The Research Center of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is teaming up with the recently established 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. This ground-breaking research is underwritten with full funding from Breville, a global leader in innovative design for 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 Dr William Ristenpart, a Chemical Engineer and founder of the now-famous “Design of Coffee” curriculum, and Dr Jean-Xavier Guinard, a Professor and Sensory Scientist, 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. “It’s an incredibly ambitious piece of research,” says Breville’s Phil McKnight, “and we couldn’t be more proud to support the kind of independent, cutting-edge research UC Davis is known for, particularly in the field of coffee. Breville is a consumer focused company, and as a key objective for this project is to make the SCA standards more relevant and understandable for regular consumers as well, we are very excited to be involved.”
“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,” says Ristenpart, who co-leads the UC Davis Coffee Center with 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.” Says 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.”