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The Specialty Coffee Association is Changing its Membership Model

Specialty Coffee Expo

A crowd entering the 2023 SCA Expo in Portland, Oregon. Daily Coffee News photo.

[Note: This story has been updated since its original publication to include additional information provided by the SCA.]

The world’s largest membership organization for the coffee industry, the Specialty Coffee Association, is substantially revising its membership model.

In an announcement today, the group described the move as its “first major overhaul to its membership program in decades.”

Expected to roll out later this year, the new membership model will simplify the individual membership model to include two membership types as opposed to the current four (barista, roaster, technician or professional).

Additionally, the new model will allow companies to “be able to connect all staff to its account and provide custom education pathways across SCA programs,” according to the SCA.

SCA membership

An SCA event in 2022. Daily Coffee News photo.

The Specialty Coffee Association came through the 2016 merger of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). An SCA representative told DCN that the organization currently has just under 8,000 paid member individuals and companies. 

In the SCA’s most recently published financial report, dated Sept. 30, 2019, revenues from memberships totaled approximately $1.96 million, which accounted for just over 10% of the nonprofit organization’s total revenues in the 2018/19 year.

Company Plans

The SCA has not specified pricing related to company plans, which currently exist in a tiered system that costs $300 annually for “small” companies up to $1,600 for the largest companies. Membership costs will continue to be based on the company size, with price increases taking effect in July. 

SCA CEO Yannis Apostolopoulos told DCN via email today that the new company plans are being designed to increase employee access while customizing resources and education materials. 

“We’re putting a lot of effort into improving the company memberships, allowing businesses to connect as many staff as they want to their company account, introducing a simpler discount model for event tickets, and introducing a feature that allows a company to create a customized professional development pathway through SCA’s education and publications,” Apostolopoulos said. “This is all in addition to our current discount model for companies who exhibit at our trade shows around the world.”

Individual Memberships

When the new plan is instituted, there will be two types of individual memberships: associate and professional.

The associate membership, which is free, carries benefits such as discounts to SCA events and merchandise, as well as access to memberships in the group’s trade guilds (Roaster, Barista and Technician). It will not include voting rights in the organization’s elections.

The professional membership, priced at $100 annually, will give members all the benefits of the associate plan, including access to published standards and “additional promotional benefits,” plus voting rights.

This model will supplant the current membership structure, which includes four membership types loosely based on job position (barista, roaster, technician or associate). The barista membership currently costs $100 annually, while the other three cost $200, with discounts available for multi-year commitments.

“This new model will vastly increase the SCA’s reach and engagement, bringing the value of its research, standards, and programming to the growing international community,” the SCA said in today’s announcement. “It also furthers the SCA’s commitment to foster global coffee communities to support thriving, sustainable, and equitable activity for the entire value chain.”

[Publisher’s note: Due to a miscalculation, this story was initially published ahead of an embargo time that was requested by the SCA. The SCA has subsequently published and promoted its press release. We sincerely apologize to the SCA, as well as to other news outlets reporting on this story, for the error.]

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