Coffee English

Advice for the Barista

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.

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Audio Notes


  • The differences between Arabica and Robusta, including growing conditions, caffeine levels, pest & disease resistance, flavor and visual differences.

  • Recognize key differences between Arabica & Robusta

The importance of coffee freshness, including:

  • The use of a sealed bag, ideally within one month after roasting and within a maximum of three months;

  • Grinding coffee fresh (to order) within 3 minutes of preparing;

  • Identifies and describes the importance of using fresh coffee beans and how to keep them fresh

  • Avoiding the storage of beans in the hopper overnight or when not in use;

  • Keeping lids on the bean hopper and doser chamber;

  • Storing beans away from air, moisture, light and heat;

  • Maintaining a stable temperature


  • Maintains a hygienic and organized work space which minimizes waste

  • Demonstrates the appropriate position for commonly used tools, eg tamp, pitchers/jugs, cloths etc.


  • The importance of keeping the work space clean, tidy and organized at all times

  • The correct terminology to Identify correctly all key identify parts of grinder (hopper, espresso machine and adjustment collar, dosing grinder component parts chamber, fork, on/off switch) and espresso machine including switches (steam wand & tip, portafilter handle, grouphead, dispersion screen & gasket, drip tray, gauges, hot water spout, on/off switch, continuous/AV buttons)

  • The acceptable range (per definition) of coffee used in espresso, and how distribution of coffee grounds affects extraction.

  • The impact of tamping on distribution, and extraction flow

  • Describes and demonstrates the basics of dosing, distribution and tamping and their impact on extraction

  • The correct dosing action to achieve correct input with minimal waste

  • Demonstrates good dosing and distribution technique to keep dose consistent from one espresso to the next and to minimize channeling

  • Calibration of a grinder. The grinder should be calibrated to produce an espresso that falls within SCA standards. The grinder should be purged between adjustments

  • Demonstrates grind calibration, using a grinder with a dosing chamber OR an 'on-demand' grinder

  • Identification of the impact of grind size on the final shot

  • Describes how the grind affects shot times Identifies when a grind is incorrect and corrects it to produce an espresso in 20-30 seconds.

  • The correct use of a tamper to produce a flat and even surface on the tamped cake and to reduce repetitive strain injuries

  • Demonstrates a good tamping technique using a hand tamper


Espresso is a method of preparation that takes finely ground coffee, compacts it into a portafilter and forces hot water through it under pressure to make a concentrated coffee beverage

  • Sensory attributes are used to describe coffee

  • There may be regional variations to espresso and cappuccino parameters used in the SCA exams:

  • Dose: within 7g – 10g (14g – 20g double shot)

  • Brew ratio: 1 / 1.5 – 1 / 2.5 Shot time: 20 – 30 seconds

  • Recognizes the key defining parameters of an espresso used within SCA examinations

  • Tastes and describes attributes, such as aroma, body and flavor, of an espresso Chooses appropriate terms to describe flavor from the SCA Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel

  • Demonstrates awareness of regional variations in parameters

  • There are five interdependent elements to brewing espresso: The bean / The barista / The machine / The grinder / The water

  • Lists the five inter-dependent elements to brewing espresso

Preparation of the espresso machine requires:

  • Prepares the machine for use correctly and with appropriate equipment

  • Having separate cloths for steam wand, counter and portafilter

  • Checking that boiler pressure is up to 1 bar before use;

  • Warming (seasoning) group handles by pulling a minimum of 1 shot per group before dialing-in;

  • Stacking cups on cup warmer and saucers and spoons etc. next to the espresso machine

Preparation of espresso involves the following steps:

  1. Remove portafilter from grouphead and flush group

  2. Wipe basket clean and dry

  3. Dose and distribute desired grams of coffee

  4. Tamp consistently, level & ergonomically

  5. Clean loose grounds from portafilter surfaces

  6. Insert portafilter into the grouphead and start the pump immediately, as one continuous motion

  7. Observe the flow and stop pump appropriately

  8. Serve or use to make espresso-based drink

  9. Remove portafilter and knockout spent grounds

  10. Wipe basket clean and flush group (rinse optional)

  11. Return portafilter to grouphead to keep preheated

Demonstrates the correct steps for preparing espresso according to SCA standards

  • Understanding of basic sensory qualities of

  • Under-extracted espresso (thin body, unbalanced flavor with high acidity, poor crema),

