The Specialty Coffee Association has announced sweeping changes to their membership models. “The first major overhaul in decades,” the new model “will focus on providing value and connectivity to the growing international community, enhanced features for companies, and new pricing structure.”

Made public today, March 7th via press release, the SCA’s rethought membership plan have been significantly streamlined. Under the prior scheme, company memberships had five tiers, generally based on size: Small, Medium, Large, Corporate, and Associates. Each tier allowed for a different number of individual memberships to be doled out at the company’s discretion. Under the new plan, companies will be able to “connect all staff to its account and provide custom education pathways across SCA programs.”

The most significant change, though, comes to the individual memberships. Previously broken into four different options—Barista, Roaster, Technician, and Professional—each with a different fee level, the new individual membership now has just two options, an associate and a professional membership.

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At the introductory level is the associate tier, a completely free membership designed for “individuals interested in participating in SCA events, education, and competitions, and for those seeking access to resources, standards, or Guild selection.” The professional membership, a step up from the associate, runs $100 USD and gives “members voting rights and additional promotional benefits,” including additional resources—including certificates and brand assets—and additional online benefits on the SCA’s new digital forum.

Per the press release, the new membership model was created to “vastly increase the SCA’s reach and engagement” and will help broaden the field of folks globally who can access their research, standards, and programming. “Whether they’re new members, individuals about to join or long-standing members,” SCA director Yannis Apostolopoulos tells Sprudge, “we’re working to make sure they experience all the benefits of the new model, including the features of the professional or company tier.”

Currently the SCA’s paid membership count is “just under eight thousand individuals and companies,” per Apostolopoulos. “We expect the new model will allow us to increase our membership to hundreds of thousands by the end of the year.”

Why now? In 2024 this represents a significant overhaul of the SCA’s membership model, and the timing represents years of work behind the scenes at the organization. “For years now, we’ve been working to reevaluate how we build a more effective and valuable membership program for all our stakeholders,” says Apostolopoulos. “This was led by a multi-year strategy set by our board that among other things, asked us to expand our global network, enhance the user experience by utilizing local communities, and create opportunities for professional engagement and individual growth…but also, we wanted to acknowledge and engage the hundreds of thousands of individuals and companies we engage with each year and recognize them as being part of our community, and part of the SCA.”

The new format will officially roll out later this year. Current members, as well as interested would-be members, can reach out to the SCA directly with questions at

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.