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SCA Unveils Its Coffee Sustainability Program

SCA Coffee Sustainability Program

Daily Coffee News photo.

The Specialty Coffee Association has announced the launch of its Coffee Sustainability Program, a professional education program that responds to the growing demand of sustainability in the coffee business.

In format, the program is similar to the SCA’s popular Coffee Skills Program — which covers such subjects such as barista skills, sensory skills, green coffee and roasting — in that it offers three levels, required in sequence: Foundation, Intermediate and Professional.

“The SCA saw a need for this curriculum for many reasons,” SCA Chief Sustainability Officer Kim Elena Ionescu said in a news announcement from the SCA today, noting the increase in sustainability positions within coffee companies, faster growth by companies with sustainability mandates, interest among younger people in working for companies whose values reflect theirs, and threats to coffee production. “Many of these threats have been building across generations but require action by this generation for the industry to have a viable future.”

Pricing for the courses is typically determined by the Authorized SCA Trainers (ASTs) running the course at any number of approved SCA member-campuses throughout the globe. Updated course schedules and locations can be found here.

According to the SCA, the curriculum for the Foundation-level course is ready to go, while the curricula for Intermediate and Professional will be ready soon. Here’s a brief overview of each level from the SCA:

  • Foundation – The program’s first course covers the major sustainability issues facing the coffee industry today and offers baseline knowledge of what the term “sustainability” means, how it is connected to power dynamics, current and historical events and practices, as well as a variety of coffee projects.
  • Intermediate – The Intermediate course introduces learners to global sustainability challenges and prepares learners to begin thinking analytically about the impact they’d like to make in the sector.
  • Professional – The Professional course offers an intensive, practical experience in which learners design, carry out, and assess their own sustainability project in accordance with their individual, organizational, or business goals and capabilities



Mo’ Money vs. Khan Academy

While I fully support the SCA launching curriculum focusing on sustainability, it seems hypocritical to charge members for a curriculum which can likely be done via an interactive video presentation for little financial investment from the association.

Paying for this course will also limit access to information to only those who can afford to pay for the course. This gives people who have enough disposable income a competitive advantage to gain official recognition for professional development over those who are not in the same financial situation. The irony here is that I can image during the course it will be mentioned people with limited financial means are marginalized and often left out of the conversation, and often don’t get officially “recognized” for knowing course materials, and do not have as much opportunity for professional development curriculum courses such as this one, because they often have limited funds for extra “curricular” activities.

Andre Eiermann

I have very much enjoyed the foundation and intermediate class so far. It was hold by The Chain Collaborative as an online course. It provided with with a good fundament to build our sustainability activities upon. I also enjoyed very much the exchange with the other students. In total a very inspiring and great learning experience.

Martha Djourdjin

Hi Andre,
It says in the article the curriculum for the intermediate level was not even ready? Is it this same course that you took? How much depth was there in the class? Did you look at case studies?
I am very excited about this development, I hope it’s as good as it sounds.

Nora D Burkey

There are very few ASTs who can teach the Foundation level at this time, and even fewer who can teach Intermediate. Over time, this will change, but The Chain Collaborative can offer both levels currently. We do look at case studies in Intermediate! Please get in touch to learn more via our website!

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