  • Over-extracted espresso (unbalanced flavor with high bitterness, poor crema)

  • An acceptable espresso (good body round and smooth, well balanced flavor (acidity, sweetness, bitterness), good visual crema which covers whole espresso (in line with coffee used)

  • Recognizes by sight and tastes the differences between under-extraction, over-extraction and acceptable extraction


  • The importance of using fresh milk in maintaining foam standards:

  • Expired milk is unfit for consumption and should be discarded

  • The time milk is left out of the refrigerator should be minimized

  • Stock should be rotated (first in first out)

  • Pitchers/milk jugs should be emptied and cleaned before use

  • Pitchers/milk jugs should not be prefilled

  • Milk should not be re-steamed

  • Describes the measures required to maintain freshness of milk

  • Milk should be produced with consistently dense texture, with no visible bubbles and a shiny surface. (See SCA Foam Quality Guide).

  • Demonstrates the appropriate techniques required to produce correct milk texture (micro- foam).

  • There is a desirable range of milk temperature: 55c-65c (131- 149F) (Maximum temperature 70c/158F, Minimum of 50c/122F).

  • Demonstrates the appropriate techniques for producing the correct milk temperature

  • All temperatures are measured in the cup, not the pitcher/jug

The correct steps in foaming milk are:

  • Empty and clean pitcher before use

  • Purge steam wand before foaming

  • Wipe steam wand immediately after use

  • Purge steam wand after wiping

  • Minimize milk waste

  • Demonstrates hygienic and efficient steps when foaming milk

  • Drinks should be prepared to the required composition and visual requirements

  • Performs the techniques required to produce a cappuccino and caffe latte


  • An espresso should be served to the specified size, taste and visual parameters (as per SCA exam requirements)

  • Demonstrates good techniques for preparing and serving an espresso

  • A cappuccino should be served to the specified size, taste and visual parameters (as per SCA exam requirements)

  • Demonstrates good techniques for preparing and serving a cappuccino


  • Risks related to safety and hygiene should be minimized and in accordance with local laws.

  • Demonstrates basic understanding of the local laws that apply to safety and hygiene when using espresso equipment and cleaning chemicals

The use of safe and hygienic work practices including:

  • Washing hands before preparing espresso and after eating, drinking, smoking etc

  • Keeping body and clothing (including apron) clean and hygienic

  • Using and cleaning machines safely – according to manufacturer's instructions and local laws

  • Using cleaning chemicals safely – according to manufacturer's instructions and local laws

  • Serving drinks safely and hygienically (Avoiding handling lip of the cup; aware of dangers of hot liquids/spillages)

  • Demonstrates safe and hygienic work practices when preparing and serving espresso beverages


The role of the barista is:

  • To prepare beverages correctly

  • To communicate information to customers

  • To represent the industry and the work of other coffee professionals

  • Defines the role of the barista in the customer experience and specialty coffee industry

  • The principles of customer service cover products, atmosphere, work environment and service

  • Lists the 4 aspects of customer service


  • Regularly cleaning the machine creates beverages that taste good, protects the long-term health of the equipment, and maintains a positive image to customers

  • Describes the importance of and demonstrates good techniques for daily cleaning of the grinder and espresso machine

Good practice for daily cleaning of equipment includes:

  • Thorough cleaning of the steam wand

  • Wiping drying the bean hopper.

  • Emptying the doser chamber and brushing out all excess ground coffee beans thoroughly.

  • Wiping splashes and spills on outside of grinder and machine.

  • Back flushing the espresso machine with coffee detergent at least once a day.

  • Brushing and cleaning group heads of all excess coffee beans and oils.

  • Flushing and cleaning steam wands.

  • Removing and cleaning drip tray.

  • Lists or describes the hygiene implications and operation issues (eg blockages) resulting from not properly purging and wiping the steam wand

Advice for Coffee Brewers

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.

