Plants for People: Beverage Crops



H.C. Bittenbender

Semesters taught:

Fall 2016, Spring 2017


To develop an understanding of the importance of the major beverage crops in the world economy, their cultural and social significance, history, production, processing, marketing and consumption.

Skills and knowledge to be acquired:

Recognize the major beverage crops as whole plant and part used to prepare beverages and how they taste. Know origin and production areas in today's world of important beverage crops. Know the basic sustainable production practices for important beverage crops. Understand the proper stage of maturity, harvesting and processing, and know how to prepare plant-based beverages. Know how to evaluate the organoleptic characteristics of these beverages.





Films and videos:


Course organization:


  • Class photo, Introduction
  • Temperate Fruit & vegetable discussion and tasting
  • Sustainable tropical fruit - discussion and tasting
  • Smoothies- theory & practice
  • 10-MIN. QUIZ Kava –history and origin
  • Kava –growing, processing, tasting
  • 10-min. QUIZ Cacao history, origin, production
  • Cacao processing, tasting
  • Chocolate making and tasting
  • 10-MIN. QUIZ Coffee - history and origin
  • Coffee - sustainable growing practices
  • Coffee - harvesting, processing, roasting and tasting
  • 10-MIN. QUIZ Tea history, processing, tasting
  • Herbal teas, sources and tasting
  • 10-MIN. QUIZ Fermented grains
  • Fermented fruit and distillation
  • Final exam

Detailed Schedule


Theme Activities Lectures
Intro Photo, student expectations, taste bitter, sweet, acid, salt


Temperate fruit and veg. Juices discussion/tasting Taste tomato, cranberry purchased juice
apple, 2 vars juiced, sweet and sparking cider, hard cider
Lect. on history, production  stats, and uses.  Various forms to taste
Tropical and subtropical juice discussion and tasting Taste orange juices, guava, pineapple Lect. on history, production stats, and uses. Fresh squeeze, frozen concentrate,  canned, chilled from conc.,  chilled not from conc.
Smoothie Taste two banana smoothie recipes Lect. on history, theory, and practice
Kava – history and origin QUIZ 1, Taste fresh kava – ‘Mahakea’ Lect. – history, physiology
Kava – growing, processing, tasting Taste dry kava – ‘Mahakea’ Lect. – sustainable production, processing, future
Cacao history and origin QUIZ 2, Taste Mayan drink, hot chocolate,
Break pod, start ferment
Lect. on history &  sustainable production of cacao
Cacao production and processing Roast and Taste generic cocoa nibs and milk vs dark chocolate Lect.- processing
Chocolate making, tasting Taste different origin chocolate, roast, grind taste cocoa mass of initial cacao Lect.- on chocolate making
Coffee - history and origin QUIZ 3,
Start wet and dry process
Taste final chocolate
Lect.- history, origin
Coffee - growing and processing Dry mill and Roast
Use press pot vs. drp, coffees
Lect.- sustainable growing practices
Coffee - roasting and tasting Taste processing
Taste roasting level
Lect.- harvesting, processing, roasting and tasting
Tea history and origin Quiz 4, Taste English, Chinese, Japanese style teas Lect.- history and production
Herbal teas Taste Herbals Lect. on  sustainable production and processing herbals
Fermented fruit juices QUIZ 5, Taste non-alcoholic red & white Lect. on sustainable grape production, wine making, distillation
Fermented grains and distillation Demo beer making  Taste 2 beers Lect. grain, sustainable hop growing
Final Exam    



Attendance 15%
Quizzes 50%
Final Exam 35%



Beverage tasting: every session

Office Hours: 2-3 pm M-TH, or by appointment