Foundations of Coffee


Laying the groundwork for a life in coffee, Foundations of Coffee serves as the introduction to all of the Pathways and builds a vocabulary, both spoken and sensed, that will serve each subsequent class in any chosen course of study. Lectures touching on varied subjects that impact coffee such as agronomy, earth sciences, economics, and sociology will bring to life the seed to cup journey as students explore the many steps along the global supply chain.

Foundations of Coffee coursework will shift to a closer inspection of how the senses and chemistry collide, examining how coffees are evaluated through tasting exercises, cupping protocol, and a thorough introduction to flavor perception, as well as the theoretical and practical workings of brewing and extraction. By launching coffee careers with the right tools, Foundations of Coffee will prepare students for their chosen Pathway with a comprehensive overview in the macro and micro forces key to the craft and global industry.



Seed to Cup

A fundamental skill of any specialty coffee professional is to be able to identify key points and explain the journey coffee from seed to cup, having a basic grasp of concepts of coffee’s history, growing conditions and chain of custody.  This information is an underpinning for purchasing decisions and communication along the chain from farmer to consumer.  Engaging, educating and enriching consumers of specialty coffee are inherent in the work of baristas, roasters and retailers, and this class provides accurate, concise information that surveys the custody of coffee, from farmer to barista. Having this basic framework of knowledge will help newcomers to the industry position new information as they learn on the job from others. Two alternatives to meet this requirement are: (1) Attending Coffee Farming RP206 & Coffee Processing RP207 at past events or on the eLearning platform; (2) Attend Origin Trip (Request for Credit | Origin Trip).

Customer Service Essentials

Outstanding customer service is a critical component of creating the specialty coffee experience. Students will identify common keys to great customer service and also steps of service recovery for when things go wrong.  During group discussions, students strategize how to improve customer service interactions and exchange experiences and approaches that have been successful. The class focuses on the specialty coffee barista, but is relevant for all members of the specialty coffee community.

Recommended Prerequisites: CB100, CP101, CP102

Brewing and Extraction Principles

This class is the foundation for all coffee brewing and is essential for any newcomer to the coffee industry.  Coffee professionals need to have a strong knowledge of the principals governing optimum brewing methods and must be able to brew coffee to SCAA’s vetted standards.  CP151 provides this critical instruction and practice.  After a 90 minute break, students return for CP152.

Recommended Prerequisites: CB100, GE103

Brewing and Extraction Principles Applied

This class continues to explore the six essential elements of coffee brewing, both through mechanical and manual brewing methods. Students get hands-on time with the equipment.

Recommended Prerequisites: CB100, GE103

Required Prerequisites: CP151

Orientation to SCAA Cupping

Cupping is the Specialty Coffee Industry’s standard for evaluating green coffee.  Using the SCAA Cupping Protocol and exploring two flights of coffee, participants are introduced to and practice the SCAA protocol, and focus on basic vocabulary from the Coffee Tasters Flavor Wheel for objective, professional coffee quality evaluation.

Recommended Prerequisites: CP151, CP152

Required Prerequisites: CB100

Classes marked with * are NOT required for Licensed Q-Graders. Q-Graders earn credit for GE103: Orientation to SCAA Cupping in the Foundations of Coffee Pathway, but must complete all other classes.