What's So Special About the Specialty Coffee Association?

Some of you may be familiar with SCA, Specialty Coffee Association, but are you aware of the influence this organization has on your coffee choices? The SCA is a tremendous resource for coffee professionals to stay up-to-date on the most current research, trends, and events. But there's nothing saying that coffee enthusiasts should have to remain in the dark. Grab your best mug of your favorite brew and let's explore this coffee industry giant a little.

Person Brewing Coffee by Rene Porter, Sourced from Unsplash.com

First, a smidge of history: According to their website, the SCA, Specialty Coffee Association, was established in January of 2017. This was a combination of Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) to form a unified SCA. The SCAA some of you may be familiar with began in "...1982 by a small group of coffee professionals seeking a common forum to discuss issues and set quality standards for the specialty coffee trade." The SCAE started a little later in 1998. But by 2012, both organizations began to seriously entertain the notion of unification, and in 2017, it became official.

With the history and acronym confusion out of the way, let's dive a little into what the SCA is really all about.

"The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is a nonprofit, membership-based association built on foundations of openness, inclusivity, and the power of shared knowledge. From coffee farmers to baristas and roasters, our membership spans 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 are a myriad of resources the SCA provides to the public (some are FREE to download) to discover about coffee standards, consumer research, and sustainability reports. Click here for the list of reports.
  • If you're more of a hands-on kind of person, and you'd like to take some classes, SCA offers educational opportunities as well. Anyone can sign up to become a "Learner" without signing up for a membership. You can explore their Coffee Skills Program and follow through each level from Foundation to Intermediate to Professional. Click here for more information on this program.
  • If you want to really reap the benefits of membership, check out SCA Guilds here.
  • If you are a member, you can also register to attend any number of guild summits, symposiums, and the annual Specialty Coffee Expo, this year in Portland, Oregon. Coffee industry movers and shakers from all over the world participate in these events, so it's a coffee nerd's dream. For a list of the 2020 events schedule, click here.

Clearly, the SCA is an incredibly influential aspect of the coffee industry. But, in keeping with one of their core values of inclusion, there is plenty of valuable information available for public consumption. If you do manage to get to any of these events, please send us a picture and a sentence or two about your time there and what you learned! We'd love to hear about your adventures!