Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Lily Geismer

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Rights Information

© 2012 Maren E. Hotvedt


The development of the specialty coffee industry in the United States occurred in the latter half of the twentieth century not as an independent phenomenon but rather as a result of a series of interrelated movements that began to coalesce in the late 1960s. Direct Trade, the latest development in gourmet coffee sourcing and marketing, is an amalgam of elements of an American food revolution that gained national prominence in the 1970s, the environmental movement, and movements for social justice through conscious consumption. Direct Trade coffee is differentiated in particular by roasters' rejection of the notion of coffee as a commodity in favor of recognition that coffee is a seasonal fresh produce subject to discernible differences in quality. This thesis examines Direct Trade’s popularity in Olympia, Washington, a suburban cultural center located midway between Seattle and Portland along the I-5 corridor. It seeks to explain why and how residents of the Pacific Northwest, long distinguished for their pioneering spirit, adopted Direct Trade coffee from an early stage.