Campus welcomes coffee summit

By Tabitha Carranza

Coffee lovers are in for a treat this Thursday as the Huntley College of Agriculture hosts the inaugural California Coffee Summit.

The event is intended to spread knowledge about coffee production, handling and marketing as well as to start a discussion about creating a coffee industry for California and growing coffee on campus.

“Most people know very little about where their food comes from, including their daily cup or cups of coffee,” said Valerie Mellano, the plant science department chair.

“This meeting will help students understand the production of foods that they consume, the international implications of our food supply and the interesting and vibrant world of agriculture.”

Mellano believes that it is important for people learn where the food they eat comes from.

California leads the agriculture industry in the country.

The state provides more than fifty percent of all fruits and vegetables for the U.S., as well as other products shipped that are grown to sell internationally.

However, there are only a few coffee growers in California.

The summit is meant to bring in possible producers in order to grow the coffee industry in the southern region of the state.

Mellano states there are many people interested in becoming small-scale coffee producers, and the coffee summit is meant to discuss that possibility with them.

“We are hoping that this summit will encourage the students to think outside the box regarding agricultural production and products that can be grown and marketed here in southern California,” Mellano said.

There will be several speakers who will discuss their experiences in coffee production and marketing including California coffee pioneer Jay Ruskey and other industry leaders from Santa Barbara and San Diego counties.

Agricultural professionals from the University of California Cooperative Extension, University of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will also be in attendance.

Along with listening to the speakers, there will also be a coffee tasting and a field site visit to the research trial on different coffee varieties.

Two students, M.S. Student Chris Van Norden and undergraduate Keith Kittridge, are working on a field trial to help determine which varieties of coffee can tolerate heat, cold and other weather conditions found on campus.

“One thing we’re finding is that [the attendees] are from a diverse background,” said Craig Walters, Director of the AGRIscapes Center.

Some students are excited about the prospect of growing coffee on campus, especially if it means Cal Poly will profit financially from it.

“We could sell [coffee] to the community and earn profit from it,” said fourth year biochemistry student Natalie Cabrere.

Cabrere thinks it would be practically beneficial if the college also sells the product(s) it grows as it does with Innovation Brew Works, the on-campus brewery and cafe located in Innovation Village.

The Summit will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the AGRIscapes Visitors Center near the Cal Poly Pomona Farm Store, 4102 S. University Drive.

Irena Ilic visited a trial field near the university orchard to measure coffee plants

Courtesy of PolyCentric

Irena Ilic visited a trial field near the university orchard to measure coffee plants

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