SCAA Hires New Coffee Science Manager

It is our pleasure to introduce our new Coffee Science Manager, Emma Sage. With a Masters of Science in Botany from the University of Wyoming and a Bachelor of Arts in Ecology, Emma comes to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience in science and research. In this position, Emma will develop goals and strategies for conducting original research in coffee, conduct literature reviews and analysis of existing research on coffee related science, and represent SCAA at industry events and conventions in regards to science and standards, among other responsibilities. According to SCAA Deputy Executive Director, Tracy Ging, “This hire signifies a renewed commitment to developing standards, protocols, and practices that will support strategies to differentiate specialty coffee. With a combination of scientific and research experience plus practical knowledge, Emma will be responsible for driving this effort.”

In her own words, Emma declares herself a specialty coffee “groupie” and is “excited to finally participate in the community on a professional level.” In her academic life she studied biology, ecology, biochemistry, and botany, and, on many occasions, has mused over unanswered questions about coffee growing, processing, packaging, roasting, brewing, and everything in-between. “I think all SCAA members will benefit from incorporating basic scientific principles into their daily activities, and hope that my role at the SCAA will focus on improving the taste of the coffee we all enjoy each day. I am joining the SCAA hot off a job in the wine industry, where I have gathered lots of ideas to transfer to coffee. I plan to start simple, but go big! I am an energetic go-getter and hope many members will take advantage of my coffee science seminars and network of industry-led experiments.”

Q & A with Emma Sage

Q: Where did you come from/what is your background?
A: I have been studying botany, biology, plant physiology, and biochemistry since I was an undergraduate at Hampshire College. After that I worked for a time in a forestry lab. In graduate school at the University of Wyoming I studied how plant biochemistry is affected by different climate change factors. I also taught biology labs in graduate school and learned to appreciate sharing the joy of inquiry and experimentation in science! Recently I had a job working in a winery laboratory, which was a really cool place to learn about how science is used by a beverage industry to monitor and improve their product!

Q: How much do you know about coffee?
A: Although this is my first job in the coffee industry, coffee has been a major part of my life for years now. My husband has worked in the industry for a long time and now roasts coffee. He has also taught me tons about brewing coffee and espresso. I helped him train for two USBCs and I have developed a discerning coffee palate. I have been to a few SCAA events and have met many amazing people! I have often thought of the ways science could improve the industry and am so excited to be the one to spearhead the effort at the SCAA! I know a lot about the physical and biological sciences and can’t wait to sink my teeth into the realms of flavor chemistry, roasting physics, and coffee genetics, to name a few!

Q: What are some of your goals as the new SCAA Coffee Science Manager?
A: I have too many goals to count! This position represents an exciting commitment by the SCAA to incorporate science into their recommendations and standards. First, I want to assess the coffee science that has already has been established in the scientific community. From this, I want to create some SCAA publications and seminars so that we can all understand the science that can help make better coffee. At the same time, I want to identify gaps in the scientific literature that the SCAA and its members can contribute to. I want to work with the Barista and Roasters Guilds as well as other member-based groups to set up industry-led experiments that will answer some of our most pressing questions! I want to help the SCAA to get serious about leading the world in industry standards! If we utilize science and our passion for great coffee we will be on our way.

Please join us in welcoming Emma to the Team!