Mark this date: Tuesday, March 12th, 2014. It may well be the beginning of the biggest coffee revolution in recent history.
World-renowned for its horticulture, viticulture, and other agricultural related programs, UC Davis is now expressing interest in the world of coffee. On Tuesday, they hosted the first annual Coffee Research Conference, inviting coffee professionals from around the world to attend. The event was also open to the general public.
University professors of various disciplines – chemical engineering, genomics, microbiology, microbial interactions – presented their existing work in wine, cheese, and milk science, and how their research helped advance the knowledge infrastructure of those fields. An enormous opportunity exists in the coffee industry, which falls some 40 years behind the wine industry in its research development. The end goal, in the eyes of the university, seemed to be a state-of-the-art coffee facility modeled after the Davis Mondavi Wine Institute, research opportunities in coffee for faculty, and a coffee major offered to undergraduate students, again modeled after the viticulture program already in place.
After what was essentially a very convincing and intellectual sales pitch from the UC Davis faculty, the floor was given to coffee professionals in attendance by way of a panel discussion. Faculty members were very interested in the potential and direction we, as industry representatives, see in such a research program. A short list of issues that were raised included Roya (coffee rust) research and solutions, management and ecological conversion of waste, post-harvest processing advancements, roasting chemistry research, coffee plant research, and agronomic/social economic impact and advancement. The tone shifted from jovial to pleading to downright desperation. One thing was unmistakably clear: the industry is very interested in expanding the intellectual infrastructure of coffee, and we can’t wait to get started.
After the conference, attendees were given a tour of the very impressive Mondavi Wine Institute facility, the design of which is fully self-sustainible. It also held a state-of-art beer brewing facility and milk chemistry lab.