By Jackie Malone
The Chapter structure of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) plays a critical role in fastening the coffee community together. SCA Chapters connect people at a local level who have a shared passion that revolves around coffee—be they baristas, coffee shop owners, small or large businesses. The community is diverse and dynamic, and the Chapter committees work at engaging all members through communication, education, competitions, guilds, and other activities.
Chapters are the SCA’s channel on the ground, ensuring that all national committee coordinators reflect the vision and aspirations of the association in engaging with members and the wider community. This is done in many ways for the community, mainly through competitions—where the community is there competing, sponsoring, or supporting. This is an activity where the day-to-day business of coffee is left outside and people join together in conversation. It is the annual celebration of coffee professionals who want to compete and learn more, ultimately representing their Chapter (country) at the World Coffee Championships.
But it’s not just about competitions—Chapters are now planning festivals, engaging with the Guilds, and bringing not only their own communities together, but also their fellow Chapters. Through events such as CoLab, Barista and Rosters Camps—and the further development of the guilds such as Technicians & Producers Guilds—the Chapters now have more to offer. The benefits of the SCA unification are beginning to filter into the Chapters, bringing more opportunities for members to participate in.
Through our global community, committees are now traveling more to other Chapters, through judging, exhibiting, or supporting these events. They are networking and seeing for themselves the new and different activities or opportunities that they can bring back to their members.
Chapters are constantly looking for inspiration and finding ways to be more resourceful and creative for their communities. The energy and enthusiasm of the national committee is the force that brings all of the coffee professionals in a Chapter together.
WHAT DOES THE COMMUNITY MEAN TO THE CHAPTERS?
Often the formation of a new Chapter begins with a simple query: “How do we from a Chapter?” From that query, a conversation starts with members in that country, bringing them together at the very foundation of the Chapter. Other times it is driven out of a desire to send a representative from their community to compete at the World Championships, where they can become a part of our global coffee community. The community creates the Chapter and therefore this is just the beginning of building an active community.
The committees are often formed by members that are committed to making a difference, which is often from their own experience in a Chapter—so there is real understanding of the needs of the community. A Chapter does not function without a community, and only through the involvement of its members can the Chapter truly realises their potential. I know from my own experience in the Irish Chapter that we are all linked, be it through social media or by visiting local coffee shops. It’s a network where not everyone is in the exact same profession in coffee, and are sometimes competitors in business, but I often wonder if we are somewhat unique as an industry in that even though we are not exactly colleagues, we are all friends through coffee—brought together and united as a community by our shared love for coffee.
Jackie Malone is the Senior Community Manager — Europe for the Specialty Coffee Association.