The Specialty Coffee Association is doubling down on coffee research. On Thursday, November 12, the SCA announced not one but two years-long research projects they will be funding as part of their Coffee Science Foundation, both of which tackle notions of flavor but from very different perspectives.

For the first project, the Coffee Science Foundation, in conjunction with the Simonelli Group, awarded a grant to a research group comprised of professors from the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. Led by Dr. Christopher Hendon, the team will undertake a four year long deep dive into espresso extraction. For their work, Hendon along with professors Elizabeth Tomasino, Jung Kwon, Michael C. Qian, and Jamie Foster aim to identify key chemical compounds in espresso as well as analytic methods to detect them and how these markers correlate to the overall cup quality.

From there, the research group hopes to better optimize extraction parameters and develop a “dynamic coffee brew control chart.” Per the press release, “the team will develop a suite of new tools that promise to transform the way espresso is measured, including the creation of a device that will allow for the rapid assessment of coffee chemistry and flavor.”

Coffee Science Foundation

  

For the second project, the Coffee Science Foundation along with Savor Brands will be looking into how packaging affects the flavor perception in coffee. Led by a multi-disciplined group of PhD coffee researchers, the two-year study will explore further the multisensory nature of coffee. Per Peter Giuliano, SCA Chief Research Officer and Executive Director the Coffee Science Foundation:

Multisensory perception is one of the most exciting fields of consumer research, and at a time when more people are consuming coffee at home, it's essential that we understand the ways packaging influences how people experience specialty coffee.

For the project, researchers will conduct a “thorough exploration of how different packaging variables, including package shape, size, color, texture, sound, and imagery affect the sensory perception and consumer acceptance of specialty coffees, potentially across multiple geographies” while also taking an “in-depth look at consumer preference and value, including sensory attributes, preferences, price tolerance, and premiums.”

Both projects are expected to yield papers and series of lectures for various coffee-focused events like the Re:Co Symposium and the SCA’s Sensory Summit as well as modifications to current SCA handbooks. For more information about the two new initiatives, visit the Coffee Science Foundation's official website.

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