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Returning guest and computational chemist known as Dr. Coffee, Christopher Hendon explores all that’s behind our morning cup, from differences in water for coffee and methods of brewing coffee.

Listeners will learn

  • How his efforts toward sustainability focus on brewing coffee with more flavor and less coffee waste,
  • What effect soft versus hard water will have on flavor highlights, and
  • How variables such as country of origin and brewing coffee methods make the final product even more complicated.

Christopher Hendon utilizes scientific inquiry and chemistry to assess coffee production. He’s an assistant professor of computational materials in chemistry at the University of Oregon and he’s made coffee his specialty.

Currently, he’s addressing sustainability and coffee in his research, noting that the largest waste in the U.S. is roast coffee that’s never used—rather, after it goes stale, we throw it away. A lot of energy has gone into producing and roasting each bean. Therefore, his goal is to explore how we can make each cup equally good but with less coffee in the first place to reduce the amount of coffee roasted. He then explains the transport chain of events and complications, such as water loss, and other issues to consider.

He also addresses what goes on in our kitchens from brewing coffee to choosing water for coffee. Listeners will hear an interesting lesson in water chemistry and how soft and hard water affect acidity. Because what each person wants from a cup tends to vary, there’s no hard rule for what to use, so he provides methods to test your own preferences at home. He also touches on how different countries and climates produce different flavors, how brew methods are categorized, and finally shares his favorite coffee and his own daily method. 

For more, see the curated coffee literature list he provides on his website and see the American Chemical Society’s coffee information.

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