This is interesting, and potentially good news for the long term development & growing sustainability of the specialty coffee industry: UC Davis has added a Coffee Center to its Food & Health Institute and will host a conference, and eventually a major in Coffee Science.

The March 11 conference will cover topics such as the genetics of coffee, sustainability in coffee growing and the sensory perception of coffee drinkers.

Coffee production and consumption have been growing in recent years, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts global production will reach 150.5 million bags this year. The International Coffee Association reports coffee is the most widely traded tropical agricultural commodity and the largest food import in the United States.

One of the center’s first steps will be to build and operate a greenhouse to grow coffee plants for research, German said. Researchers expect to focus on sustainability in every step along the coffee production chain, from land use to waste concerns.

“What we’re looking to do is start a relationship with coffee and move knowledge of all aspects of coffee forward,” German said. “That knowledge will be driven by scientists and industry.”

An interview at KPCC has a few interesting nuggets, take a listen here. If you’re a coffee geek with a science bent, you may be interested in reading more about the program at UC Davis.