Coffee could be considered an essential for a lot of people – especially students at university, myself included. Walking around the University of Wollongong campus, a great percentage of students and staff can be seen holding coffee cups, and the café’s always have a steady stream of students lining up to get their caffeine hit.
Taking this into consideration, I started here when thinking about a topic for my research project. My first thought was to do a study around the most popular beverages students drink on campus, because I know that there is almost everything available on campus – various teas, hot chocolate, iced coffees, energy drinks, water and chocolate milk and so on. So I started with “what do University of Wollongong students like to drink on campus, and where is the most popular café/drink outlet on campus?”.
I took this idea to the subject coordinator on Twitter and she helped to steer me in a less broad, more interesting angle.
So, for my research project I will be asking the question:
“Who drinks coffee at the University of Wollongong, where do they get their coffee and why?”.
The reason that this question is worthwhile, I think, is because there are so many places to get coffee on campus, and it would be interesting to find out why students prefer other places to others. For example, as I talked about my topic with two of my friends that go to UoW, one said he got coffee from The Terrace in building 67 because they don’t have an EFTPOS limit and there was “never any people in there”, even though his classes are primarily in building 25 which is closer to Espresso Warriors. The other friend went to Espresso Warriors because it was close to their classes (also in building 25). So even in a tiny sample group of two people, I already had two different reasons people went to specific coffee shops on campus. Therefore, I believe the results of my study will be varied and interesting.
I have done some basic research on this topic so I could come up with an action plan of how I will conduct this research and I found a similar question undertaken for a thesis by a student at the University of New Hampshire in the United States. I recognize that this study was completed in America, and so will not be totally relevant to the University of Wollongong, or my study in Australia, but it did give me some insight into how to conduct some research, and that it was possible to do this research to some level of success.
More relevant to my project, I found some Australian Bureau of Statistics chart from 2011-12 that showed that one in three (34%) of people aged between 19-30 (the primary university demographic) drink coffee. I also found a research company that undertook research on coffee consumption and found that “the proportion of Australians aged 18+ who go to a café for a coffee or tea in an average three-month period has grown gradually from 54% in the 12 months to December 2009 to 56% in the year to December 2013”. Given that there are so many café’s on campus (eight on the UoW campus alone, excluding the Innovation campus), this statistic bodes well for my study.
I aim to undertake the research through a combination of surveys, interviews and focus groups. I will be taking Kate’s advice and be producing a map of university coffee outlets. From this map, I will conduct surveys to find out who goes to what outlets – whether location impacts who goes where, or whether it is quality and so on. The interviews would be longer-form versions of the surveys in order to get more information. At this stage, I would also like to do a focus group of 10 people to see in more detail their coffee habits on campus.
(I will be excluding the Innovation campus from this study).