April 20, 2017

SCA Launches 2-Year Research Into Fundamentals of Brewing Coffee


Brewing coffee’s about to get a lot more scientific. Yes, even more scientific than using refractometers and calculating tamping pressure. Because the SCA and UC Davis Coffee Center have just announced the start of a two-year research project into brewing fundamentals.

SEE ALSO: Coffee 101: Extraction & The “Strong Coffee” Myth

Coffee being brewed in a Kalita Wave

Coffee being brewed in a Kalita Wave; scales are used for greater accuracy.

Researching Brewing Fundamentals

Over the course of the two years, UC Davis and the SCA will be reexamining scientific assumptions, measurement tools, sensory information, and consumer research. Some of these scientific assumptions have been held since the ’50s, meaning this is an exciting opportunity to update our understanding of coffee.

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 Flavor Wheel.

While there is currently little information available about the research focus, we can expect to see new findings on extraction, profile development, brew methods and recipes, and more.

Why Is More Research Important?

The coffee industry has been marked by increasing attention to the science behind good coffee. It’s a key aspect of the third wave – in fact, projects like this are even what some consider to be “the fourth wave”.

While there is already great consensus over brew recipes and processes, new innovations constantly appear. Last year, Tetsu Kasuya won the 2016 World Brewers Cup. Yet he did so not by following the rules, but by breaking them completely: his 4-6 method allowed the brew to drip completely through the grounds between pours. Kasuya claims this improves the sweetness, brightness, complexity, and strength of his coffee.

By developing our understanding of the brewing process, we can finesse our coffee recipes and brewing techniques – allowing us to make even better coffee.

Perfect Daily Grind is not affiliated with any of the individuals or bodies mentioned in this article, and cannot directly endorse them.

Want to read more articles like this? Sign up to our newsletter!