SCA Coffee Skills Program

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) isa trade association built on foundation of openness, inclusivity, and the power of shared knowledge. SCA’s purpose is to faster global coffee communities to support activities to make coffee a more sustainable, equitable, and thriving activity for the whole value chain. From coffee farmers to barista and roasters, our membership spans the globe, encompassing every element of the coffee value chain. the SCA acts as a unifying force within the specialty coffee industry and works 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, the SCA draws on years of insights and inspiration from specialty coffee community.

The Coffee Skills Program (CSP)

The Coffee Skills Program consists of five full modules and one stand-alone, introductory course. The modules are Barista Skills, Brewing, Green Coffee, Roasting and Sensory Skills. Each module consists of three progressive courses titled Foundation, Intermediate and Professional. Learners choose which modules and courses are most appropriate for their educational needs.

Introduction To Coffee is a popular course that is authorised for delivery by every AST. In this course, learners are introduced to specialty coffee and the broad topics that could be explored through the other the modules. This is typically a 4-6 hour course and does not include a practical exam.

Foundation courses are typically equivalent to a one-day course. Intermediate courses are typically equivalent to a 2-3 day course. Professional courses are typically equivalent to 3-4 day courses. These courses can also be held over several meeting periods depending on the design of the AST’s lesson plan and agreement with learners.

SCA Coffee Diploma

The SCA Coffee Diploma is exclusive to the Coffee Skills Program and is awarded to those learners who have earned 100 or more points with CSP courses. Each of the CSP courses has a point value toward the SCA Coffee Diploma. The program is structured in a way that encourages learners to pursue a well-rounded coffee education on a variety of topics within the industry. Once a learner has achieved eligibility, they may apply for the SCA Coffee Skills Diploma in the Education menu at The application form can be found under Education at The points awarded at each level are listed below:

  • Introduction to Coffee : 10 points
  • Foundation course : 5 points
  • Intermediate course : 10 points
  • Professional course : 25 points

Introduction to Coffee

The Introduction to Coffee course is ideal for anyone who is new to specialty coffee. It charts coffee’s journey from its origins in Ethiopia to the major commodity that it is today. This course gives a general overview of the specialty coffee supply chain and explores topics such as history and cultivation, variables that affect coffee quality, basics of sensory analysis, fundamentals of roasting, factors of coffee freshness, and principles of brewing. In addition, learners will discuss the importance of water quality, cleanliness and maintenance. This interactive course also includes a cupping, an industry-specific process for evaluating coffee through a sensory experience. There is an online written exam administered upon the completion of the course

Barista Skills

Barista Skills teaches the essentials practical skills needed behind the espresso bar such as how to set your grinder, make espresso, foam and texture milk for cappuccinos, and create latte art as well as an exploration of health and safety issues, customer service protocols, and basic business practices.


The Brewing courses cover numerous brewing coffee methods as well as the brewing variables that affect quality. Hands on learning is emphasized with a focus on grind profiles, brewing methods, coffee strength measurements, and coffee extraction charting.

Green Coffee

Green coffee courses cover concepts and skills relevant to the evaluation, trade, and handling of green coffee. Content of these courses include applicable aspects of botany, coffee farming, processing, grading, storage, transport, markets, certifications, contracts, and more.


The Roasting modules teaches about the roasting process, including roast cycle, roast levels, identifying defects, the physical changes that beans undergo during the roasting process, as well as workspace management and lean production.

Sensory Skills

Sensory Skills courses cover concepts and skills relevant to the evaluation of coffee and related products. The content of these interactive courses includes sensory science, industry-specific protocols, common sensory attributes of coffee, physiological sensory training, implementation of sensory programs, consumer testing design, application in business, and more.


Lighthouse Coffee Roastery & Academy