Westlake News PEOPLE

Science Over Coffee: Pavlos Savvidis

Jocelyn Eikenburg
30, 2022

Email: zhangchi@westlake.edu.cn
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"Science Over Coffee" is a series where principal investigators at Westlake tell us about how coffee adds flavor to their scientific endeavors. Prof. Pavlos Savvidis, a physicist with Westlake's School of Science, shared with us how, in his lab, "everything starts from coffee". Here are some highlights from the conversation:

'Everything Starts From Coffee' in the Lab

"It's really a meeting point, actually. So in the morning, we normally arrive at a more or less similar time, and so it's really the first point of meeting -- coffee -- here. So everything starts from coffee, actually. This is where we generate the daily agenda, during the coffee drinking in the morning. So we really go through everything that has happened on the last day, and what's planned for the next day. It's not a short process, so the coffee drinking is actually continuous during the day. So it's not really a fast 'drink coffee and leave' [thing]. It really goes on for several hours for many of the people in the lab, so it's really a part of life.”

'A Whole Philosophy About Drinking Coffee' at Cambridge

"In the University of Cambridge there was a whole philosophy about drinking coffee, so there's actually a special room, which is very comfortable. It has sofas, it has several different coffee machines where people have different coffees. And it was really made for people to feel relaxed, like stopping the time and really getting together. You could meet new people during coffee and you don't have this pressure of work or of writing proposals and papers, and it's really an ideal time for open conversations and exploring different ideas. So I met some collaborators at the University of Cambridge over coffee, and the initial discussions led to some first experiments, which we then tested, and it really resulted in some beautiful work we published.”

Favorite Ways to Drink Coffee

"I prefer in the summertime a cold coffee with froth. It's called a freddo cappuccino -- it's a Greek invention. And in the wintertime I normally have cappuccino, and I actually ask for customized coffee here. So I ask for less milk, and a smaller cup. And also, when possible, ideally you want to drink coffee from a glass cup, because drinking coffee from a paper cup or a plastic cup really loses the deep sense of drinking coffee."

Making Espresso 'Reminiscent of an Experiment'

"So for espresso, for the coffee machine, you actually have to test the parameters. It's really like an experiment, where you test the pressure and the size of the grains, until you get the right result. And we very often have these discussions about how you make the best coffee. So actually, it's reminiscent of an experiment in the lab when you make coffee. So I love to learn."