Vanderbilt News


In case you didn’t see the Hustler’s article covering the ICS, check it out here!



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Third Wave Coffee

If you don’t understand what Third Wave Coffee is, don’t worry! You aren’t alone.

Third Wave Coffee is the most recent movement wherein coffee has been turned into a highly specialized beverage. Instead of a plain cup of coffee to wake you up in the morning, Third Wave Coffee is much more of an art, focused on careful coffee preparation, high grade beans, detailed attention to sourcing, and an almost-scientific deliverance in drink presentation.

However, as many well know, coffee didn’t start in the Third Wave. The First and Second Wave Movements also deserve attention.

First Wave Coffee refers to the first initial push to increase coffee consumption back in the 1800s. Folders and Maxwell House are great examples of this kind of coffee, coffee that has a focus on mass distribution and sales.

Second Wave Coffee refers to an increased specialization in the coffee shop experience and coffee beverage variety. Grown out of frustration for low-quality coffee, consumers began to value specialty expresso drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos, and the like. Peet’s and Starbucks are good representations of Second Wave Coffee and the Second Wave Coffee Experience.

All that is to say, the concepts aren’t too difficult to grasp. In connecting with one of our earlier posts, Third Wave Coffee and specialty roasting really relate to our discussion on the Coffee Color Wheel. Go back and check it out if you haven’t had the chance!


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Coffee on the Move: Tourism & Coffee

While flying through the holiday season, there’s an niche part of coffee culture that we wanted to explore: coffee in tourism. Whether traveling to mountain destinations, beaches, or elsewhere, coffee doesn’t disappear when you travel.

So, to get a glimpse of what the coffee industry might look like in a tourist town,  we sat down with Darina Brown, co-owner and manager of Burg Coffees in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

In the heart of a tourist destination, Burg Coffees sees a huge turnover of new customers on a daily basis. With such high turnover, you might think Darina and her staff never see the same faces; however, the energetic manager explained that this is not the case. Despite having a tourist culture, Gatlinburg is still its own town, meaning Burg Coffees has its fare share of regulars. So though Burg is located amidst other tourist attractions, Darina offers special discounts that keep locals coming in the door, especially during slow seasons.

But, even with a local following, Burg is still vastly dependent on tourism  for its revenues and must cater to relevant consumer coffee preferences. To stay in touch with these preferences, Darina explained that the bulk of her products are expresso based. Customers primarily ask for specialty drinks, mochas, and frappes, meaning she uses expresso shots in the majority of the drinks she serves.

Though customers are the focus, we were still curious about the coffee itself, so we asked about production and roasting. Burg Coffee’s arabica beans aren’t roasted in Gatlinburg but in Maryville, just a little Northwest of Gatlinburg. Darina explained that the shop is so busy that outsourcing the roasting process makes her operation run more smoothly, so she can put her time and effort in serving the massive numbers that pass through her store.

Still, owning a coffee shop in a competitive setting can’t stand only on the merit of the coffee quality; Burg’s success is also based off of appearances. Darina was quick to point out that since her shop is nestled between several others, she uses additional tips and tricks to draw customers into the store to drink her coffee products. Instead of a plain storefront, Burg is adorned with twinkling lights, decorative window print, and a board featuring seasonal drinks, all to attract visitors and boost sales.

As a final note in our discussions with Darina, we were most curious about how a small business owner can maintain such a fast paced business operations. Darina’s response to this inquiry? She just drinks more coffee! When the day is hectic and she needs to keep up, Darina whips up a frappe with 6 shots of expresso and keeps on moving.

In total, what are some of the main takeaways we found when talking to Darina? Depending on location, coffee in tourist locations can be based more on appearance than the origins of the coffee itself. Travelers seem to reach for warm mochas, specialty frappes, or otherwise novel drinks to complement their experiences. However, this doesn’t compromise the quality of the coffee as was demonstrated by Darina and her staff, and she has shown that great coffee can be found during your travels if you take the time to look.


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Breaking Down the Coffee Color Wheel

Scroll down, and you’ll get a glimpse of what is known in the coffee world as the “Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel.”  Produced and updated by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, this visually appealing chart describes and categorizes a vast, complex array of coffee taste notes.

Created in 1995, this chart is the product of collaboration among scientists, researchers, coffee experts, consumers, roasters, and other industry specialists. Though the wheel is primarily used for specialty coffee purposes, any coffee lover can make sense of it and apply its descriptors to a good cup of coffee.

To use the wheel, start in the center and work outwards. Also, keep in mind that the flavor wheel can encompass both flavors and aromas. Still a little confused? Check out the Lexicon that accompanies the wheel in order to ground your understanding:​

When looking at the wheel, you can see a vast array of taste notes: cherry, coconut, brown spice, molasses, fresh, rubber –the possibilities are extensive. Why do all of these flavors matter?

With so many flavor options at our fingertips, coffee specialists are starting to see pairings of particular types of coffee with certain types of food –similar to the way in which one might pair food with certain types of wine. So, these flavors can help cater to very nuanced drink and food experiences.

Not ready to identify specific flavors? In the meantime, go drink a simple cup of coffee! Look at the Flavor Wheel and see if you can put it to good use, starting in the middle and doing your best to work outwards. If you’re having trouble, look at the Sensory Lexicon or go chat with a barista near you–


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Biology and the Bean

Welcome to Week 2 of the Fall Spotlight Series! Read more for a look at some of the biomedical research surrounding coffee consumption.

When it comes to the effects of coffee consumption on the body, researchers often come up with a wide spectrum of results. Some have argued that coffee produces many negative side-effects, while others have shown that coffee has a multitude of benefits.

Check out the following links from Medical News Today:

The article makes several claims:

1. Coffee may reduce diabetes

2. Increased coffee consumption may reduce chances of Parkinson’s

3. Coffee considerably lowers risk of liver cancer

4. Coffee may reduce chances of liver disease

5. Certain amounts of coffee may improve heart health

You probably noticed “may” and “might” in the phrases above, and those are intentionally placed. Most studies regarding coffee find correlations in coffee consumption and biomedical effects, but few can make causal claims.

But, most researchers agree that moderate amounts off coffee have benefits, while effects from extreme amounts of the substance have been harder categorize.

In a caffeine summary from the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee, researchers support the claim that most individuals can have up to 5 cups a day and still enjoy benefits such as “alertness, well-being and both intellectual and physical endurance performance” (ISIC, 2016).

So, perhaps coffee can be consumed in larger amounts than a modest one or two cups.

Read more about the latest research regarding coffee’s influence on hydration, bone health, and additional guidelines for coffee intake here:

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Kicking Off With Coffee: Fall Spotlight Series

Welcome to the ICS Fall Coffee Spotlight Series! As many know, coffee is unique little bean, and its existence has raised a plethora of questions for those who produce it, trade it, and consume it. Thus, for the past few weeks, the … Continue reading

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