Reece Guyon: Uncovering the mysteries in a cup of coffee

Originally posted on the UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship website.

Reece Guyon had grown, studied, worked and lived in England, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Germany before he entered UC Davis. He is majoring in chemical engineering and expects to receive his B.S. in June 2020.

Living in diverse cultures gave Guyon a unique set of skills and understanding that help him to adapt and integrate into many otherwise challenging situations and groups. He is an Eagle Scout and has served as student body president in his high school, and has achieved a brown belt in Shotokan karate.

At UC Davis, Guyon has worked in campus security and is an intern at the UC Davis Coffee Center, the first multidisciplinary university research center to address the challenges and needs of the coffee industry through a holistic approach to coffee science and education. He is a part of the Entrepreneur Quest: Undergraduate Internship Program (EQUIP) at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

Describe your project or venture.

I am a research intern in the Undergraduate Coffee Lab in the Department of Chemical Engineering, working for Dr. Ristenpart. The project consists of testing home coffee brewers to see if they meet the required specifications laid out by the Specialty Coffee Association for their Certified Home Brewer Program. I am also researching better ways to conduct these tests for efficiency and accuracy, as well as regularly roasting coffee for research projects that are ongoing throughout many departments across campus.

In addition, I am an intern at Cropster, focusing on a research project to develop new equipment to understand coffee roasting more and improve the consistency. 

What’s important about your field of study—and where do you hope to take it?

Coffee has played a vital role in some of the most impactful moments in history and continues to be the ingredient that powers some of the greatest minds and leaders across the world. Can you imagine how slow the world would be without it?

However, it is mysterious and fascinating as so little is known for certain. Only recently there has been a demand for specialty coffee, and thus the quality has risen dramatically. To make it more accessible and convenient, more research and discussion is needed, and that is where I would like to take this.

What are you most passionate about?

Chemical engineering has shown me how connected different areas of science and math are, which helps explain the world around us. This has fueled my passion to understand and learn more about the science of coffee and all the complex transformations it makes, from a red cherry to a brown roasted bean.

What was the most important thing you learned during EQUIP?

To bring an idealog book everywhere I go, whether that be on a road trip or just to class so that I don’t miss any opportunities. Ideas come and go like waves crashing on the beach; some don’t matter, others have the potential to change the world. One of the guest speakers at EQUIP taught me that you do not want to leave it up to chance that you’ll remember that idea in the next five minutes. 

uc davis coffee center chemical engineering undergraduate reserach
Reece Guyon recently presented his research at the Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston. "There are so many different processes, tools and people to make a cup of coffee that there's something for everyone to drink and be a part of." Photo: Jordan Sanchez/Specialty Coffee Association.
What is the most unexpected advice you received during the program?

That you don’t have to come up with some radical idea to make a business that’ll disrupt a whole industry. Simply combining two fields that have not been combined before can result in a huge business and change the world for the better. 

What is the most important thing you discovered in EQUIP?

Discovering my top strengths was by far the most important activity, as it showed me exactly what type of life I should aim for to maximize my strengths and be successful. For example, my top strength is learning. This is something I could not have pinpointed before undertaking the program. I just thought I liked new things and got bored quickly, but instead it was that I got bored when I stopped learning. I realized that I should look for jobs that have a learning curve that won’t plateau, or that I should start a business to keep me learning about all the various roles required in a business.

How will your experiences help you to change the world?

I hope to be a leader in a dynamic, progressive company. EQUIP has given me the confidence to take those first steps in initiating a business or managing a group or department. The speakers in the program talked and demonstrated how we can change the world with time and effort, regardless of the challenges that need to be overcome. 

How will your experiences as an EQUIP Scholar shape your professional future?

Through EQUIP I have met a strong network of professionals that will certainly enhance my abilities when I need to reach out for assistance in solving a problem or developing a strong team. I also feel a great deal more confident in taking those first steps in starting a business, and the people in the program would be some of the first I would consider asking to join me.

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