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Audio Notes


  • The origins of coffee as the fruit of different species of coffee tree

  • Identifies Arabica and Robusta and recognizes the coffee tree and cherry

  • The process of getting coffee from the farm through to the final drink

  • Explains journey of coffee, specifically that coffee is picked, the beans are extracted from the fruit and then eventually roasted and brewed

  • Two main coffee species: Arabica and Robusta. The flavor profiles of both species and ability to differentiate Arabica and Robusta in a taste test


  • The definition of strength versus extraction

  • Explains the concentration of coffee in the cup (strength) compared to dissolved coffee from the bean (extraction)


  • A sufficient amount ground coffee is required, per liter of water, to make a high-quality cup of coffee. This is defined as the Gold Cup or Golden Cup standard: 50+grams /±55 grams per liter

  • Identifies the correct ratio of coffee to water required to produce Gold Cup standard coffee

  • The quantity of coffee commonly to make a single espresso

  • Identifies the correct quantity of coffee grams for a single espresso used is 7 – 10g

  • This is dependent on personal choice, culture and the coffee used


  • Grind size affects the rate of extraction (based on surface area) and the speed water can flow through the coffee bed

  • Identifies the appropriate grind texture for espresso, paper filter and French press (cafetiere)

  • The time the water is in contact with the coffee is mainly a function of grind size

  • Explains why each grind size is appropriate


  • The amount of time the water is in contact with the coffee will allow different quantities of solids to be dissolved. This results in different brew times for different brew methods and volumes

  • Describes the amount of time for the following:

  • Filter Coffee (1ltr/32oz +) 4-6 minutes;

  • Single cup filter 1-3 minutes,

  • Espresso 20-30 seconds


  • The correct water temperature is required to dissolve the desired flavors from the ground coffee. This range is 92 - 96C/195 - 250F

  • Defines the correct temperature range for water used to brew coffee


  • An increase in turbulence of the water in contact with the coffee will increase extraction

  • Demonstrates how to use turbulence in different brewing methods as appropriate


  • Water quality varies in different regions and this can affect brew quality and machine function.

  • Demonstrates understanding of the existence of hard and soft water and limescale Explains that water may have unwanted taints/odors


  • Different filtering methods: paper, cloth, espresso basket, metal filter

  • Identifies different filter methods and their characteristics and storage requirements


  • The relationship between pressure brewing and impact on time and grind size

  • Describes the impact of an increase in pressure on the rate of extraction


  • Storage of coffee must manage the following which affect the freshness of coffee: temperature extremes, moisture and light

  • Explains the factors that adversely affect coffee freshness


  • Cleaning (or not cleaning) brewing equipment has a direct impact on the taste of coffee

  • Demonstrates correct equipment cleaning procedures


  • The breakdown in coffee aroma and taste over time, caused by the loss of temperature and/or evaporation

  • Tastes and discusses three reference brews that have been held under varying conditions and times


  • The differences between the following brewing methods: Immersion, Gravity, Pressure

  • The range of different equipment used for brewing coffee

  • Demonstrates the correct use of each method of brewing (immersion, gravity, automatic filter brew, pressure) using the correct grind profile and brewing recipe

  • Demonstrates the correct use of brewing skills on the equipment that is available

  • Knowledge of the correct use of available brewing equipment that uses immersion, gravity and pressure brewing

Sensory Analysis Advice

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.

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Audio Notes


  • A scientific discipline that evokes, measures, analyses and interprets reactions to those characteristics of foods and materials as they are perceived by the senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing

  • It relies on trained and regular tasters, standardised preparation protocol and test design, decisions, and rules.

  • To define in basic terms, what sensory analysis is.

  • To identify the 5 human senses.

  • To recognise that sensory analysis works like a measurement instrument


  • Illustrate stimulus and perception: with examples such as: touch fabrics with different hardness/softness - show optical illusions, place fabric samples in non see-through sacks or boxes with a hole cut out on the side and a paper flap taped to cover the hole, have students guess what material they are touching

  • To show the difference between stimulus and perception


  • Cupping seeks to:

  • Identify potential defects and taints

  • Identify pleasant flavors and their quality

  • Evaluate intensity

  • Record the results

  • It establishes a general picture of a coffee’s potential that can be refined and adjusted to various roasting, blending and brewing practices.

  • Sensory analysis is widely used in food industry, but extends to others (car, pharma, ...). Used for various quality control tasks, new product testing, and consumer testing.

  • To explain, in general terms, how sensory analysis is be used in the coffee industry.

  • To state 4 purposes for cupping coffee.

  • To state at least 3 areas in a coffee business where sensory analysis is applied.


  • Taste specialty vs non-specialty coffees and compare

  • Taste two specialty coffees and compare

  • The aim of sensory analysis in coffee is to be able to recognize and distinguish between different attributes, whether we personally like them or not.

