How to Run SCA Courses in Producing Countries: A Checklist

How to Run SCA Courses in Producing Countries:

A Checklist

Written for Perfect Daily Grind

Ethiopia – SCA training for EWIC (Women In Coffee Ethiopia) with Asli Yaman from Kimma Coffee

Producing countries could be the future of specialty coffee: they have the farms, the coffee shops, the roasteries, the passion and dedication to drive our industry forward. But they’re arguably also where SCA training is most in demand – and where it can have the biggest impact.
I’m a travelling freelance Authorized SCA Trainer and the Founder of Karibu Kahawa Camps, which provides affordable SCA education in East Africa. If you’re thinking of providing SCA training at origin, I encourage you to do it. Let me tell you why – and I’ll also share my checklist for preparing.

You might also like ​How Training Cuppers Supports Honduran Specialty Coffee

Why Are ASTs Needed?

Kenya – SCA Training for Embu University with Rafael Mlodzianowski

As an A​uthorized S​CA (Specialty Coffee Association) T​rainer (AST), I’m qualified to teach a variety of SCA courses. And as a traveller trainer, I must be ready to run coffee courses anywhere with what I have available.

But why am I needed? Especially when more and more producing countries have Q graders?
Q graders are certified coffee cuppers, meaning they can assess the quality of a coffee and also run assessment courses. However, an AST runs training courses. Both have their importance and are needed in producing countries.

A Q grader can help coffee producers understand the quality of their coffee and where it needs improvements. An AST can help a producer understand how to make those improvements. They also train baristas and café owners, roasters, and more – something that producing countries need to boost internal consumption of specialty coffee, creating
more demand for the product.

However, while Q graders are quite well-represented in producing countries, ASTs are often lacking – and it’s at origin where their courses are often needed the most.

Remember that coffee producers are always seeking more knowledge, not just for themselves but also so they can transfer this knowledge to their children, who, very often, leave the coffee farming life behind because it’s too hard to make a profit.


What Should You Do Before You Fly?

Get vaccinated​. Yellow fever is one of the most important ones, depending on your destination. Take Kenya: if you arrive overland during the rainy season, you won’t be allowed to enter without a certificate of vaccination.

Get good insurance that’s valid in the countries you’re going to – accidents can happen anywhere!

Get a bank card you can use abroad​. Whether it’s a prepaid cash card, Visa, or Mastercard, you want something that will be accepted by most ATMs and with minimal charges. (Or you can get traveller’s cheques, if they’re still in use where you’re going).

Get enough luggage! ​As you may need to bring your own equipment, choose the airline that offers the biggest luggage allowance and/or most affordable extra luggage.


What Do You Need to Pack for Your Courses?

Plastic cupping bowls, aroma phials in plastic boxes…

Think plastic! ​It’s much more transportable and durable than either glass or ceramics. Putyour aroma vials in plastic boxes, bring plastic cupping bowls, plastic V60s…. you get the idea.

Think carefully about the coffee beans ​you bring. Generally, producing countries don’t import coffee from other countries, so if you want to expose your students to different origins and potentially different varieties or processing methods, you will have to bring that coffee with you.



Don’t Forget!

Colombia – With a student, Angie Molina, from Insignia Coffee Roasters, in La Noreña, Tolima. (picture taken by Jhon Espitia)

Language​: You may need a translator, whether it’s for Spanish, Swahili, French, Cantonese…

Respect​: You have been invited to a different culture. Be humble. In some cultures, men might be asked to not be alone with women. Or women may have to wear a head wrap.

Get involved​: One of the best ways to start is to do it gratis. In coffee-producing countries, most of your students won’t be able to afford SCA courses. However, they will be happy to offer lodging, food, and green beans for your services. Later, they can become great connections at origin, introducing you to new students and involving you in their coffee projects.

And finally: donate more, earn less, gain a lot!


The result!

Colombia – Specialty coffee shop proud owner of Café con Alma, Edward Gómez, in Ibagué

The future of Specialty coffee is at origin!







With Joshua I., a farmer from Embu County, in his family’s coffee farm.

Régine Guion-Firmin.



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