BeanScene Magazine

SCA announces new brewing research at UC Davis

From the April 2017 issue.

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) research centre is teaming up with the recently established UC Davis Coffee Centre to embark on a two-year project to re-evaluate the scientific assumptions, measurement tools, sensory information, and consumer research surrounding coffee brewing.

The basic principles of extraction are the basis for widely used tools and resources with the coffee industry, such as the coffee brewer’s control chart and the coffee brewer’s handbook. These tools are based primarily on scientific research led in the 1950s by MIT Prof. Earl E. Lockhart, then director of an organisation called the Coffee Brewing Institute.

This new project will be the first major piece of coffee research undertaken at the UC Davis Coffee Center. It will be co-led by Dr. William Ristenpart, a Chemical Engineer and founder of the Design of Coffee curriculum, and Dr. Jean-Xavier Guinard, a Professor and Sensory Scientist who helped design the new Coffee Taster’s Flavour Wheel. 

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,” William says. “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.”

Jean-Xavier adds that his will be a "unique multidisciplinary piece of research”. “[It] will explore the effects of the brewing method on brewing physics and coffee sensory quality,” he says.

This research is driven through the research centre of the SCA, a global community of more than 5000 coffee professionals and businesses. It will be supported with full funding from global appliance brand Breville.

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

For more information about the UC Davis Coffee Centre, visit

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