The coffee export industry is a $20 billion affair, with money primarily flowing from rich nations to poor, where the beans are typically picked by hand. The's industry complex web might mix arabica beans from Brazil with robusta beans from Vietnam, as it creates different brews and blends to stave off booms and busts. Such a massive industry will eventually attract serious research—not just into the economics and agriculture of creating the product, but the science and subtlties of its consumption, too.
To fill this niche, says Maanvi Singh for NPR's The Salt, the University of California, Davis, has launched a research center devoted to the study of coffee. It aims both to develop the science of brewing the perfect cup and to better understand what benefits there might be to our collective caffeine habit. The UC Davis Coffee Center says it's looking for industy partners on projects like these:
An analysis of the microbiota on coffee beans could lead to a new field of coffee terroir. A sensory perspective on coffee drinking would determine the optimal temperatures and conditions to ensure maximum flavor – at a personalized level. The natural fermentation of coffee berries could produce selective prebiotics that find their way to the consumer’s gut microbiota. And research could address the question: why is coffee consumption associated with protection from metabolic diseases?
While they're starting with courses and conferences, “[i]f all goes well, Davis might start offering a major in coffee science within the next few years," Singh says.
For the ultimate cool-kid college experience, maybe UC-Davis should consider a joint study-abroad program with England's Nottingham Trent University, where you can get a degree in Heavy Metal Music Performance--the perfect degree for those gunning for the part-time barista/budding rocker lifestyle.