SCAE and SCAA Merger


The SCAE and The SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe and Specialty Coffee Association of America), two of the world’s largest and most significant coffee industry bodies are in talks about merging their interests and their organisations. These talks have been going on for quite some time and they have intensified since the first meeting of the executive committees of both organisations, which took place in Rimini, Italy in June 2014. Initially, the talks were to explore the possibilities for alignment and to set out the potential benefits and drawbacks of increased cooperation. Over the intervening two years, the talk has shifted towards a full-scale merger. SCAE Ireland held a meeting of its Irish members at the end of April.

Greenbean Coffee Roasters have been members of SCAE since 2002. We’re one of SCAE’s longest standing Irish members and the coffee business in Ireland was very different 14 years ago, never mind 30 years ago when we started. We know that representative bodies and industry associations are important. We know that every industry needs a forum through which to communicate, to set standards, to negotiate, to educate and to disseminate information. By and large, the SCAE has performed well in this role over the years.

SCAE and SCAA merger is a good thing.

On balance, we support the merger. In the coffee world, Europe and America don’t compete with each other. Coffee is bought and sold as a commodity. At the most basic level there’s a spot price and a futures price which is available to anyone anywhere in the world. Realistically, it doesn’t matter whether you’re buying from Europe or from the USA. Our American counterparts will continue to trade, more or less as they always have done, as will we. The Specialty Coffee Association will continue to represent the industry and its members. It’s worth remembering that the executive committees of both organisation are elected by the membership and notwithstanding the debates about voting rights in the proposed new arrangement, if we don’t like the direction the new association is taking, we can always vote them out.

New opportunities in the coffee business

A new and enlarged association should create some new opportunities for members. We can expect more consistent standards across the globe, if the merger goes ahead. This will eliminate some of the risk inherent in buying coffee that’s sight unseen. Better classifications, better definitions and more adherence to well-understood standards could diminish the importance of the networks, the trust and the relationships we have built up over many years. This should smooth the path somewhat for any new players entering the market and facilitate more competition in the industry. Despite some fairly predictable grumbling, we all know that competition is the lifeblood of any industry and this is a good thing for the coffee business.

SCAE and SCAA have a proven track record

It is worth noting that the two organisations have already been co-operating and collaborating for years and that both bodies share similar goals. If you look at the mission statements of the SCAE and the SCAA you will notice that the commitments on both sites are to “quality”, “education”, “standards” and “community”. The SCAE and SACAA have jointly supported the World Barista Championships for many years now through World Coffee Events. They have jointly promoted the Re:Co Symposium, which is having its European event in Dublin this coming June. The point I am making is that the SCAE and SCAA are not strangers. The executives and the directors know each other and have already worked together. This bodes well for a successful merger.

Merger could be very positive

We believe that the coffee business in Ireland has nothing to fear from increased cooperation with our counterparts in North America. As long as both organisations exercise some restraint and are take the other side’s objectives into account, in the initial stages at least, the merger could be a very positive development for coffee growers, roasters, agents and coffee houses and retailers. We look forward to it and we wish both sides well in the negotiations.

More information here on the SCAE website, where members can cast their vote before 17 May 2015.