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The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is a respected body in the world of high-end coffee. They have a bunch of programs and events, as well as leading research in the field, setting the gold standard of how coffee should be.
If you love coffee and in the market for a good, quality coffee maker, it’s extremely good news that the association has a list of certified home brewers. These coffee machines have gone through a highly-qualified vetting process, so you can be sure they’re only the finest.
Gone are the days of bland, watered-down coffee. Hello to rich, smooth, high-quality brews.
In this article, we touch on the SCAA and their certification process, how you should pick and shop for the right brewer for yourself, and our list of the best SCAA-certified coffee makers, in our opinion. Let’s dive in.
If you’re looking for what is, in our opinion, the best SCAA-certified coffee maker, the Technivorm Moccamaster KBGT is our pick.
At almost half the price, the Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker CM407 is a great alternative. It has a built-in frother, albeit losing quick brewing capabilities.
For a value pick, the OXO Brew is one worth looking into. It offers great features at a highly affordable price, but does have its set of caveats.
Table of Contents
What Is the SCAA?
You probably already know if you’ve landed on this article on SCAA-certified coffee makers, but in case you don’t, the Specialty Coffee Association of America is a non-profit organization that is pretty much the leader in specialty coffee.
Being an influential body, they have involvement and representation in almost every part along the coffee pipeline. From coffee bean producers, to roasters, all the way to trade and retail. Because of their heavy involvement and leadership in this industry, the association has also, both knowingly and unknowingly, set quite a few golden standards for specialty coffee.
SCAA offers prestigious courses and programs under their belt. They have several barista programs, environmental programs on coffee, even coffee machine technician programs. The association regularly holds events around the globe, and has done several research that contributes positively to the industry. They have set standards, protocols and best practices on coffee-brewing, and yep, have their own list of certified home brewers.
Since early 2017, what was known as the SCAA has actually merged with another related body, the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe, into a unified organization, presently known as simply the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).
All About the SCAA Certification Process
The certification process to get into SCAA’s list of certified brewers (https://sca.coffee/certified-home-brewer) is lengthy and rigorous. This ensures only the highest-quality coffee machines make it into the list. We won’t cover the full process here, just a gist of it so you know that it’s the real deal. If you’re not interested in knowing how the process goes, feel free to skip this part.
Without going too much into the detailed specifications, a coffee maker has a few of its qualities tested before being considered to be put on the list. Among these are coffee volume, brewing time and temperature, uniformity of performance and extraction, even the quality of operating manuals.
During testing, everything else other than the coffee maker itself is kept constant. This includes the type of coffee and its roast, the batch size, the grind, water supply, coffee to water ratio etc. This ensures fair and objective certification.
Other than that, manufacturers are also required to ship several of their models to SCAA, for them to check on consistency. This indirectly ensures a decent level of quality control and assurance on the manufacturers’ ends.
Sounds tough? That’s because it is! Hundreds of models have been sent to SCAA for approval and certification, but only a handful get through the process. Picking from the ones that do get through pretty much guarantees a good experience.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Look For in SCAA-Certified Coffee Makers
SCAA-certified coffee makers are just like any other coffee maker. But, as the association has basically verified all coffee-making capabilities of these machines, your part to fulfill is to look out for the usability and construction qualities of these models.
Here are a few things to take note of:
A certified coffee maker doesn’t come cheap, so it’s important to know that they’ll last.
Apart from just its appearance, the quality of construction materials of a coffee machine is also important to pay attention to. Whenever possible, check the material make-up of a brewer, whether it is fully stainless steel, partly plastic and so on.
Checking long-term reviews is also a great way to gauge the longevity of a model!
Pretty self-explanatory, but the size of a model should be checked prior to purchasing. This is to ensure that it’ll fit under your cabinet, or wherever you plan to place it. A coffee maker that is, say, 56oz, might be sized very differently than another 56oz one.
Since the coffee maker is most likely an appliance with daily usage, convenience is important. To squeeze some more usability or practicality out of it, be sure to look for a model with easy operation or value-added, practical features.
Some things to consider about – do you value quick brewing times, or do you want the ability to set a brew to automatically start at a certain time? If you often take the carafe out to pour mid-cycle, a model with pause-and-pour functionality would be useful as well.
Just a few points to think about. To identify your needs, simply think of typical scenarios where you would use the coffee maker, and how to make that process more effortless!
Versatility of controls
Some brewers offer only 2 temperature settings, some offer many more. On certain models, you’re only able to select between 2 coffee strengths, while others would let you pick between 3 or even 4.
Choosing a model with more versatility is always better, especially if you see it benefitting yourself.
