Back to School: Coffee Education and Academia | Letter From The Editor

IMG_3232Since I was a kid through my college years, I was always eager to go to school. I like learning, being exposed to different ways of thinking about things, and looking at life through the perspectives of those who have come before us. Sometimes history repeats itself and it becomes clear that we need to take a look at previously held beliefs and reevaluate their relevance and role in the world we live in today. Such is the way of coffee. Still, we must recognize that there is much we have yet to discover. Collaborations between industry and academia will help us get closer to understanding coffee, and how to ensure its sustainability for generations to come.

The difference, however, is that we’ve only begun the study of coffee quality. The academic (and experiential) study of coffee quality is in its infancy. We have done some research. We’ve experimented with brew ratios and roasting techniques. We’ve made some great progress as an industry towards building a knowledge base for future students of coffee to learn from.

For me, the worlds of coffee and academia collided in my last year at California State University, Long Beach. I was majoring in International Studies with a focus on Latin America, and working at a local coffee shop. I had been a barista for the better part of the ten years leading up to this, when I realized that I could connect my love for learning with my love for coffee through an internship with the very organization where I now work. Once exposed to this community, there was little I could do to turn back, and why would I want to? In an environment that promotes endless opportunities for growth and learning, I felt like I had stumbled into a wonderland of coffee geekery.

SCAA educational programs have been a staple in the industry’s quest for knowledge and best practices for over two decades. Specialty coffee was born out of a desire to connect, to share information, and develop one’s own skills. Specialty coffee wants to be better, to be the best, to live up to its full potential. So do the people who work in coffee.

In this issue, you’ll hear from academics and coffee professionals who have dedicated their time and passion to seeing how they can contribute to the greater knowledge base for this growing and thriving industry we’ve cultivated.


Lily Sig




Lily Kubota
Executive Editor