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Changes Abound at the 27th Biennial ASIC Conference

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has partnered with the Association for Science and Information on Coffee (ASIC) to host the 27th biennial ASIC conference in Portland, Oregon. The 2018 conference, which begins 16 September and runs through 20 September at the Oregon Convention Center, offers multiple changes to the format, including the new Industry Day.

The ASIC conference is the premier symposium on coffee science in the world. Participants include hundreds of researchers, members of industry, students, and academics from more than 40 countries, all focused on cutting-edge information and advanced coffee science. Topics include chemistry, agronomy and pest management, genomics, sustainability, physiology, health, and sensory science. “ASIC represents a gathering of scientists who were all studying coffee and came together to share what they were working on with each other,” says Peter Giuliano, chief research officer of the SCA, which organized this year’s ASIC conference. “ASIC began in 1966. Ernesto Illy was the first president, and in many ways, he was the center of activity of this organization.”

ASIC started to hold conferences every two years. Giuliano notes that they were all in Europe because it was the nucleus of coffee science, but in the 1970s the conferences launched in origin countries. “Now, ASIC will partner with an association in the host country to organize the biennial conference,” he says, adding that although the conferences have shifted to being held in origin countries, ASIC wanted to bring one back to a consumer country. The last time the conference was held in the United States was in 1991 in San Francisco, California.

ASIC Industry Day, which takes place 19 September, is designed to foster collaboration between coffee scientists and coffee professionals. There will be a full day of talks, panel discussions, and Q&As on four subject areas: Coffee & Health, Genetics & Breeding, Sustainability & Economics, and Quality.

“Science is a powerful tool and within the coffee industry there is a tremendous and growing interest in coffee science, but scientific conferences can be overwhelming and confusing — even to scientists in different fields (genealogists, agronomists, physicists, chemists),” says Giuliano. “We started to use metaphor of ‘bridge’ for industry day. Everyone in coffee industry wants to know more about where coffee science is, and scientists need to be able to engage more with coffee community.” Thus, Industry Day was born.

ASIC and the SCA invited 20 scientists to give talks on industry day but for a lay audience. The audience will be filled with people from scientific industry and coffee industry. “The idea is to build a bridge between communities,” Giuliano explains.

The schedule for ASIC INDUSTRY DAY is as follows:

7:30am — Coffee Service & Continental Breakfast
Exhibits & Poster Sessions Open
8:15am — Opening Remarks: Science & Coffee
10:35am — Coffee Break
11:05am — Genetics & Breeding
12:00pm — Lunch
1:30pm — Sustainability & Economics
2:50pm — Coffee Break
3:20pm — The Science of Quality
6:30pm — Portland Spirit Dinner Cruise
9:30pm — Return to Oregon Convention Center

Registration for Industry Day is available at USD $375 and includes lunch and a dinner cruise.

Aside from the new Industry Day, this year’s ASIC Conference has additional changes. For example, it is shorter than previous ones, which ran seven days. The 2018 conference opens on Sunday, 16 September with a Welcome Reception, and Wednesday, 19 September is set aside for Industry Day. “On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, there will be ASIC-approved abstracts that will last 15 minutes each, the same as previous conferences,” says Heather Ward, senior manager, content strategy at the SCA. “Almost every category will have a keynote in each subject area.”

In terms of the core ASIC Conference, there are eight subject areas: Plant Science; Roasted Coffee Technology & Processing; Biochemistry & Biotechnology of Green Coffee; Sustainability, Climate Change & Labels; Consumption & Health; Plant Pathology & Protection; Coffee Chemistry & Sensory Sciences and Farm Management.

Another change to this year’s ASIC Conference is the absence of the book of abstracts. “There will not be a printed book, but abstracts will be available online,” assures Giuliano.

The official conference ends 20 September, but for those interested, there are tours of Portland coffeehouses or Oregon wineries scheduled for 21 September.

For more information and to register, visit: www.asicportland.org.

Vanessa L Facenda

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