SCASA. You’ve heard the name, but what is it all about? Udo Klotz, chairman of the organisation gave me the lowdown. This is what he had to say.
In 2006, the idea arose that South Africa would need an association to represent its growing coffee industry. A year later, SCASA, which is short for ‘Speciality Coffee Association of Southern Africa’, was founded. In the same year the first Barista Championship was held at the Good Food and Wine Show with the winner, Willem Pienaar, traveling to Tokyo to represent South Africa.
From there, we grew from strength to strength, and today the association has about 80% of those involved in the industry as members. Our main aim is to make the coffee industry body strong and to represent the industry as a whole.
The coffee industry is enormous. It is the largest commodity traded after oil. Most people don’t realise this. All the Arabica is traded in New York and the Robusta in London. If you look at the chef industry, twenty years ago, they were just chefs. Nobody really bothered about a chef or the cooking until it became a commodity and we had celebrity chefs. Suddenly BBC food is the fastest growing channel in the world and in every bookstore we visit, we are falling over cookbooks. It can be the same with the coffee industry as long as we start getting the exposure and we realise this, especially in South Africa, where the coffee industry is growing. In Europe, it is a lot more sophisticated but here it is exciting and young.
With this (the Barista Champs), what we really try to do is to give young people, or older people, the opportunity to do something with pride. It is a profession that has to be done with passion and has to be done with an understanding, and that is what people learn through this experience.
Visit www.scasa.co.za to become a member.