Seven people stand in front of the coffee center at a ribbon cutting ceremony
A May 3 ribbon cutting officially opens the UC Davis Coffee Center. From left: Peter Giuliano, executive director of the Coffee Science Foundation and chief research officer for the Specialty Coffee Association of America; Irwin Donis-González, associate professor of cooperative extension in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering; Chancellor Gary S. May; Laudia Anokye-Bempah, Ph.D. student in biological systems engineering; Coffee Center co-director and chemical engineering professor William Ristenpart; Dean of the College of Engineering Richard L. Corsi; Professor Tonya Kuhl, chair of the department of chemical engineering. (Adrianna Owens/UC Davis

UC Davis Coffee Center Opens

The Coffee Center at the University of California, Davis, officially opened Friday, May 3. The Coffee Center is a center of excellence in the UC Davis College of Engineering and the first academic research and teaching facility in the U.S. entirely dedicated to the study of coffee. 

"Think of this center as a hub of all things coffee," Chancellor Gary S. May told attendees at the grand opening celebration. "Together, we bring rigorous coffee science and cutting-edge technology to the world stage."

The opening event, which featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, student research displays and coffee bean roasting and espresso brewing demonstrations, was attended by more than 200 supporters. Industry partners, including Peet's Coffee, which provided the founding gift to establish the pilot roastery, and private donors have contributed toward the $6 million goal to make the center possible.

The 7,000-square-foot facility provides pre- and post-harvest coffee science research locations, including experimental green bean storage, brewing laboratories, sensory and cupping laboratories, a chemical and analytical laboratory, and the pilot roastery.

While coffee is the latest addition to UC Davis' menu of expertise, which includes winebeer and tea, the center has been years in the making.

Coffee and chemical engineering

William Ristenpart and Tonya Kuhl, chemical engineering professors and co-directors of the center, first offered the popular undergraduate elective course, "The Design of Coffee," in 2013. The Coffee Lab in Everson Hall was established in 2015. The center, which secured its location in 2021 and began construction in 2022, now includes over 50 UC Davis experts from a range of academic fields.

"What began as a first-year seminar and a truly unique way to teach chemical engineering has grown into a dynamic and innovative environment where we are advancing coffee science research, teaching and mentorship," said Dean of Engineering Richard L. Corsi.

The center leverages a multidisciplinary, holistic approach to coffee science and education to address the needs of the coffee industry. Through the center, students in engineering, food science, agricultural economics and several other disciplines receive valuable training to become future leaders in the coffee industry.

"The Coffee Center has become like a second home to me," said Laudia Anokye-Bempah, a graduate student researcher in biological systems engineering. "It's where I've found my community and discovered a clear path for my future career in coffee, all thanks to the remarkable opportunities and education it offers."