  • To recognise in student's own words differences between a non- specialty coffee and specialty coffee.

  • To compare own description with that of the coffee expert's objective description and qualitative description of the two coffees

  • To realize the goal of sensory evaluation and the learning path of a coffee taster


  • Olfaction, gustation and taction are the three key sensations used in sensory analysis for coffee.

  • Olfactory epithelium in the nasal cavity, taste buds on the soft palate, and muscles in the mouth

  • Not all papillae have taste buds.

  • Flavor perception is a multi-modal

  • To state the 3 key sensations out of the five used in sensory analysis for coffee (not focusing on appearance)

  • To recognize, in general terms, what human sensory organs are used in olfaction, gustation, and taction; and state where each is located.

  • To define flavor perception experience: integrating gustatory, retronasal olfaction and somatosensory systems.


  • Distinguish the difference between taste and smell, as they relate to flavor Perception.

  • Acknowledge that taste exists in the oral cavity and smell is detected by the olfactory bulb in the nasal cavity.

  • Use flavored chewable sweets/candies (alternatively use a sugar free gum) in a blind test, conduct a "pinch the nose" test, and have students try to describe the flavor while nose is pinched, then again once they have opened their nasal passage.

  • To explain the difference between taste and smell, and how they work to together to create flavor perception.


  • There are 5 basic tastes: acidity, bitterness, sweetness, saltiness and umami.

  • All coffees exhibit to a certain degree acidity, bitterness and have a sweet perception (more than they are physically sweet)

  • To recognize that there are 5 basic tastes that our tongues are tasting.

  • To recognize which tastes are most commonly found in coffee

  • To recognize that when there is a mixture of two or more tastes may interact with one another

  • In coffee, saltiness and umami can also be perceived although their identification and naming is less spontaneous than acidity, bitterness and sweet perception.

  • Acknowledge that when eating and drinking we are rarely only tasting one sensation in isolation, coffee is a complex solution of several tastes.

  • Threshold of detection and identification varies between individual

  • To recognize perception varies between individuals.


  • List the 5 basic tastes

  • Identify the 5 basic tastes in a blind assessment

  • Solutions should be prepared at highest concentration level in the practical exam


  • Explore the 9 main flavor categories flavor categories of the SCA Flavor Wheel. Use the corresponding Nez Du Café References in the Coffee Lexicon.

  • These aromas will be present in the dry fragrance

  • To list the five basic tastes

  • To distinguish between the 5 basic tastes in a blind assessment of solutions.

  • To adopt an objective description of the sensations through to the brewed coffee

  • To list the 9 categories of flavor found on the SCA Flavor Wheel.

  • To recognize categorial aroma references using the Le Nez du Café kit.

  • To demonstrate basic use of the Le Nez du Café kit.

  • Carry out a simple category exploration as a group of the 9 categories. Use picture boards with aroma vials to make stronger cognitive links

  • To demonstrate basic use of the SCA Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel and Coffee Lexicon

  • To demonstrate ability to objectively and accurately describe sensations



  • In coffee, basic tastes and aromas do not exist in isolation and they need to be recognized within the brewed coffee itself

  • The body of the coffee describes the apparent viscosity, fullness and weight in the mouth ranging from "thin, watery" to "thick, heavy"

  • Body also refers to the tactile "mouthfeel" or texture of a coffee (e.g., smooth/rough, soft/hard, juicy/astringent, etc).

  • Different coffees will have different perceived tastes and body

  • To recognize that coffee is complex solution with many different tastes, aromas, and body sensations present

  • To define "body" in sensory analysis of coffee


  • Group example comparing milk and water to show mouthfeel

  • To distinguish the key attributes of following acidity, bitterness, and body in brewed coffee.

  • To adopt an evaluation of the sensations

  • Acidity (low vs high)

  • Bitterness (low vs objective high)

  • Body (low vs intensity of the high)

  • Acknowledge that acidity, bitterness and body in green coffee are origin and process dependent


  • Key positive aromas from coffee (reference aromas from previous exercises)

  • Specialty Coffee Association 'Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel'

  • Identify simple category differences in aroma groups in a practical blind test, tasting brewed coffees.

