SCAA & SCAE Unification: Summit in Los Angeles

The members of the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) has recently voted in favour of a merger with the Specialty Coffee Association of America. The vote of the American members of the SCAA, is to take place soon. If this is in agreement then it opens up huge possibilities for the coffee community worldwide. Pooling efforts in research and education, as well as presenting a unified organisation to all the other countries of the world that both the SCAE and the SCAA have developed into in the past few years (particularly the Far East).

At the beginning of June the SCAE Education Committee were invited over to meet their counterparts in the U.S. The initial aim being to explore how close our two education programs are, make sure that all our standards are aligned, and to facilitate a clear understanding of how candidates can move between the two programs. This first step will be vital if the two organisations unify, and may pave the way for one completely unified program in the future.

I have a great deal of respect for the SCAA’s education program; it was probably one of my first experience of barista training some 15 or so years ago, taking classes at the SCAA San Fransisco conference. Back then the SCAA were streets ahead in their education program. The SCAE had next to nothing in comparison. But over the years a few fledgling barista exams finally led to the SCAE’s Coffee Diploma System.

The Coffee Diploma was really a landmark creation of the SCAE, expecting to issue 30,000 certificates worldwide this year. Spanning a broad range of coffee subjects (Green Coffee, Sensory Skills, Roasting, Barista and Brewing), over three levels (Foundation, Intermediate, and Professional), the program allows development throughout your coffee career. With information starting from the key basic skills needed to the most current science in each area.

The European “creator”, the people involved in drawing together the curriculum and exams in each subject area, all flew out to meet their U.S counterparts. It was an honour to be among such a group of knowledgable individuals with a selfless drive to progressing coffee education, both on the SCAE and SCAA side.

The good news is that the meeting was very constructive with broad agreements on all the subjects and standards and a real desire to take the best of both systems into the future. The next steps will have to wait for now though, until the SCAA vote comes back.


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