Introducing Specialty Coffee

In a new effort to document and record the many learning objectives and skills required to complete your SCA Training Certifications - we will post a series of audio and video recordings with documentation to guide you in your path to becoming an SCA Master.

Click Image to Advance > > >

Audio Notes


  • Difference between freshly brewed coffee and instant coffee

  • Recognize specialty coffee from instant coffee in a cupping

  • Specialty coffee is distinct from commercial grade and defect coffees

  • There are different quality standards in flavor.

  • Identify key aspects of specialty coffee

  • State the different variables that may affect quality

Basic difference between taste and flavor

  • Difference between tastes derived from the tongue and how the addition of aroma allows us to define flavor

  • Recognize the five basic tastes our tongue can identify

  • Coffee’s historical development as a drink:

  • Arabica’s origins in Ethiopia, its spread through the Arabic world and into Europe

  • Historical development of coffee drinking in your country

  • Who are the largest consumers of coffee in the world

  • Describe the origins and spread of coffee as a drink to the present day

  • Identify the largest consuming country(ies) of coffee

The historical development of coffee cultivation

  • Knowledge of Arabicas discovery in Ethiopia, and Robustas discovery in the Congo

  • Basic knowledge of the first attempts at cultivation of coffee in other countries

  • Knowledge of the movement of coffee to Bourbon (Reunion) by the French in 1715, giving rise to one of our main Arabica varietals

  • Knowledge of the overall size of the coffee industry and the largest producing countries

  • Describe the origins and spread of coffee cultivation to the present day

  • Identify the largest coffee producing countries


  • Coffee is derived from the fruit of a tree

  • Identification of the coffee tree and its fruit. Structure of the cherry and that two beans normally exist within (or just one peaberry)


  • Identify basic structure of the coffee cherry

  • State the correct name of a single bean within the cherry

  • Identify Arabica from Robusta in a cupping or as a brewed coffee

  • Describe the relative acidity and body typically derived from Arabica and Robusta are the

  • Coffee has a number of species, with Arabica and Canephora (Robusta) being the main ones grown

  • Arabica and Robusta are most common species of coffee but they are not the only coffee species

  • Key differences between these two main species: visually, growing conditions, caffeine levels

  • Differences in main flavors derived from these key species

Geographical areas involved in growing coffee

  • Equatorial areas that coffee grown, including the main continental areas of Central and South America, Africa and Indonesia

  • Geographic position may influence coffee flavor

  • Soil conditions, altitude, climate etc. affect the flavor derived from the coffee

  • State the main areas in which coffee is grown

  • State the influence geographical position may have on coffee flavor

Main processing methods of coffee:

  • wet processed/washed coffee and dry process/natural coffee

  • The flavors derived from the different processing methods

  • The steps coffee goes through to get from the farm to the roaster

  • Describe the main methods of processing coffee

  • Identify the flavor profile of each processing method

  • State the key stages coffee goes through to get from the farm to the roaster

Steps in the roasting process

  • Recognize a traditional roaster and the equipment used

  • Identify key stages in the ROASTING

  • Basic steps in the roasting process and the changes the beans undergo

  • Identify how flavors change

  • How acidity diminishes as during the roasting process sweetness and bitterness increase throughout the roasting process


  • Identify the factors that affect freshness and have an impact on coffee quality


  • Importance that freshness has in relation to quality coffee flavor

  • Coffee oxidizes in the presence of air, diminishing coffee quality

  • How quality packaging minimizes oxidization

  • Moisture and excess of temperature can be detrimental to coffee quality

  • Coffee should be used within the day when beans are placed in the hopper and used immediately when ground, in order to optimize flavor

Range of different equipment

  • Recognize at least five different and methods available to brew

The basic principles of brewing coffee

  • When brewing we are extracting/ dissolving elements out of the ground coffee. That only a certain percentage of the bean is dissolvable into the final cup and that some dissolvable flavors are desirable and others are undesirable.

  • Identify the standard coffee to water ratio for filter coffee

  • Identify the standard quantity of coffee used to brew an espresso

  • State the impact of under extraction and over extraction

  • State the optimum amount of extraction from coffee beans

  • Identify optimum water temperature for coffee extraction

  • Difference between terms Under and Over Extraction, and why 18- 22% extraction may be considered desirable.

  • How grind size will affect the extraction

  • Quantity of coffee advised for different brewing methods: 50-60g for Gold Cup Standard filter coffee; 14g commonly used for a double espresso in Italy but higher doses used in some cultures

  • Time is important to what is extracted e.g. why 20- 30 seconds is commonly used for an espresso

  • Water temperature is important to extraction and most brewing methods use water temperatures around 92-96c

  • Water quality is important to the flavor of the drink and that filters may be required to control this and protect machines from scale


  • Common drinks produced with coffee

  • Recognize common coffee drinks such as espresso, cappuccino, latte, americano, filter/brewed coffee, and describe their content