UC Davis Pre-College Program: Chemical Engineering with Coffee

Become a coffee expert in this Pre-College Program based on the “Design of Coffee,” voted UC Davis’ most popular elective course!

This hands-on program is intended to serve as an introduction to how chemical engineers approach and solve problems, as elucidated by the process of roasting and brewing coffee. The instructors will provide qualitative overviews of the basic principles of engineering analysis and design, and then guide you in corresponding laboratory experiments testing the effect of design choices on the sensory qualities of coffee.

Lab activities include:

  • Reverse engineer a drip coffee brewer
  • Develop process flow diagrams and mass balances for coffee
  • Test pH of coffee and analyze chemical reactions
  • Measure energy used to make coffee
  • Quantify mass transfer and flux during brewing
  • Examine pressure driven flow and the effect of filtration
  • Learn process design, scale-up and optimization

Students will learn how to clearly communicate and interpret technical data by completing lab reports after each lab session. Fundamental aspects of chemical engineering, including thermodynamics, heat and mass transfer, chemical kinetics, engineering design and optimization will be explored through hands-on experiments.

The program culminates in a design competition where students attempt to make the best-tasting coffee with the least amount of electrical energy – a classic and tasty engineering optimization problem! Students will record the competition design process and present their process flow diagram, mass balances, energy usage and sensory impressions in a creative video.

If you are interested in learning more about coffee or are contemplating a major in STEM, this course is for you.


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International Center

463 California Ave, Davis, CA, 95616

Enrollment Policies

A total of $100 is due in order to complete your online application.

Applications will be reviewed within 5 business days.

Once your application has been approved, you will receive an approval notification with a link which will allow you to enroll in your chosen program. An initial payment of $1500 will be required during enrollment to hold your place in the program.

Total Program costs:

Residential students: $ 6,445

Final payments are due by 5:00 pm (PST) May 1, 2024