Fair Trade Coffee Focus of Summer Research


A Northern Michigan University student is conducting research on how location can affect the availability of fair trade coffee.

Senior secondary education/social studies double major Elise Longley from Bloomington, Minn., is one of seven NMU students who received $5,000 Anna and Rich Lundin Honors Summer Research Fellowships to work under the guidance of faculty mentors. She is collaborating with professor Michael Broadway on the project.

"Elise has been working diligently this summer on a literature review dealing with the topic of fair trade coffee," Broadway said. "A lot of previous research has focused on whether it accomplishes its primary goal of helping the producers, while other research has focused on the purchasing behavior of consumers in grocery stores. But no one, to the best of our knowledge, has examined the degree to which the availability of fair trade coffee in coffeehouses is affected by location--major metropolitan area, city, small town, etc. That is the primary thrust of Elise's research."

Unlike some other funded projects, Longley's first launched this summer, so it is still a work in progress. She said the first part has involved online research about the requirements for fair trade and non-fair trade certifications. For the second part, she will travel to three coffee shops in her home state of Minnesota (Minneapolis, Duluth and Stillwater) to explore the differences in availability of fair trade coffee.

Longley said her experiences in the Student Leader Fellowship Program and the Honors Program inspired and prepared her to conduct this research.

“We did a volunteer project in my SLFP course that was completely for our class,” said Longley. “We planned everything and organized everything and that gave me a sense of independence. My freshman year I was in a class called Food in Society and for that class, we did a project about the Marquette Farmer's Market and we helped create a grant for the Farmer's Market. That was my first time doing a research project.”

In addition to her studies, Longley is a member of the NMU track and field team, the Honors Program and the Spanish Club. Following her graduation in May 2020, she plans to join the Peace Corps.

The Lundin Summer Fellowships support NMU Honors Program students who are engaging in exceptional research.

Prepared By

Charlie Edwards
Student Writer

Categories: Around NMU, Research