Profile: The Specialty Coffee Scientist

By Emma Bladyka, Coffee Science Manager, SCAA

Coffee scientists all over the globe are examining important issues in coffee. There are research groups investigating everything from volatile aroma components, pest and disease biology and resistance, environment and agricultural impacts, flavor formation and precursors, health impacts, environmental influence, processing technology and practices improvement, microorganism biology, taste physiology and psychology, genetics and plant breeding, roasting kinetics, and much more. However, the industry frequently falls behind the crop-agriculture curve, and does not yet have many of the fundamental scientific answers necessary to sustain quality coffee production. Not only is this likely due to the fact that research in coffee producing regions of the world is often underfunded, but also because much of research has been conducted on ‘coffee’ rather than focusing on specialty coffee and the questions most relevant to our industry. The good and bad news seems to be that there are many opportunities in specialty coffee research. The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is committed to engaging with the scientific community in order to bridge the gap between science and industry. Part of this commitment is to create relationships with scientists who devote their talents to studying specialty coffee. Dr. Flavio M. Borém generously received the SCAA Science Origin Trip to Brazil last October on the campus of the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA).  He met us with a smile, graciously devoting his day to us, introducing us to his colleagues, and answering all the questions we could throw his way. He allowed us to participate in a mind-expanding cupping from an experiment he and collaborators are exploring regarding the environmental impacts on coffee quality. What was immediately clear about Dr. Borém was his keen perception of specialty coffee and genuine desire to engage with the industry. Since then, we have further grown to know Dr. Borém as an inquisitive and perceptive scientist, with a paramount reputation and broad expertise in coffee. He frequently travels internationally to give talks on his research and educate interested markets about the science behind specialty coffee. He has committed himself to working with industry and spreading his knowledge around the world.

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