January 22, 2019 5:16 pm
Updated: January 22, 2019 5:17 pm

Super Awesome Science Show Recap: Coffee beans and genes

We take a look at how our own genetics can alter the way we taste coffee and how it affects our health.

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Coffee is one of the world’s most beloved beverages. Long before it was made popular by the television show Friends, it stood as the drink that brought people together. Ironically, it’s also one of the most hotly debated subjects when it comes to health and taste. On this week’s episode of The Super Awesome Science Show, we examine one of the reasons behind this lack of consensus: Genetics.

We first look at how our own genetics can alter the way we taste coffee and how it affects our health. We talk with Dr. Marilyn Cornelis at Northwestern University who has been looking at how small changes in our genetic code, known as polymorphisms, can change how we interpret and react to the chemicals in coffee.

READ MORE: Addicted to coffee? Your DNA may be to blame, study suggests

We then explore how genetics give different coffees from around their world their unique taste. But we’re not looking at the coffee’s DNA. Instead, we look at yeast. Although you may not know it, coffee beans are fermented before they hit store and coffee shop shelves. We talk with Dr. Aimee Dudley of the Pacific Northwest Research Institute about those microbes and how their diversity helps to give your favourite style of java that taste you love.

READ MORE: Caffeine withdrawal: What happens when you don’t get your coffee fix

In our SASS Class, we learn about a threat to our coffee supply. It’s called coffee rust fungus and it can decimate coffee plants and put your morning cup of joe at risk. We speak with Dr. John Vandermeer from the University of Michigan who has been studying how this fungus wreaks havoc and how genetics may help to keep those crops safe.

If you enjoy The Super Awesome Science Show, please take a minute to rate it on Apple Podcasts and be sure to tell a friend about the show. Thanks to you, we’ve been nominated for a Canadian Podcast Award as Outstanding Science and Medicine Series. Let’s keep the awesome momentum going together!

Twitter: @JATetro
Email: thegermguy@gmail.com

Guests:
Dr. Marilyn Cornelis
Northwestern University
https://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/faculty-profiles/az/profile.html?xid=31723
Twitter: @marlilyncornelis

Dr. Aimee Dudley
Pacific Northwest Research Institute
https://www.pnri.org/research-programs/dudley-lab/

Dr. John Vandermeer
University of Michigan
https://lsa.umich.edu/eeb/people/faculty/jvander.html

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