• Project Title: A Cup of Culture: The Role Coffee Plays in World Culture

  • BASIS Advisor: Dr. John Hight

  • Internship Location: Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

  • Onsite Mentor: Betty J. Belanus

For millions of people in the United States, coffee is an essential start to their morning. For centuries, coffee has played an essential role in economics, but recently its effect on cultural identity has dramatically grown in importance. Coffeeshops are places of relaxation and discussion, while coffee determines tropes of American identities: the half-caff soy grande cappuccino, the local hand-brewed coffee, the gas station coffee evangelist. Throughout my project, I will explore the way coffee is used to signal identity and how advertising reinforces this. By working with the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, I will examine the way people respond to significant changes in our culture, such as the recent adaptations we have had to make due to the global pandemic. I will use my internship to further my research of how coffee culture is adapting to a time when people can’t go to coffeeshops.