Not all models are able to make single-serve coffee. In fact, only a handful are able to. If that’s important to you, make sure to look out for phrases like “single-serve”, “dual”, “cup”, just to name a few.
Our Picks of Best SCAA-Certified Coffee Makers
While SCAA doesn’t have a whole bunch of options on their list of certified home brewers, the existing ones are enough to give analysis paralysis to the average buyer, especially when it’s not a cheap purchase.
We’ve taken the time to filter out the top of the top, and present to you, in our opinion, the best SCAA-certified coffee makers.
There’s a reason why Technivorm models take up almost half of SCAA’s certified home brewers’ list. They’re at a level of premium that no other home coffee makers can match, and they pair the high price tag with quality build.
Before anything else, we just love the look. It has a hint of industrial features, and with the stone gray finish, looks stunning on the countertop. However, looks are subjective, so let’s move onto something more objective.
Operation-wise, there are a lot of details put into designing the model. Using it is easy, with one-touch operations. Brewing is super quick, and can be done in 5-6 minutes for a full 40oz carafe of coffee.
The coffee maker also comes with a variety of additional features. The automatic drip-stop brew-basket design will stop the flow of coffee, as soon as you take the carafe away. It also automatically turns off when brewing is done, or when the water reservoir is empty, to prevent damaging the copper element.
How does coffee taste, though? Amazing. Smooth, rich, and with little to no bitterness, you enjoy every sip from start to finish. The coffee is evenly saturated from the 9-hole outlet arm of the machine which makes it even better.
Even with all these good things about this coffee maker, there’s a caveat though. The plastic parts of this unit feel flimsy, not matching the premium price tag at all. We haven’t actually broken anything and not sure if they’re easily breakable, but with the price you’re paying, this definitely feels like the manufacturers might have cheaped out a little too much!
Psst. If you prefer glass carafes, Technivorm has the exact same model but only with the thermal carafe replaced with a glass one, the Technivorm KBG.
- Easy to use with one-button operation
- Quick brewing times – around 5 minutes for a full 40oz carafe
- Automatically pauses drip if carafe is removed
- Classy appearance on the countertop
- Auto-off when brewing is done
- 9-hole outlet arm for even extraction of coffee
- Plastic parts feel less premium than desired
- Rather small capacity
For the runner-up in a list of best SCAA-certified coffee makers, this Ninja-made model is on the end of being really affordable! From our testing, we just couldn’t believe how a machine priced this low can prove to be one of the best models among fierce competition, even coming out on top (almost).
This coffee maker uses Ninja’s Thermal Flavor Extraction Technology to produce high quality results, no matter the amount you’re brewing. The company promises even saturation, consistent temperature and quality coffee blooming with their coffee machine.
In terms of brewing options, there is no shortage with this coffee maker. You’re able to make both single-serve and full carafe worth of coffee. It also allows you to precisely control the brew size, and has 6 at your disposal. The model offers 4 brew styles: classic, rich, over ice, and specialty – allowing you to brew coffeehouse drinks effortlessly.
To further add value to its headline-grabbing feature of making specialty brews, the model also includes a fold-away frother. With this, you’re able to conveniently turn hot or cold milk into froth, right then and there using your coffee maker.
If there’s one thing to complain about this coffee maker from Ninja, is its footprint. While only making 50oz of coffee, the housing and space it takes up on the countertop is quite large. Other than that though, not much to complain about all around.
- Capable of 6 brew sizes – from a single cup to full carafes
- Has 4 brew styles: classic, rich, over ice, and specialty
- Easily brew coffeehouse drinks e.g. lattes, cappuccinos, etc.
- Includes fold-away frother
- Occupies quite a lot of countertop space
While SCAA-certified coffee makers don’t go for cheap (understandably so), this model from OXO is about as low as you can get for something approved by the prestigious coffee association.
Even though this isn’t as affordable as many would like a coffee maker to be, the fact that it manages to deliver near-coffee-bar quality at this price is impressive. While it’s not comparable to the highest of ranks that mostly Technivorm holds, it has its own set of features absent elsewhere.
Before anything though, we just had to talk about the design. It’s clean and minimalistic, which blends into your countertop effortlessly. My favorite part about the design is how congruent the entire unit looks, especially with the same finishing across every surface of the machine, including the carafe. And it’s not just looks, as the unit is also compact and fits under pretty much every cabinet. The carafe included is also high-quality, sporting a double-wall design.
