Garrett Arnold is the newest addition to our team and this week's staff spotlight. We picked his brain to hear how he went from picky eater to food scientist, what made him fall in love with coffee, and why he goes hiking every weekend.
What did you study back in school?
I actually studied food science. It had always interested me, especially since I was such a picky eater growing up... chicken, pizza, ketchup sandwiches, and the occasional fruit [laughs]. When I was looking at majors, I saw food science and thought, "Whoa, that sounds really interesting." And it was. We learned about what's in food, the chemical makeup of food, how processing and packaging of food affect the flavor and texture, and finally the creative component: learning how to potentially create new food products. In order to do that, you have to know how different things react together, and how heat can affect certain compounds to develop flavors.
Okay, that really does sound interesting. What's the most fascinating thing you've learned?
The most fascinating thing I've learned about is coffee. I did a coffee study abroad program in Costa Rica where we visited different farms, processing plants, and roasteries. It was really interesting to get a glimpse into their daily operations and learn about the health benefits of coffee, as well as the chemical reactions that occur when you heat it. Yeah, I'm a food geek.
That seems like an awesome trip. So are you a big coffee drinker?
Yeah. And the funny thing is, I didn't even drink coffee before I went on that trip. But now I want to start my own roastery. There's not a single coffee shop in Kennesaw or Acworth where I'm from, and I'd love to open one right next to KSU. But it's an art as well as a science, so it'll definitely take some practice first.
Speaking of practice, what's one thing you'd like to improve at?
I'd love to start being more disciplined with my exercise. I'm just too sporadic with it. I've been in some of the healthiest shape of my life and then some of the most pathetic shape. Recently I've been trying to go hiking every weekend.
Hiking every weekend? You must really enjoy it then, I assume.
Yeah I love hiking. The best hikes are the unexpected ones. My girlfriend and I were hiking along the Appalachian Trail to the summit of Tray Mountain, where my friend had told us about a really cool campsite. But when we got there, it had been claimed. So we turned around, but on our way back we met an elderly couple that told us about a little trail to another campsite. We walked the trail, and it opened up into this really cool path through the rhododendron. They had told us there was no view, but I guess they didn’t realize the trail kept going, because just 100 yards farther it opened up to be the best view on the mountain.
That sounds awesome. What is it about hiking in particular that you enjoy?
Being outside, I feel one with the universe and nature. It brings me contentment by allowing me to clear my mind and realize what's important.