About the Program

The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Golden Cup Award is designed for coffee purveyors who have proven their ability to brew coffee to defined recommendations for quality and are devoted to maintaining this level of quality. The award is a testament to skill in preparation as well as equipment management, two important elements towards delivering a perfect cup. Ultimately the award is a signal of quality that can be proudly displayed to your customers.


The Coffee Brewing Center, during its decades of operation (1952-1975), conducted numerous research projects on all aspects of coffee brewing. Their most significant contribution to our current knowledge of coffee is that the vast majority of coffee drinkers prefer brewed coffee prepared from 3.25 - 4.25 ounces of coffee for each 64 fluid ounces of water. This ratio results in a coffee with 1.15% - 1.35% dissolved coffee solids. From these they established the Golden Cup Award. This award, once a staple promotion of the restaurant industry, has been revived as a distinguished accolade awarded by The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). It is based both on the SCAA essentials of good brewing and coffee brewing control chart. A full explanation of this chart is available in the SCAA Coffee Brewing Handbook. It is important that any establishment interested in the Golden Cup Award read and understand the fundamentals of this chart.

SCAA Brewing Essentials

The Golden Cup Award program is based on recommendations outlined in the SCAA Coffee Brewing Handbook, which defines six points of quality for brewed coffee. The Golden Cup Award utilizes four of those: (1) proper ratio of coffee to water, (2) proper grind, (3) proper equipment operation, and (4) good-quality water. Additionally, the Golden Cup Award includes the commitment to clean equipment.


In order to qualify for the Golden Cup Award, the coffee brewing formula must fall between 3.25 and 4.25 ounces in weight (92 grams and 120 grams, respectively) of coffee per 64 fluid ounces of water (1.9 L), resulting in a coffee strength between 1.15% to 1.35% dissolved coffee flavoring material.

Program Details

  • Any foodservice operation selling brewed coffee for public consumption is eligible to apply. Foodservice operations that are selling brewed coffee for public consumptions may purchase a membership on our website (www.scaa.org) to be eligible for the discounted application rate.
  • The award is valid for one year.
  • Applicants are required to undergo an on-site evaluation conducted by an SCAA Certified Brewing Technician.
  • Applicants must also submit a sample to the SCAA Headquarters in Santa Ana, CA for verification.
  • Online Submission Form, Application and sample submission instructions are required for the submission. The application is included in this document below.
  • Results are sent via email from our Technician. If the sample fails the test, the email will include recommendations for adjustment.
  • Samples that pass will automatically receive a Golden Cup Award Certificate via mail, specifying dates of award validity.

Sample Submission Instructions

  • Go to the SCAA online store and purchase a Golden Cup Testing Service Fee ($35)
  • Go to the SCAA website and fill out the online submission form for the Golden Cup Award to indicate when you will be submitting the coffee samples.
  • Submit at least 2 fluid ounces (60 ml) of prepared coffee in a clean, sealable container (food-grade plastic is suggested) to the address listed on the paper application. Containers may be obtained through the SCAA Resource Center at scaa.org in the store.
  • Submit at least 2 fluid ounces (60 ml) of brewing water.
  • Both samples should be submitted with this paper application as directed.
  • Results will be provided within three days of receipt of sample.