Earlier this May, the University of California Davis opened its Coffee Center with an event celebrating the hard work and sponsors who helped make their new building possible. Originating with a single class in 2013 offered by professors William Ristenpart and Tonya Kuhl as part of their chemical engineering program, UC Davis’ new Coffee Center building is now a 7,000-square-foot facility that houses over 50 UC Davis experts in agriculture, engineering, food science, and other disciplines. 

early days

“In the early days, I remember bringing a Linea Mini down to their campus so I could make espresso for the students,” recalls Tim O’Connor, La Marzocco board member. The new facility, however, is outfitted with a full espresso lab of La Marzocco espresso machines to help students learn more about how coffee is brewed. “I learned about espresso from the ground up. I was lucky enough to meet some of the masters of espresso at the time. UC Davis is now opening a massive door to institutional coffee knowledge.” 

UC Davis is known as an agriculture and engineering-focused school, and as the Coffee Center began offering more classes in 2015, more departments around the college became involved. While engineering students were learning how to design a coffee brewer with only a limited amount of energy available, sensory science students would come in to taste the results of the newly designed equipment. 

“We are inspired by the UC Davis Coffee center, its purpose, the creative students and its faculty. A mutual collaboration with coffee that we believe will be a benefit to all of us within the coffee sector,” says Kent Bakke, La Marzocco partner. “We are honored to be a part of this adventure as the Coffee Center has always taken espresso coffee seriously from an engineering and sensory standpoint. We particularly appreciate the important component of the Coffee Center being the precious human element at every point in the chain from seed to cup.” 

all-encompassing approach

The new building looks to bring a holistic approach to coffee science, including pre- and post-harvest agricultural studies, green coffee storage, brewing laboratories, cupping and sensory laboratories, chemical and analytical laboratories, and even a pilot roastery. As it stands, the UC Davis Coffee Center is the only academic institution in the United States that has studies in all aspects of coffee growing, roasting, brewing, and tasting. 

“A lot of these studies have been done by individual companies in the past,” mentions O’Connor. “Repeating that research here, however, gives it the credibility of academia and preserves these findings for the entire world.”

accessible education

Supporting the UC Davis Coffee Center is important for La Marzocco, whose own Accademia del Caffé Espresso in Pian di San Bartolo, Italy, features multiple brewing and sensory labs to promote research and advancements in coffee. By outfitting the UC Davis Coffee Center with espresso equipment, La Marzocco can ensure that future generations can experience the wonder of espresso with the most technologically advanced equipment. 

“We’re proud to help the UC Davis Coffee Center bring their excellent focus on agriculture and engineering to espresso,” says Guido Bernardinelli.

However, the most important part about coffee is how it brings people together. To highlight that notion, UC Davis served affogatos to the gathered crowd, showcasing espresso made from the program’s in-house roasted coffee pulled on a La Marzocco espresso machine. 

You can visit UC Davis’s Coffee Center’s website here