Industry Supports UC Davis Coffee Research

The Research Center of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is teaming up with the UC Davis Coffee Center to embark on a two-year project to re-evaluate the scientific assumptions, measurement tools, sensory information, and – most importantly – consumer research that forms the foundation of the coffee industry’s fundamental understanding of coffee brewing.

Students in the UC Davis “Design of Coffee” class learn engineering principles from roasting and brewing coffee.

This research is underwritten with funding from Breville, which produces high-end appliances, including coffee and tea equipment.

The fundamentals of coffee brewing are critically important to the coffee industry – the basic principles of extraction are the basis for widely used tools and resources like the Coffee Brewer’s Control Chart and the Coffee Brewer’s Handbook. These widely embraced tools are based primarily on scientific research led in the 1950s by MIT Professor Earl E. Lockhart, then director of an organisation called the Coffee Brewing Institute.

The research project – the first major piece of coffee research to be undertaken at the UC Davis Coffee Center – will be co-led by Professor William Ristenpart, co-founder of the now-famous UC Davis “Design of Coffee” curriculum, and Professor Jean-Xavier Guinard, who helped design the new Coffee Taster’s Flavour Wheel. Together, the two scientists have designed a comprehensive research program with chemistry, sensory, and consumer research elements, aimed at updating, revising, and improving the fundamentals of coffee brewing science.

“As a chemical engineer, I was fascinated by the opportunity to apply current science to some of the problems the coffee industry faces every day,” said Ristenpart, who co-leads the UC Davis Coffee Center with Professor Tonya Kuhl and Guinard. “We aspire to do for coffee what UC Davis has done for the wine and beer industries: to dramatically advance the state of understanding of this important beverage.”

Said Guinard: “This will be unique multidisciplinary piece of research that will explore the effects of the brewing method on brewing physics and coffee sensory quality.”

This research is driven through the research center of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), a global community of more than 5000 coffee professionals and businesses.

“The coffee community is thrilled to engage with UC Davis on this important work,” says Peter Giuliano, Chief Research Officer for the SCA, “and we’re excited to see what surprises are in store for us.”

Adapted from a news release issued by the Specialty Coffee Association. 

More information

UC Davis Coffee Center

Students Learn Engineering Through Coffee

Arabica Coffee Genome Sequenced

Peet’s Coffee Pledges $250,000 to Advance Coffee Research



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