The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, California puts on a regular Thursday night event called NightLife for 21+ year olds looking for some educational fun complete with libations, food, and music. Each night has its own theme with local researchers, scientists, or general professionals at tables to teach you about the scientific wonders surrounding the theme of the night. Themes can range from space to the human body to the weather. The first week of March 2016 brought one of our favorite morning caffeine fixes – coffee!
I drink more caffeine these days, but it’s still not a good idea for me to drink coffee so late. But with the likes of famous coffee roasters like Ritual, Intelligenstia, and Andytown Roasters providing fresh samples at my fingertips, how could I say no? Pour-over was the name of the game that night, but I also got to try WorkHorse Rye’s aromatic coffee bitters made from light roasted, direct-trade Four Barrel Coffee. Unfortunately, I missed out on the whiskey cocktail featuring these bitters, but it gives me ideas for the future.
At the different tables were also presenters who explained how roasting changes the composition of coffee, and how coffee beans grow in different climates. There was also a series of trivia questions about the effects of coffee. Did you know the benefit of having milk with your coffee is that coffee pulls calcium out of your bones, so the calcium in the milk helps add a little back in? Ritual also displayed an espresso machine with the outer shell removed and encased in plexiglass so we could see its inner workings.
When I had my fill of coffee, I wandered the Academy’s regular exhibits, including its indoor rainforest and aquariums. I then watched the Academy’s original planetarium show, Habitat Earth – a full dome film presentation showing the biological relationships within the planet’s different ecosystems from the ocean to the forest, and the human-built networks that intersect with them. It’s a visually immersive presentation that has you soaring through the air, diving into the ocean, and moving deep underground. So be careful if you’re prone to motion sickness! If not, then have a drink beforehand and enjoy the ride.
By the end of the night, I was thankful to be buzzed on enough caffeine to get me home. I can’t wait for the next food-themed NightLife, but until then, I’m inspired to use my pour over coffee cone more often and try new blends. Any suggestions?