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Monday, October 18, 2021

Peet’s Coffee donates $250,000 to fund a pilot roastery at new Coffee Center on campus

LUCY KNOWLES / AGGIE
LUCY KNOWLES / AGGIE

Center will be devoted to post-harvest coffee research, engineering

Peet’s Coffee recently announced a gift of $250,000 to UC Davis to fund the Peet’s Coffee Pilot Roastery, which will be part of the upcoming new Coffee Center on campus.

The project was initiated by faculty and staff within the engineering department, specifically those involved in ECM 1: The Design of Coffee, which started off as a freshman seminar but became a full-fledged general education course in Winter Quarter of 2014.

Bill Ristenpart, professor of chemical engineering, will lead the Coffee Center and Peet’s coffee pilot roastery. He will be accompanied by colleagues Tonya Kuhl, professor of chemical engineering, and Jean-Xavier Guinard, professor and sensory scientist in the Department of Food Science and Technology.

Vincent Dagenese, a Peet’s Coffee representative, said that Peet’s Coffee chose to grant UC Davis with this gift because they believe there is no better place to continue working on classic craft roasting.

“We wanted to spread the knowledge and love for coffee, and [UC Davis is] a good place to do that,” Dagenese said. “The main purpose is to keep the legacy of original craft roasting alive. With some of the coffee companies today, the coffee is not original and not high quality, so we want to keep it as original as possible, evoke a positive aspect and keep the movement alive.”

Andy Fell, associate director of news and media relations at UC Davis, believes this was a very beneficial gift for students and a chance to expand the research on coffee roasting.

“It was a very generous donation by Peet’s Coffee,” Fell said. “They did it because they believe it is important to have a research institution like ours to study the science of coffee [and] it is something beneficial for the students taking the Design of Coffee Class here at [UC] Davis.”

The new center will be located on the north side of the UC Davis Arboretum, alongside the campus winery, pilot brewery and food-processing facilities at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. After completion, the center will not only include the Peet’s Coffee Pilot Roastery, but also office space, an experimental green-coffee storage facility, a sensory analysis laboratory and advanced analytical labs. The Coffee Center will be the first multidisciplinary university research center in the the world dedicated to post-harvest studies of coffee.

Researchers at the center will study the microbiology of green coffee fermentation, sensory and consumer science and the chemistry behind roasting and brewing.

“The Coffee Center will generate unparalleled teaching, research and collaborative opportunities for our students, scientists and engineers, as well as for industry partners and visitors from around the world,” said Jennifer Sinclair Curtis, dean of the College of Engineering in a statement for UC Davis News Media and Relations. “We are proud that Peet’s Coffee is one of our founding partners in this bold initiative. We fully expect the center will do for coffee what the renowned UC Davis wine and brewing programs have accomplished on behalf of those industries.”

Frances Radcliffe, fourth-year design major, has previously taken the Design of Coffee class and enjoyed learning about the culture and importance of coffee.

“Learning about how coffee is made is extremely important because it is the most widely used ‘drug’ in the world,” Radcliffe said. “A partnership with Peet’s Coffee is beneficial to our campus because working with one of the main coffee store chains in the nation would allow our campus to share and benefit from coffee research and information that they already have, and in turn we can help them to know even more as well.”

 

Written by: Demi Caceres – campus@theaggie.org

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