Learning to roast coffee is a continual process. New trends and changes to consumer preferences demand a constant reevaluation of expertise, while even the most experienced roasters are bound to have gaps in their skill set.
Online roasting courses are a flexible and comprehensive way of fine-tuning your abilities and revealing areas for improvement. They can help you break into the industry, overcome barriers to promotion, and even act as a jumping-off point for your own roasting business.
Typically under the guidance of a trained roaster, online courses tend to offer greater convenience than traditional roasting courses. For example, participants don’t have to worry about travel and, if the course is pre-recorded, they can dial in at a time that works for them.
Although being sat in front of a laptop won’t necessarily provide the “hands-on experience” of an in-person course, learning at a flexible speed can often lead to better results in the long run.
Here is our list of some of the best online coffee roasting courses available.
The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is the leading voice in the specialty sector, setting many of the industry-wide practices in use today.
The education arm of the SCA organises runs a number of internationally recognised certification programmes and training courses. Known as SCA Education, its roasting courses are available in a number of languages and are designed to help both aspiring and established roasters build a successful career in the coffee industry.
For beginners, the foundational course offers a steady introduction into the basics of roasting, including roast profiles, different machines, and first and second crack.
The course at an advanced level dives into more complex topics, such as control and colour matching within specified time limits, the use and configuration of roast profile software, and the molecules involved in browning reactions.
As the “industry standard”, enrolling on an SCA accredited course is a great option for those who want to start working for a roastery.
Indeed, many places demand SCA accreditations as a minimum requirement as they ensure roasters have the relevant skills and knowledge to work in a roasting setup.
Outside of roasting, the SCA offers a number of other courses that can help bolster the CV, including cupping, sustainability, and operations management courses.
If you’re looking for a deep dive into coffee roasting with all the trimmings, few offer better first-hand insight than Scott Rao’s Online Coffee Roasting Course.
Rao is a pioneer in his field, having worked in the coffee industry since the age of 22.
He keeps a popular blog on all things coffee and has written several books on topics ranging from green beans to the physics of filter coffee. His book The Coffee Roaster’s Companion is referred to in some circles as the “bible of roasting”.
In his online course, Rao offers an interactive video class and online coaching forum where you can meet other roasters and take part in high-level discussions on everything from software to roast curves.
While open to anyone, those with at least some prior roasting knowledge and experience is likely to benefit the most from this course. The online discussion forum in particular can help address specific roadblocks experienced during roasting.
Rao’s course is also a good choice for those who want to step up their roasting game in a collaborative setting where you put specific questions to other professionals.
You might recognise Ally Coffee as a leading specialty green coffee importer. However, they also offer a combination of online and in-person courses covering the business and practicalities of operating a roastery.
Ally Open understands that the successful roasting and selling of coffee involves more than the physical roasting process. While other educational platforms focus on the roasting process itself, this one offers detailed courses on topics such as roasting food safety and sampling, which apply real world challenges to the educational process.
Ally Open’s courses are ideal for anyone looking for a detailed introduction and education on operating a roastery. As the courses can integrate individual consulting sessions, it also equips those who want to put their newly acquired skills into practice.
Coffee Courses was founded a decade ago by coffee expert Willem Boot and coffeeis.me podcast host Valerian Hrala. It offers students a choice of 12 certified courses, consisting of more than 26 hours of content and 300 videos.
Unlike many other educational platforms, this website allows students to learn at their own pace, revisiting content as they see fit. You simply pay a single annual fee to gain access to all these courses, which you can access whenever and wherever you want.
This course is a great investment if you aren’t sure which aspect of roasting or coffee you’d like to focus on and don’t want to be committed to a deadline.
It’s also a good option if your schedule makes it challenging for you to attend live sessions. You also have the option to complete SCA certified courses and request one on one consulting, although these sessions might need to take place in person.
Long considered a leading source for specialty coffee knowledge, Perfect Daily Grind recently launched a range of certified, on demand e-learning courses under the name PDG Education.
Courses are usually one-off programmes covering specific topics and are provided by industry experts such as London’s Artisan Coffee School and supply chain expert Karl Weinhold.
This gives students access to courses crafted by those actively involved in what’s happening right now in specific areas.
PDG Education courses are short and accessible, but manage to cover a wide range of information. Each consists of modules and bite-sized videos, which culminate in a final exam. They are a great choice if there’s a specific aspect of roasting (or coffee in general) you’d like to sharpen your knowledge of.
The above list of courses can help you become a better roaster and deepen your knowledge on the specialty coffee supply chain.
However it’s important to remember that in operating a roastery you’ll need to educate yourself on other important aspects of running a roasting business. This can include managing your employees, promoting and selling your coffee and ensuring your coffee is well packaged.
MPTak Coffee offers roasters access to a free online Education Centre which features dozens of articles on a wide range of coffee roasting and packaging topics.
If you want to better understand the packaging options available to you or find one better suited to your needs, you can explore these articles.