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Thursday, July 18, 2024

UC Davis Coffee Center, Specialty Coffee Association sign two-year research partnership


Research to rewrite guidelines of coffee industry

UC Davis Coffee Center is pairing up with the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) in a two-year partnership to reevaluate the foundation and standards of the coffee brewing industry through new research projects. As coffee remains a staple in the lives of individuals across the globe, research efforts have been lacking in the industry since MIT Professor Earl E. Lockhart’s research was published back in the 1950s.

“The coffee community is thrilled to engage with UC Davis on this important work,” said Peter Guiliano, the chief research officer for the SCA, in an announcement made about the partnership. “We’re excited to see what surprises are in store for us.”

The SCA is a nonprofit organization that represents coffee producers and employees around the world. Members of the SCA make up a community of more than 5,000 coffee professionals and businesses, all dedicated to advancing the techniques, knowledge, process and sustainability of specialty coffee’s future.

Research to be conducted at UC Davis has the potential to revolutionize the foundational ways roasters, growers and even baristas approach coffee — from harvesting beans to delivering coffee into the mugs of coffee lovers everywhere.

Research efforts will be co-led by two UC Davis professors, William Ristenpart and Jean-Xavier Guinard.

Ristenpart is a chemical engineer and the founder of ECM 1 — The Design of Coffee class. Ristenpart has been an avid coffee drinker since high school but didn’t develop a taste for the more artisanal quality of coffee until 2012, which led him to design a class around this budding interest. Students who first took The Design of Coffee seminar in 2013 were able to learn more about the fundamentals of roasting and brewing coffee as Ristenpart further refined his interest in the subject.

What began as a seminar is now the most popular non-required elective course at UC Davis, according to the Ristenpart Research Group website.

“We hope to modernize and greatly expand something known as the Coffee Brewing Control Chart, which was originally developed in the 1950s, before even the invention of drip coffee machines, and hasn’t been reexamined since then,” Ristenpart said via email.

While Ristenpart’s research focuses on the physical and chemical aspects of coffee and how that relates to coffee drinkers’ experiences of different flavors, Guinard is focused on the sensory aspects of coffee research.

Guinard, along with his work in coffee research, has been involved in studies that have revolutionized both the wine and beer industries. Furthermore, Guinard aided in designing the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel and is a professor and sensory scientist at UC Davis.

“This will be a unique multidisciplinary piece of research that will explore the effects of the brewing method on brewing physics and coffee sensory quality,” Guinard said in an SCA press release.

This partnership will mark the first large-scale research efforts coordinated by UC Davis’ Coffee Center. Both professors and their teams of research assistants look forward to the next two years and learning more about the caffeinated beverage enjoyed by so many.

Written by: Ally Russell — campus@theaggie.org


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