In the coffee industry, standing behind the bar isn’t the only option. There are many career opportunities beyond that, and if you would like to expand your skills and knowledge in coffee, you may want to consider becoming an Authorized SCA Trainer (AST).
Currently, there is no university degree that focuses on coffee and creating an official title of coffee teacher or barista. Latte art, for example, is a skill that can be obtained by the individual themselves. Thus, in the absence of a “regulated law,” some associations create their own certifications, one of which is the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). It isn't a requirement to obtain SCA certifications, but it’ll certainly add to your credibility in the industry.
So, What’s an Authorized SCA Trainer (AST)?
In short, an AST is a coffee professional who shares their knowledge and training skills through the Coffee Skill Program (CSP) from SCA. Based on their website, SCA is a membership-based association built on foundations of openness, inclusivity, and the power of shared knowledge. From coffee farmers to baristas and roasters, our membership spans the globe, encompassing every element of the coffee value chain.
An AST Certificate Program will help add credibility to your products, as SCA is a globally recognized program.
What Are The Requirements?
The eligibility for applicants vary, but the most popular offering is the Coffee Skills Programs, in which need you would need to pass Intermediate and Professional courses in the modules you would like to teach, acquire comprehensive coffee knowledge, career experience on the topic, and expertise in training adults. You can add more modules to your portfolios by completing Professional course levels and obtaining your additional module license. You can learn more about eligibility on SCA’s website.
How to Be an Authorized SCA Trainer (AST)?
SCA offers six pieces of training: Green Coffee, Sensory, Roasting, Brewing, Barista Skills, and Introduction to Coffee. You can take various courses, but we suggest focusing on the subject you’re familiar with and interested in because the ability to teach comes from doing it often.
You need to pass three levels: Foundation, Intermediate, and Professional. You can skip the foundation level if you already have specific experiences in the area – evaluated by the trainer. Once you pass the Intermediate level, you can take the three-day course and professional-level exam within three months.
After passing the Professional-level exam, you can apply to be the AST to SCA. SCA will then assess your application by asking for references from fellow ASTs and the curriculum offered by your trainer. Once your application is accepted, you’ll take the two-day course about teaching techniques, workflows, and SCA procedures. This course is now available online. Once completed, you’ll need to pay the three-year fee of an Authorized SCA Trainer to be able to examine and certify students.
What Are the Pros and Cons of being an SCA Trainer?
The plus side is that you’ll expand your network and gain new knowledge that will help you enhance your coffee career and gain more opportunities. By meeting new people from different cultures and backgrounds, you’ll also learn from their experiences.
The course, however, is long, exhausting, and pricey. Manon Larrieu, a young AST from Paris, France, said to European Coffee Trip that she spent around 1400 euros (or about 1482 USD) to complete the CSP module – excluding transport and accommodations. She also needed to pay 1500 euro (about 1588 USD) for the license fee valid for three years and additional 200 euro (around 212 USD) for each module you plan to teach.
Furthermore, you must deliver two certifications for each module you’re certified per year. So if you have two modules: Barista and Brewing, you would need to provide four credentials in total per year.
What Does It Take to Become a Great SCA Trainer?
Many people can be a trainer, but what does it take to be an exciting SCA trainer for your students? According to Perfect Daily Grind, an SCA Trainer is a trainer, not a lecturer. You should be able to successfully share your knowledge and skills about coffee by tracking responses from the students.
Second of all, you should remain neutral. You might hate some new developments in coffee – as it constantly changes, but you shouldn’t be biased. However, even if you’re neutral, it doesn’t mean you should be calm. A great SCA Trainer shows passion and inspires students. You should demonstrate your excitement about coffee even if there’s something you don’t like.
Another thing you should tick off is that you should be able to feel the mood and be creative. You need to understand when your students may be feeling bored, and you have to be creative and adaptable.
In summary, being an SCA Trainer takes effort and costs money, but you can enhance your skills and credibility, as well as expand your network. If you’re looking for a career change from being the person behind the bar, becoming an SCA Trainer could be a great option.