Committee Spotlight: Meet Your SCAA Technical Standards Committee


The Technical Standards Committee is one of the longest continuously functioning volunteer committees within the SCAA. Our responsibility is to conduct research to establish specialty coffee standards and determine industry best practice for publication on behalf of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. We serve the members of the SCAA and the coffee industry as a whole.

SCAA committees are made up of
volunteers from the global coffee community. The individuals who serve on the Technical Standards Committee are dedicated individuals who have earned professional certifications including SCAA & CQI instructor credentials, and have a demonstrated and respected expertise in the technical aspects of coffee.
The ideal committee member has a high-level functional expertise in the coffee industry; including farming, trading, roasting, quality control, grinding & packaging, retail operations/ barista, etc., and has expert-level technical knowledge to design projects, perform research, conduct peer review for standards and protocols used in quality testing and educational curriculum, as well as for determining industry best practices. A requirement for committee membership is access to coffee, laboratory testing equipment and research materials, including the expertise and resources to lead
or contribute to technical projects. Committee members may also convene a task force for collaboration with other specialty coffee professionals on a project. In short, this is a working committee; our members are actively leading or contributing to technical projects.

Typically, committee members make a multi-year commitment to participate, since many research projects require extended times for completion. Our research is commonly conducted through our own technical project design, surveys of current business best practices, coordinating with other specialty coffee professionals, and reviewing published standards from the International Standards Organization (ISO), Association Of Analytical Communities (AOAC), American Society
for Testing Materials (ASTM), Green Coffee Association of US (GCA), and the American Society of Quality (ASQ), and others. We also include various origin-based coffee associations in our research when required by projects. Members of the committee, by virtue of their employment or business, regularly participate in coffee science conferences around the world. To accomplish our projects, we collaborate within the SCAA, with Roasters Guild, the Barista Guild, and the Professional Development Committee, often creating cross-functional task forces.

The Technical Standards Committee develops SCAA Standards through a process
of research, testing, and peer review. We
utilize consensus principles, which include the participation of stakeholders with an interest
in their development and use. Specialty 
coffee stakeholders include professionals throughout the seed-to-cup supply chain, including scientists, academic researchers,
and subject matter experts. SCAA Standards are, in turn, utilized throughout the supply chain as a common universal method when preparing and evaluating coffee to make a quality determination. Other uses for SCAA Standards are to ensure a uniform and consistent education curriculum through SCAA professional development programs. Our committee is also responsible for approving specialty coffee best practices (techniques or procedures used in the coffee industry that
are widely accepted as being correct or most effective) to be published by the SCAA.

In 2007, the Technical Standards Committee created the Technical Edit and Peer Review Committee (TEPRC). This specialized group independently supports the professional development committee and executes the critical role of ensuring SCAA standards, protocols, and best practices are communicated correctly in all SCAA educational curriculum. Also, TEPRC reviews SCAA Pathway classes

to confirm industry best practices and verify that they are communicated appropriately for educational purposes. The TEPRC’s editors are recognized specialty coffee professionals with experience and expertise in various functional areas within the industry, including scientific research and practical application.

New for 2016, the Technical Standards Committee has established a Fellowship program to provide specialty coffee professionals and inexperienced SCAA volunteers the opportunity to immerse themselves in committee operations and be learn about the committee’s research, technical projects, and peer review debate, as well as the creation of SCAA standards and identification of coffee industry best practices. This program will provide access to thought leaders and technical experts through participation in all Technical Standards Committee activities.

1Some of the projects that we are currently working on include: updating grind standard for cupping, creating a water activity standard for specialty quality green coffee, publishing coffee brewing best practices, publishing green coffee logistics & storage best practices, defining defect standards for naturally processed green coffee, and technical assistance to update the Coffee Cuppers Handbook. We are collaborating with the Roasters Guild to develop a roasted coffee evaluation form, with the Barista Guild on the definition of espresso, and with Professional Development Committee to review the SCAA Campus Requirements. Other projects that are in development are establishing food safety standards and preparation best practices for cold brew coffee and Cascara products.

As you can see, there is a full assortment of projects for the volunteers who make up the SCAA Technical Standards Committee. We have a long list of projects that are regularly evaluated and re-prioritized as the needs of the SCAA and the specialty coffee industry change. Our committee members serve the SCAA out of enthusiasm, dedication, and passion for specialty coffee.

The 2016/2017 Technical Standards committee members are:

  • Mane Alves – Coffee Lab International
  • Dr. Flavio Borem – Federal University of Lavras, Brazil
  • Marty Curtis – Combustion System Sales Service
  • Chris Hallien – Kraft Heinz
  • James Kosalos – San Cristobal Coffee Importers/FincaLab
  • Marino Petracco – Illycaffe
  • Randy Pope – Bunn-O-Matic
  • John Sanders – Hines Public Market Coffee
  • Dean Vastardis – BKON
  • Spencer Turer – Coffee Analysts

Invited participants working with the committee:

  • Jonathan Zangwill – MARS
  • David Sager – Di Bella Coffee

This information was prepared and presented by the volunteer members of the SCAA Technical Standards Committee.