xochitl Love, Founder of Queer Wave Coffee, & Darrell Baskin, Retail Educator at Groundwork Coffee. Moderated by Ellie Hudson, Independent Coffee Industry Consultant. 
  • Access to Information and Education: A Coffee Equity Challenge. Watch Recording.
    With speakers Dr. Kate Fischer, Honors College, CU Boulder, Vera Espíndola Rafael, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Colombia-based Azahar Coffee Company, & Maggy Kemunto, Founder of Kahawa 1893 and third-generation Kenyan coffee farmer. Moderated by Vava Angwenyi, Founder of Kenya-based Vava Coffee. 

Fall 2020 Coffee Equity Conversation Series Archive

  • Fall 2020 – Third Wave Coffee, Maya Farmers, and the Creation of Value. Watch Recording.
    With speaker Dr. Ted Fischer. 
  • Fall 2020 – On Being Black in Coffee. Watch Recording.
    With speakers Alicia Adams & Phyllis Johnson. 
  • Fall 2020 – Coffee’s Interdisciplinary Intersections. Watch Recording.
    With speakers Dr. Peter Martin, Dr. Tiffany Patterson, Dr. Amanda Little, Dr. Holly Tucker. Moderated by Dr. Elizabeth Meadows. 
  • Recordings from the Spring 2021 Coffee Track at the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures Summit Coming Soon.


The work of the Coffee Equity Lab wouldn’t be possible without partners in higher education and industry. More information on our current partners coming soon! Thanks to our 2021-22 sponsors who are helping make our work possible!


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, or sponsoring, the Coffee Equity Lab to advance equity for all actors in the sector? Contact Hanes Motsinger, Co-Founder of the Coffee Equity Lab to learn more about opportunities.


Watch the brief video below to learn a bit more about the motivation for the Coffee Equity Lab.