There has been a major focus on coffee in the world of academia over the past few years. More than just how coffee consumption affects humans, significant research is going into every part of the supply chain, from growing and processing to roasting and brewing. It wasn’t but last month that the University of California, Davis opened up their expansive 7,000-square-foot Coffee Center.

Not to be outdone, Texas A&M University has announced they will be offering an academic certificate in coffee studies, and it will be the “nation’s first” of its kind.

A&M is no stranger to coffee studies. They have had their own Center for Coffee Research and Education for the better part of a decade now, focusing more on the agricultural side of the supply chain. (They are the Aggies after all.) Now, with the new certification, they are expanding their program even further to keep pace with the demand for quality coffee production.

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The equivalent of a minor in another academic field, the Coffee Processing and Quality Certificate is awarded by the Department of Food Science and Technology but is an inter-disciplinary collaboration with the Department of Horticultural Science and the Department of Agricultural Economics.

“We will address the steps in coffee production, including harvesting, processing, fermentation, roasting and evaluating, as well as delving into coffee’s health benefits and how to extract and blend flavors,”  states Mian Riaz, Ph.D., the associate head of the Department of Food Science and Technology. “There are also opportunities for research-related directed study and for internships and study abroad.”

Course work includes topics like coffee production, processing and quality evaluation, coffee’s effect on human health and wellness, the coffee value chain, and genetics of various coffee species. Students are required to take 15 total hours of course work in order to receive certification.

“We also want the students to understand the extra effort it takes – often under humble and challenging conditions — to produce that cup of coffee they enjoy,” assistant director of the Texas A&M Center for Coffee Research and Education Eric Brenner states. “We want them to see the challenges of the small-holder grower and see how they might benefit from the extra effort of growing higher-quality specialty coffees that command a better price.”

The future of coffee production is uncertain and is going to require a concerted effort in order to ensure it’s survival. But programs like these, with a rigorous and academic bent, certainly offer a step in the right direction. For more information, visit the Coffee Processing and Quality Certificate program from Texas A&M University.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.