  • Recall Flavor Wheel Categories categories in a written test

  • Recognize out of 4 categories of flavor on the flavor wheel, 3 of them are flavors that are associated with positive attributes, 1 with negative attribute.

  • To recognize the difference between an objective descriptive sensory evaluation of sensations and a qualitative categorization of those same sensations

  • To state the 9 main categories of flavor found on 'Coffee Taster's the SCA inner Flavor Wheel' Flavor Wheel

  • To distinguish positive aromas from negative (non desirable) aromas in coffee

  • To categorize positive and negative (non Green/Vegetative, Sour/Fermented categorize flavors often associated with processing, storage, roasting, and brewing defect. TBD in more depth in professional level.


  • Standard terminology is used to aid clear communication

  • Key terms used in cupping, such as acidity and body. Mention astringency and balance (TBD in intermediate)

  • To recognise some standard terminology used by cuppers, which are listed in the WCR Sensory Lexicon and SCA Flavor Wheel

  • To distinguish between positive and negative key terms

  • To acknowledge that coffee professionals use a consistent standardized language to aid communication between themselves and others in the coffee value chain.

  • Specialty Coffee Association 'Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel'


  • “Coffee cupping is a method used to systematically evaluate the aroma and taste quality characteristics of a sample of coffee beans” – (Ted Lingle 2001)

  • It is a sensory analysis process specific to coffee

  • Cupping focuses on the coffee sensory

  • To define coffee cupping characteristics eg aroma, taste, texture, ... but considered in a qualitative way

  • To name SCA cupping and Cup of Excellence cupping

  • To acknowledge cupping is a SCA Cupping Protocol

  • Different methods exists. Ex: SCA cupping, Cup of Excellence cupping, ...classification of quality by experts

  • To acknowledge cupping is a different exercise from the objective description of the sensory characteristics

  • To acknowledge that when cupping coffee, we use our eyes, nose, and mouth to assess visual, aromatic, taste, and tactile qualities.

  • To acknowledge it evaluates how qualitative is the aroma, taste and texture


  • Have students recognize the official SCA Cupping Form, use a simplified version for activity below

  • To define the key terms used in SCA Cupping Protocol

  • To be aware of the terminology for the qualitative cupping evaluation

  • To refer to the 8 steps of the SCA cupping methodology

  • To recognize the official SCA Cupping Form.

  • State the importance of a standard protocol and learn its procedure for cupping

  • Set out the standard steps preparing and brewing a cupping session

  • To refer to SCA standards for cupping, roasting and water brew ratio


  • Memorize and repeat the standard process of setting up a cupping session, through practice

  • Re-Define key terms used in a cupping session

  • Recall standard measurements and protocol in a written test

  • Each student to set up one sample of coffee, to SCA standard, compare at least 3 distinct coffees amongst the group.

  • To set up a SCA cupping table using correct tools, measurements, and protocol.

  • To practice the tasting protocol


  • A hygienic odor- free work space for cupping

  • To understand the environment has an influence on the evaluation and therefore should be controlled

  • Equipment that is necessary to a cupping session - To list core equipment needed for SCA cupping


  • Acidity: A basic taste characterized by the solution of an organic acid. A desirable sharp and pleasing taste ... as opposed to an over-fermented sour taste

  • Aftertaste: The sensation produced by the lingering taste and aroma

  • Aroma: The sensation of the gases released from brewed coffee, as they are inhaled through the nose by sniffing

  • Astringent: An aftertaste sensation consistent with a dry feeling in the mouth, undesirable in coffee

  • Balance: A pleasing combination of two or more primary taste sensations

  • Basic Tastes: The five basic tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami

  • Body: The physical properties of the beverage. A strong, but pleasant, full mouthfeel characteristic

  • Break: Aromatic assessment of the crust as it is broken three times

  • Clean: Free from flavor taints or faults

  • Crust Aromatic assessment of the crust of wet coffee

  • grounds that forms on the top of the brew surface immediately after brewing

  • Cupping A method used to systematically evaluate the

  • aroma and taste characteristics of a sample of coffee beans

  • Cupping Glasses/Bowls: All cups or glasses used should be of the same volume, dimensions and material of manufacture:

  • Cupping Glasses: 5 to 6 oz tempered glass of Porcelain bouillon bowls of 175-225ml clean cups should be clean with no apparent fragrance and at room temperature

  • Cupping Grind: Coarser than filter grind with 70% to 75% passing through a 850mμ or US Size 20 sieve

