Flavor Chemistry Lab
Flavor is the single factor that drives the entire coffee industry. Marketing decisions and consumer drivers and wholly influenced by the flavor and aroma of coffee, in both positive as well as negative ways. The understanding and ability to measure coffee flavor and aromas are central to being able to make agronomic, processing, roasting, and brewing decisions that maximize the positive traits and minimize those negative characteristics. The Flavor Chemistry Lab, under the direction of Dr. Chris Kerth, uses gas chromatography/mass spectrometry/olfaction to measure and characterize the aroma chemical compounds of coffee and coffee products. This technology allows producers to determine the exact chemical compounds that are responsible for the flavor and aroma traits of the coffee which can then be directly correlated to human sensory traits elucidated using the coffee lexicon. The ultimate goal of this lab is to be able to determine the origin of specific flavors and aromas in order to determine what factors may have caused each one to be present and then take steps to improve on the overall coffee flavor and aroma that will fit each consumer’s needs.
Coffee “Farm” at AgriLife Center at Weslaco
The one-third acre coffee farm was designed to maintain germplasm and provide plant material for researchers learning about genetic variability in Arabica coffee and studying coffee genomics to combat diseases such as coffee leaf rust and resistance to abiotic stresses, such as drought and heat. The farm, which is supervised by Dr. Juan Anciso, was established in August 2015. Approximately 200 coffee plants, representing the most important Arabica varieties from all over the world, are grown under drip irrigation and shade cloth Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, TX. The plant material had been collected as part of a joint venture of the World Coffee Research, Texas A&M University System and the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, which is part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, in College Station. Click here to learn more about the coffee farm in Weslaco.
Sensory Science Evaluation Laboratory
The Sensory Science Evaluation Laboratory is currently one of only two places in the world (the other one is the Center for Sensory Analysis and Consumer Behavior at Kansas State University) where a trained panel can evaluate coffee sensory characteristics using the World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon. The lexicon, which encompasses 163 tastes, aromas and textures commonly described by sensory experts and industry leaders, represents the first accurate, repeatable and statistically discriminatory sensory analysis method for coffee quality. This recently developed tool significantly advances the work of coffee scientists including molecular geneticists, breeders, and agronomists, who work to improve quality and taste for consumers and increase value for farmers and others who earn their living through coffee.