It’s the Fourth Annual Sensory Summit

Sensory Summit invites coffee professionals to upend preconceived notions and discover coffee through sensory exploration.


Photos courtesy of the Specialty Coffee Association

Every January, coffee professionals and sensory experts alike come together for Sensory Summit. The two-day workshop, hosted by the Roasters Guild, invites folks from across the globe to explore what it means to experience coffee through the senses.

Sensory Summit borrows from other fields to explore how we can taste coffee better.

The summit will be held January 24-26, 2019, at the Sensory Theater inside the Robert Mondavi Institute at the University of California—Davis. In the past, folks like Peet’s, La Marzocco, and Wilbur Curtis have donated to the school to help develop its Coffee Center. “The Coffee Center is poised to do for coffee what UC Davis did for wine and beer: to become the leading source of scientific expertise in the study of coffee,” shares Professor William Ristenpart, director of the UC Davis Coffee Center, on the school’s website.

Sensory Summit takes place at the Robert Mondavi Institute at UC Davis, one of the only schools in the country with a dedicated coffee research center.

Last year’s content focused on reimagining how the senses influence taste and experiences—folks from Breville explained how sounds and textures influence the experience of brewing coffee, while attendees tasted through the flavor wheel with Emma Sage of the Coffee Quality Institute and learned how harvest affects tea with a chemist from Tufts University.

From left to right: Emilio Lopez Diaz, Mary Tellie, Arkadius Michalczyk, and Isa Verschraegen learning about (and enjoying) beer as part of Sensory Summit.

This year’s lineup is just as impressive. Speakers include Hanna Neuschwander, director of communications for World Coffee Research, who will explore the concept of nature versus nurture in regards to coffee varieties; Barbara Lindblom, a winemaker and consultant, who will talk about the balance between art and science when it comes to blending wines; and Chahan Yeretzian, a professor of analytical chemistry, bioanalytical chemistry, and diagnostics at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, who will examine coffee freshness.

Tickets are still available for Sensory Summit—check out more speakers and lectures on their website, and if you’re attending, let us know and share your experiences!

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Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at