  • Cupping Roast: "Sample roast targets: Time: 8 – 12 minutes depending on roaster size… Color: Agtron 60 – 65 (M-Basic)/Probat 105– 125 (Colorette)... Coffees cupped 8 - 24 hours after roasting"

  • Dry Assessment of the fragrance of the dry coffee grounds after grinding and prior to brewing

  • Flavor: The sensation in mouth the coffee gives by the combination of Tastes and Aromas in the liquid phase

  • Fragrance / Aroma: The sensation of the gases released from roasted and ground coffee beans, as the aromatic compounds are inhaled through the nose by sniffing

  • Gustation: “The detection of stimuli dissolved in water, oil, or saliva, by the taste buds”

  • Mouthfeel: The tactile sense derived from physical sensations in the mouth during and after ingestion

  • Olfaction: The sense of smell allowing the perception of aroma, fragrance, scents in gas / air using the nose

Advice for Coffee Roasting

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


  • Coffee roasting and roasting equipment

  • Common roaster parts and design elements

  • Names of processes and changes

  • Use common terminology to describe a coffee roaster, its operation, and the changes that occur during the roasting process.

  • Common features and controls on drum roasters

  • Identify common design elements of a coffee roaster Describe how air moves through a roasting system and how control manipulations can affect the roast.


  • Describe the order and coffee roasting process with the physical progression of the changes to the coffee that occur in roasting. Identify that such changes determine the roast level.

  • Water evaporation

  • Change in color

  • First crack

  • Change in size

  • Second crack

  • Record time, temperature and other relevant data on roast logs along with observations during and after a roast record:

  • Temperature at time (roast profile)

  • Colour of roasted coffee

  • Weight loss

  • Volume gain

  • Cupping observations

  • Produce a roast profile and description of the properties of a roasted coffee

  • Identify the use of a roast profile as a tool to support quality control processes and to determine if a roast is acceptable

  • Calculate development time and temperature midway point

  • How to record and calculate specific events during the development of a complete roast cycle.

  • Temperature midway point

  • Development time

  • Identify critical events during a roast cycle to enable calculation of development time Calculate and record different transformational phases of roast development

  • The relationship between flame and roast speed and their measurement on the roast log

  • The heat source heats up the air and the roast chamber which in turn heats up the beans so the speed of the temperature increment depends on the heat source settings during the roast. So the following causal succession applies

  • Heat source

  • Air/roast chamber

  • Beans

  • Discuss the basic effects of time and heat on roast development Predict what changes in heat application are needed to effect a change in the flavor of a roasted coffee


  • Logging/documentation information about the roast

  • Identify what information should be placed in the Roasters Guild roast log (adjust to regional variations)

  • Sensorial changes that occur during roasting

  • Basic color changes that occur during the roasting process and the taste associated with them

  • Describe basic tastes and aromas associated with different roast colours


  • Safety in the roasting plant

  • Common dangers in the roasting process, including roaster fires, ventilation and personal safety

  • Recognize the common dangers involved in the roasting process Describe the preventative measures and corrective actions to ensure safety in the workplace

  • Roaster cleaning and maintenance

  • Remove chaff/deposits

  • Lubrication

  • Consult the manual

  • Identify and describe the regular cleaning and maintenance requirements of a roaster Identify the importance of reading and being familiar with the coffee roaster manual

Advice for Green 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 species and variety/cultivar The two main species of coffee grown commercially are Arabica and Canephora

  • Identify the difference between species and variety/cultivar Identify the two main species of coffee grown commercially Recognise that Canephora is commonly called Robusta

  • Genetic differences in the species mean that each species is farmed in different areas of the world

  • Explain that Robusta requires a warmer and consistently wetter climate to survive than Arabica


  • PHYSIOLOGICAL DIFFERENTIATION Physiological differences in the species seed mean they: 1. Taste different

  • 2. Look different physically

  • 3. Have a different economic value


  • Coffee's origin. Recognize that the coffee species we drink have been spread around the globe by people and that coffee originates in Africa

  • Identify that all coffee is indigenous to Africa and that:

  • Arabica originates from Ethiopia/South Sudan

  • Robusta originates from Central Africa (Uganda) and West Africa


  • Coffee cannot grow throughout the world and there are certain climates that can sustain coffee and those that cannot

