Arizona State University

Arizona State University (ASU) is one of the top public research universities in the United States and was recently ranked #1 in the U.S. for innovation byU.S. News and World Report. ASU uses an interdisciplinary approach to engage in collaborative action with the global community, which makes connecting the researchers and students from ASU with opportunities embedded in the Sustainable Coffee Challenge a natural partnership. With priorities including introducing greater transparency in coffee supply chains and improving the lives of coffee producers, ASU’s commitment to sustainable coffee exemplifies future opportunities for the academic community to engage in sustainability through collaboration.

Statement of support

“Arizona State University (ASU) is proud to partner with others in the Sustainable Coffee Challenge. As a model of the New American University, ASU uses an interdisciplinary approach to engage in collaborative action with the global community. We are excited to connect our top researchers and students across multiple disciplines and departments with the opportunities that will emerge from our collective interests in making coffee supply chains more sustainable, and bringing better lives to coffee farmers and their communities.”

Nonprofit or Institution
Action Networks
Partner Since April 2016

Our Commitments

ASU commits to annually involve undergraduate and graduate students in classroom and research projects involving sustainable coffee.


June 2021

ASU has a strategic partnership with Starbucks. In our ASU-Starbucks College Achievement Program [], Starbucks employees can get a free tuition to get an online degree from ASU. Since the program’s inception in 2014, more than 6,500 partners have earned first-time bachelor’s degrees.

ASU has developed and commercialized a Coffee procurement game/app that is used to teach principles of purchasing and supply chain management.

In 2021, a number of ASU faculty submitted a proposal to USAID, teaming with researchers from Central America, to model natural capital and land conversion on coffee plantations; but we were not chosen.

August 2020

1. ASU developed a coffee trade negotiation simulation for our Supply Chain Management Courses. The sim is used by organizations around the world, most recently in Dubai and Washington DC. Also, it has been used by Michigan State, Georgia Southern, and Cornell. All told, probably about 400-600 people play it each year. One of the scenarios is wherein buyers are exposed to and affected by socially irresponsible behavior of upstream coffee bean suppliers. Emergent from this were strategies and contractual arrangements that sought to address and/or mitigate risks of such irresponsible behavior.

2. ASU has initiated research collaboration on coffee migrant labor in Central America and ecological change with colleagues in Guatemala and U of A. ASU moderated a virtual public panel discussion “Coffee in the Time of COVID” by the Global Institute of Sustainability [Jun 11], with Cartel Coffee Roasters. ASU Sustainability courses continued use of coffee as empirical case study for instruction on smallholder livelihood adaptation to climate change, fair trade and trade innovation, and sustainability indicators for agriculture.

3. ASU is performing research on the role of altruism and egoism in the willingness to pay for coffee with sustainability labels. This analysis includes Fair Trade, Organic, Rainforest Alliance and Direct Trade. This project also examines the differences in efficiency of coffee farmers that produce under conventional methods and sustainability methods for the specific case of Colombia.

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