A couple of months back, we told you about the coffee brewing class
being offered at the University of California Davis campus this semester. In that class, engineering students -- as well as others -- focus on the mechanics and science behind brewing a great cup of coffee. Apparently, UC Davis isn't content with offering a smattering of classes about our favorite bean. The school has recently announced the founding of the UC Davis Coffee Center
, a center devoted to the study of the science of coffee. Currently, the Coffee Center is being run and funded out of the UC Davis Foods for Health Institute, but the university hopes to make it a free-standing center, similar to its Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, in the future.
UC Davis Hosts Coffee Conference
Among the first items on the agenda for the Coffee Center is the UC Davis Coffee Center Research Conference
, held tomorrow at the UC Davis campus. The conference aims to highlight to coffee professionals the benefits of partnering with a major research institute and to serve as a catlyst for those partnerships. Among the topics to be tackled at the conference are attracting students to the study of coffee, the role of microbiology in coffee, promoting sustainable growing for coffee, research into health and coffee, and the role of sensory evaluation from wine to coffee. Attendees will also be encouraged in an open discussion forum to talk about coffee research and how to engage the industry.
Major in Coffee Studies Planned
The ultimate aim of the Coffee Center is to become a central think tank and research institute, providing scientific study to the coffee industry. There are a few other university labs in the country that focus on coffee research -- notably Texas A&M, which manages WorldCoffeeResearch.org
, and the Vanderbilt University Institute for Coffee Studies. The UC Davis Coffee Center, however, will be the first to offer a full-fledged major in Coffee Science. We happen to think the whole idea is pretty exciting on multiple levels. For one thing, we're really pretty tired of seeing what passes for "coffee research" among most academics, many of whom can't even seem to wrap their heads around the fact that there really is no absolute when it comes to how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee.
As more than one expert has noted, the specialty coffee industry today is at about the same point the domestic wine industry was in the 1970s, when the extent of most people's wine knowledge was red, white and rose. It's exciting to watch as more and more people become aware of and embrace the differences between an earthy Sumatran and a bold, in-your-face Guatemalan coffee.