  • Identify that coffee growing countries are broadly located between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn

  • Certain factors limit where coffee can grow; coffee is susceptible to frost and has optimum growing conditions

  • Describe the impact of climate on coffee cultivation

  • Describe the connection between severe frost and potential internal damage to the plant tissue which can kill plants


  • The amount of Arabica grown annually is different from the amount of Robusta grown annually and is approximately 60%

  • Identify the split of production, by percentage, between the amount of Arabica and Robusta grown annually

Distinguish between:

  • The increased bitterness/reduced sweetness, and increased mouthfeel intensity of Robusta

  • The increased sweetness and acidity of Arabica

  • The physical difference in size and elliptical shape of the seed

  • Arabica and 40% Robusta


  • Different countries produce different volumes of coffee, measured as 60kg bags

  • Total volume of coffee is measured and monitored on an annual basis

  • Identify trends in coffee production:

  • The long-term trend is for increasing production

  • It is different every year


  • Farms of different sizes grow coffee

  • Distinguish between the terms “smallholder” and “farm” and show awareness of the different production goals in the supply chain

  • Recognize the variation in volumes of coffee produced by each country and identify that:

  • Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee

  • Brazil is the world’s largest Arabica producer

  • Vietnam is the world’s largest Robusta producer

  • Brazil is the largest producer of natural processed Arabica

  • Colombia is the largest producer of washed Arabica


  • There are different farming systems used throughout the world to grow coffee

  • Explain that plants are looked after differently by farmers depending on circumstance and tenure

  • Differences in yields and pest resistance change the way farmers grow coffee. Robusta has higher potential yields than Arabica

  • Identify that:

    • Robusta has higher potential yields of around 50% than Arabica.

    • Robusta is more pest resistant and disease resistant than Arabica


  • Common principles of processing

  • Recognize that processing is common to all coffees as the seed must be harvested from the cherry

  • Processing is different in different countries, often as a result of cultural norms rather than process or quality optimisation. Post-harvest process will modify the sensory profile of a coffee

  • Coffee: Growing, Processing, Sustainable Production - JN Wintgens (2009)

  • There are different risks associated with different processing methods. All processing methods must be done carefully in order to avoid defects

  • In a practical cupping test be able to: 1. Distinguish between a natural and washed processed coffee of the same species 2. Identify core sensory differences between different process methodologies of the same species

  • Identify the risks associated with different processing methods


  • Different picking methodologies exist and the quality and consistency of ripe coffee cherry will vary depending on the type of harvesting carried out

  • Coffee: Growing, Processing, Sustainable Production - JN Wintgens (2009)

  • Different land ownership systems will have different types and amounts of processing equipment on a coffee farm, ranging from none through to a fully integrated system


  • The washed process is a broad term for a number of processes that involve the removal of pulp and mucilage from the coffee seed Different processes will produce different physical and sensory profiles. (see references)

  • Describe the basic stages of the washed process Distinguish between a Brazilian washed process and natural NY2 process coffee on the cupping table

  • Recognize a pulper when shown a picture of either a vertical disc, horizontal drum, or eco pulper

  • Describe the washed coffee as more acidic and a natural coffee as being sweeter with more fruitiness


  • The natural (or dry process) is a broad term for a number of processing methods that involve drying whole coffee cherries (see references)

  • Describe the basic stages of the natural process

  • Distinguish between strip picking, selective picking and mechanical picking


  • Pulped natural process is a broad term for a group of processing methods (including honey processing) where none or a small amount of mucilage as well as the pulp is removed from the coffee seed (see references)


  • Coffee is dried using a variety of methods after the first stage(s) of processing. This is to reduce the moisture content of coffee to a point at which it will remain stable over long periods of time

  • Recall that different methodologies of drying exist and distinguish between:

  • Patios

  • African raised beds

  • Mechanical drying Identify the purpose of drying coffee

  • Espresso Coffee - Illy & Viani (2005)


  • Prior to export the husk or parchment of coffee needs to be removed and the coffee graded to defined standards

  • Until the point of export, it is usually stored for at least 2 months or more:

  • 1. Under but close to 12% total moisture

  • 2. At approximately 20°C and 60% RH

  • Explain that coffee has the husk or parchment removed before grading and shipment


  • Coffee is graded and that this is where a difference in quality starts to be defined by the coffee trade.

