Barista Magazine

APR-MAY 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 36 of 119

D AV I S , C A L I F O R N I A The thought of spending two days tasting delicious things in Califor- nia at Sensory Summit was already appealing before I realized I'd be escaping a few subzero Minnesota winter days, and as soon as I stepped onto the University of California, Davis, campus I knew I was in the right place. It's been a long time since I've been a student in a college class- room, but this was no typical lecture series: Sensory Summit is a two- day program of comparative tastings, palate exercises, and deep dives into the science of fl avor development and perception. The vast major- ity of the "curriculum" over those days is coffee-focused, with sessions about roasting, consumer experience and expectation, brewing and extraction theory, botany and genetics, and much more; there are also cross-industry sessions exploring sensory research and principles in other tasty value-added products like chocolate and wine. Though this was my fi rst time attending the annual event, it was the fourth iteration of Sensory Summit and many of the other participants had attended the previous three—which meant plenty of folks to cue me in to what I'd gotten myself in to, and also a very promising piece of evidence that there's never going to be the same thing twice at Sensory Summit. The unifi ed Coffee Roasters Guild organizes and hosts the event every year on the campus of UC Davis, the school with one of the world's foremost food-science departments and one of the United States' six academic degree programs in viticulture. UC Davis also has a coffee-dedicated program that is being expanded and moved into its own permanent home on campus, the Coffee Center Building. While the Center is currently under renovation, there is a 1,200-square-foot Coffee Lab currently in use, chock-full of donated equipment and resources from companies like Acaia, Baratza, Kalita, and more. Physical location aside, however, the real magic of the Coffee Cen- ter studies—and a large part of where Sensory Summit gets its magic as well—is in the people who are so dedicated to coffee that they actually study it, running the experiments and doing the advanced mathematical equations that some of us in the coffee industry thought we could avoid if we became baristas or roasters. (Myself included, I'm a chaos at any math more complicated than calculating a 1:16 brew ratio.) Sensory Summit is a perfect blend of the research being done Opposite page, at top: Sensory Summit is a two-day gathering of fl avor-science professionals (and their fans) for a series of lectures, presentations, and tasting experiences. It is held at UC Davis and presented by the Coff ee Roasters Guild. Below: Volunteers (including Coff ee Roasters Guild Chair Jen Apodaca, in pink sweater) doled out things to taste throughout the weekend, many of which were delicious and some of which were (intentionally) not delicious at all. This page: Event sponsor La Marzocco set up an espresso bar in the lobby where the presentations were held, inside the Robert Mondavi Sensory Institute on the UC Davis campus. A roster of rotating roasters—as well as talented volunteers such as Kat Melheim of Coff ee People Zine—made sure there was always some fantastic coff ee to fuel the conversations. 37

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