The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is a membership-based association built on foundations of openness, inclusivity, and the power of shared knowledge. From coffee farmers to baristas and roasters, memberships span the globe, encompassing every element of the coffee value chain. SCA acts as a unifying force within the specialty coffee industry and works to make coffee better by raising standards worldwide through a collaborative and progressive approach. Dedicated to building an industry that is fair, sustainable, and nurturing for all, SCA draws on years of insights and inspiration from the specialty coffee community.
There’s no limit to a life in coffee. With so many paths to personal and professional fulfillment in specialty coffee, the best route to a rewarding career can seem unclear. Hard work is necessary, passion is required, but knowledgeable guidance and industry-leading training is the leg-up necessary to shape the future. From green coffee assessment to barista training, roasting to the global coffee trade, the SCAA offers Pathways -- a schedule of courses in several comprehensive curricula that will prepare the industry’s next innovators and dreamers to usher in specialty coffee’s bright future.
With a clearly defined course of study in both broad and focused coursework, SCAA Pathways will prepare students for life outside of theory, applying their experience in the classroom back at their jobs. With newfound confidence, hard-earned knowledge, and the empowering support of a large professional network, Pathways graduates enjoy the benefits of programming that has been developed by the best minds in specialty coffee. From the foundations of coffee to developing industry leaders, the SCAA delivers real-world education that is committed to sharing great coffee with everyone.
Whether you’d like to pursue the Barista, Roaster, Coffee Taster, or Buyer Pathway, SCAA education begins with Foundations of Coffee — a course designed to provide students with a comprehensive overview that will set the stage for each respective Pathway. In each discipline, a schedule of online, classroom, and event workshop credits can be earned throughout the year. By following the specialized Pathway track and graduating with a certificate, students leave with a deepened skillset, new confidence, and a professional accomplishment recognized throughout the specialty coffee industry.
Laying the groundwork for a life in coffee, Foundations of Coffee serves as the introduction to all of the Pathways and builds a vocabulary, both spoken and sensed, that will serve each subsequent class in any chosen course of study. Lectures touching on varied subjects that impact coffee such as agronomy, earth sciences, economics, and sociology will bring to life the seed to cup journey as students explore the many steps along the global supply chain. Foundations of Coffee coursework will shift to a closer inspection of how the senses and chemistry collide, examining how coffees are evaluated through tasting exercises, cupping protocol, and a thorough introduction to flavor perception, as well as the theoretical and practical workings of brewing and extraction. By launching coffee careers with the right tools, Foundations of Coffee will prepare students for their chosen Pathway with a comprehensive overview in the macro and micro forces key to the craft and global industry.
With two levels of dynamic content the Barista Pathway presents a series of classes designed to accelerate a student’s professional trajectory with world-recognized instruction in espresso and espresso drink preparation, equipment operation and customer service. Upon completion, graduates have established a set of skills that are immediately relevant and ready to enhance the workforce in any coffee bar operation with a focus on high-level, high-quality execution to the standards and best practices of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
In a 2014 study of the industry, SCAA discovered that Barista Pathway graduates have the potential to earn $200k more over their career lifespan than uncertified baristas — but being a professional is more than a paycheck, it’s about what you bring to the job be it advanced skills or new insights into the craft of expertly preparing coffee.
Endorsed by the Barista Guild of America, the Barista Pathway is a powerful step forward as you pursue a meaningful career in specialty coffee.
Check our Course Calendar for upcoming Barista Pathways.
Invest in your roasting career with instruction from recognized experts and an education backed by decades of experience, scientific understanding, and thought leadership. The craft and the science of roasting are all laid out for students as they explore the nuances of machine operation, safety, maintenance, and the sensory applications required to carefully roast beautiful coffees.
Endorsed by the Roasters Guild, the Roaster Pathway presents a comprehensive education set in working roasteries and sensory labs. Learning from accomplished subject matter experts, students will develop their sensory skills, learning to evaluate roasted coffee for quality control and establish a mastery of the technical aspects required to safely and effectively manipulate roasting equipment. Practical aspects such as inventory control and production management help to round out a complete roasting curriculum.
Graduates will be well prepared to contribute in a wide range of roasting facilities, with a strong background in theory backed by hands-on roasting and evaluation experience.
With two levels available, the Roaster Pathway is available to coffee professionals looking to transition into or expand their understanding of the world of coffee roasting, and will build upon information and skills that demonstrate your competence as a professional specialty coffee roaster.
Check our Course Calendar for upcoming Roaster Pathways.
Coffee tasters contribute to an organization’s buying program, establish quality control protocols, and define and protect a coffee program — building its reputation and maintaining its integrity. The Coffee Taster Pathway is designed to develop both your palate and your coffee career, preparing you for work in evaluation and analysis with the confidence to participate in high-stakes decision making. Always in high demand, sensory experts are pushing the front lines of specialty coffee into new territory, borrowing from outside disciplines to incorporate innovative lab techniques and data tracking, while working to achieve new heights in quality.
Check our Course Calendar for upcoming Coffee Taster Pathways.
With a global trade network comprised of producers, importers, traders, and buyers, green coffee travels a long and winding road before it ever comes into contact with a roaster. How it gets there and who is involved sits at the core of the Coffee Buyer Pathway. For those looking to navigate the coffee supply chain, from negotiating contracts to maneuvering financial markets, understanding the intricacies and how to navigate the many channels will prove to be the best tool for success.
The Coffee Buyer Pathway takes students through a series of online courses built to aid in navigating the complexities of the supply chain. This Pathway presents a unique opportunity to learn from leading importers, growing both a career and a professional network as you embark on a life in coffee.
Check our Course Calendar for upcoming Coffee Buyer Pathways.