  • Recall the minimum period that coffee is rested between drying and milling and the optimum storage parameters for coffee stability

  • Identify the difference between a coffee with a high defect count and a low defect count in terms of:

  • Physical difference

  • Cup consistency

  • Distinguish the physical difference in grading between an Ethiopian Djimma 5

  • Describe the basic stages in the pulped natural process and a Brazil NY2 SS FC

  • Coffee is primarily graded by the number of defects and by bean size. Defects can modify quality significantly, leading to unpleasant flavors

  • Identify the impact of defects on cup quality

  • Homogeneous bean size is important in achieving roast consistency and some coffees are sold based on size.

  • Recognize the purpose and benefits of a size screen and be able to use a sizing screen (see equipment below) and report results


  • Futures markets were created to reduce risk

  • Describe the reason for the creation of a futures market

  • A futures market is: “A market that allows you to buy specific weights of coffee at a specified price within a specified future delivery period”

  • Differentiate a cash market from a futures market, and recall the definition of a futures market


  • Coffee is traded on futures markets and the price of physical coffee derives from these markets Arabica is primarily traded on the New York futures market and Robusta is primarily traded on the London futures market

  • List the two main coffee futures markets of New York and London and identify which Species of coffee is traded on each


  • Coffee is shipped almost exclusively by boat and in container. Bag weights are different and different bag materials can be used

  • Coffee: Growing, Processing, Sustainable Production - JN Wintgens (2009)

  • Coffee will change over time during transport and this impacts on quality

  • Recall the key parameters of ICO resolution 402 and use a moisture meter


  • Coffee is documented as coming from an exact crop year. Over time in storage, green coffee quality changes, becoming less fresh This sensory characteristic is categorized as “woody”

  • Recall that coffee is seasonal and the sensory characteristic of old coffee is categorized as 'woody'


  • To keep specialty coffee in optimum condition it should be stored at 20°C and 60% Relative Humidity

  • Recognize that the storage conditions of coffee will affect its longevity. Identify the optimum storage conditions for specialty coffee


  • Part of the coffee industry focuses on socio-economic factors in addition to seeing coffee as a commodity. This may or may not have a quality focus.

  • Explain that differentiation of coffee products through sustainable certification now comes in many forms


  • Ensure documentation exists to identify how coffee can be traced through the value chain.

  • Verify the origin of green coffee and these may include third party certification

  • Identify different bag types from pictures and recall that their weight can vary from 30kg to 21 tons

THIRD PARTY ACCREDITATION : Third party accreditations exist that independently certify different stages in the coffee supply chain against socio-economic and environmental standards


  • This is a coffee that has had most of its caffeine removed by physical process and a solvent medium In EU countries, there has to be a maximum concentration of 0.1% related to the dry mass.

  • Define decaffeinated coffee and identify the standard for this in EU countries

  • Recognize that decaffeinated coffee looks different and cups differently from caffeinated coffee

CAFFEINE : Definition of Caffeine. Caffeine is a bitter alkaloid that has a dose-dependent action on human body. Define caffeine



  • Green coffee enters a dry mill in different shapes and sizes but is sold in homogeneous size bandings known as screen sizes.

  • Recognize a sizing screen when shown one and explain their use in a laboratory or mill

  • Sizing screens are used to determine bean size

  • Demonstrate how to use a set of sizing screens to determine the bean size spread of a sample and report on the results achieved

  • Recognize three certification schemes and their broad goals from a list


  • The purpose of Moisture Meters are...

  • A moisture meter used to confirm the total moisture content for sample. This is needed to confirm whether a sample meets industry standards on moisture. For specialty coffee, that total should be between 8 – 12.5% when tested

  • State the defined total moisture of a coffee.

  • There are different types of moisture meter available and these have different tolerances.

  • Repeat the process of using a conductivity moisture meter to obtain the total moisture of a given coffee sample. Report if the result meets acceptable total moisture levels under ICO res. 420

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.

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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

SCA Coffee English presents Barista Skills Foundation

We're proud to announce that the first full curriculum video recordings for our most popular course: SCA Barista Skills Foundation Module is now available to watch online through our website, YouTube and YouKu video services.

On the website click "SCA Videos" and go to "Barista Foundation" 

On YouTube you can search: "SCA Coffee English" 

On YouKu you can visit:
or search for "SCA_Coffee_English_Training"