University of California Davis offers one of the best, most popular electives ever in Chemical Engineering! It’s the undergraduate course “The Design of Coffee: An Engineering Approach” designed by Professors William Ristenpart and Tonya Kuhl.
The course, has gained worldwide recognition and interest and has been the seed for the development of the UC Davis Coffee Center with the goal of developing a center of coffee knowledge comparable to the wine and beer programs there.
The course’s popularity has encouraged some 2,000 students to take the class go each year. 12 Encore grinders do all the grinding for the course. Since the Fall of 2015 we have provided grinders into the Chemical Engineering Lab at UC Davis for the student’s use.
Kyra Kennedy, CEO and me, Joyce Klassen, Marketing Manager, had another fun visit to UC Davis for the last day of classes and to watch the students during their finals. The goal is to make the best tasting coffee while using the least amount of energy! Students worked in teams of three. They roasted their own coffees, mostly blends, the previous week, and the task this week was to grind and brew on Aeropress, Clever or French Press – their roast, their brew method. The whole class got to blind taste and score one another’s coffee. It was wonderful to see the energy of the teams, all the different brewing techniques and especially the student’s engagement with this approach to learning chemical engineering.
We were equally impressed, (even ourselves!) at the Encores and thinking about what a great tool they have been for the students. We agreed it would be fun to try to put some calculations around the volume of coffee that each grinder may have ground over the last few years!
Bill Doering is the Lab Manager and Department Safety Coordinator and responsible for the maintenance of the grinders. Some time ago he told us I want to “let you know that I am thrilled to have the Baratza grinders in the lab and have become very familiar with the great support/parts that Baratza offers. We’ve gone through many, many of the upper burr retaining rings and had a few stripped gears (there’s always somebody that wants to put green beans in the grinder) – but have always been able to repair the grinders and put them back into service. I’ve also utilized the support videos and had some email exchanges with Baratza support to help with these repairs; it is refreshing to have these guides and the ability to replace essentially every single part (and replacement parts are so reasonably priced!). I wish all of our other equipment vendors operated under the same philosophy!”
Kyra and I had the opportunity to learn more about the development of the Coffee Center and we look forward to our ongoing support of the coffee programs at UC Davis.