Moving on from the design, this coffee maker from OXO is able to brew for both carafes and single-serve cups. The manufacturer has included a brew basket to allow for the single-serve brewing capability. Something we’ve noticed though is that a small amount of water collects in the filter keeper, which you might have to clean it out every so often.
In this model you’ll find controls for water temperature, as well as brewing cycles to fit your exact needs. While the functions are pretty standard and useful, we’ve seen multiple reviews online that criticize the water temperature. Curiously though, some complain that the water comes out too hot, while others, the opposite. This reeks of quality control issues.
- Minimalistic, clean-looking compact design
- Single-serve brewing capability with included brew basket
- Controls for water temperature and brewing cycles
- Double-wall thermal carafe with brew-through lid
- Has a cleaning mode
- Reviewers complain of water temperature in different ways – hinting quality control issues
- Water tends to collect in the filter housing
- Measurement of cups a little off
Just when you thought it couldn’t get cheaper, Brim dropped a bomb with their pour over coffee maker. It’s priced even lower than the OXO, although there’s also been a slight drop in quality. Well, you get what you pay for.
First off, let’s talk about the good. If you’re a fan of pour-over coffee brewing, but don’t have the time to do it manually, this is one of the only SCAA-certified models that do automatic pour-over brewing. Because of the turbulence (if you don’t know what that is, make sure to read all about turbulence and blooming in coffee-making – https://foodal.com/drinks-2/coffee/guides-coffee/what-is-bloom/) you get from pour-over, the coffee comes out slightly smoother as well.
To further complement the pour-over style of brewing, the shower head utilizes pulse brewing, in order to achieve coffee blooming. Fancy, yes, but we’ve also noticed that the spraying of water from the shower head isn’t as even as we’d have liked, so that takes some points away as well.
To use the coffee machine, you won’t need filters of your own, as the purchase comes with a permanent metal filter. Depending on your preferences, you might like it, or not, as metal filters are admittedly more difficult to clean. The model keeps your coffee warm by a heating plate, and has auto shut-off functionality that kicks in at 30 minutes. Be warned though, the heating plate cannot be turned off, and from our experience it emits a slight plastic/burnt smell during the first few days’ of use.
Before ending this, there’s just one thing to be brought up. We just absolutely love the satin copper color option – looks really chic and in style on the countertop!
- Pour-over brewing design in an automatic machine
- Auto shut-off functionality
- Shower head utilizes pulse brewing for great bloom
- Includes permanent metal filter
- No option to turn off heating plate
- Spouts on shower head do not spray water evenly
- Plastic smell especially from heating plate during early use
At 60oz, while this coffee brewer from Breville isn’t larger than the biggest coffee makers on our list, it is definitely the best one among the bunch.
This model allows you to make a single-serve cup or a carafe worth of coffee, and includes two different brew baskets for that purpose. While this feature exists in several of SCAA’s certified coffee makers, this one from Breville has something extra. The model comes with a patent-pending design that holds water in contact with your coffee, when small-cup volumes are being brewed without the carafe in place.
Operating it is also really pleasant. It has a digital screen with a control knob that allows you to pick from a variety of presets. The presets include Gold (based on SCAA standards), Fast, Strong, Iced, Cold Brew, or even a custom My Brew, which allows you to save settings like bloom time, brewing temperature and flow rate. I personally enjoy the digital controls, but do note that the words on the screen are a little small!
While we’ve enjoyed using this coffee maker a lot, the one thing that sets us off is the included carafe. It has no issues with keeping the coffee warm, but it is prone to dripping coffee. In fact, it does that often enough to annoy! If you get past this fact though, this model is a really solid option.
- Patent-pending innovation that holds water in contact with coffee during small volume brewing without the carafe
- Specific preset for settings adhering to SCAA-set standards
- Includes two brew baskets – flat bottom and cone
- Precise digital controls allow you to set temperature, flow rate, and contact time
- Thermocoil heating system delivers pure water
- Carafe quality lacking – drips easier than usual
- Demands cleaning rather often
While this is not the highest-quality or most affordable coffee maker from the SCAA-certified list, it offers something not many models have – programmability. Cuisinart has decided to include a convenient 24-hour delay timer with auto-start and auto-off functionalities. This lets you set a brew one day ahead of time.
It has 3 coffee strength controls, 2 temperature controls, and a large capacity 64oz carafe. That’s everything to get a solid coffee maker going, but there’s more. It also includes self-cleaning functionalities – which saves you some routine work down the road – and also multiple filters including a charcoal one for water, a stainless steel one, and multiple paper filters.
Apart from the basic features, it also comes with something that is found in fancier models – a brew-pause functionality. With this feature, the coffee maker lets you take the carafe away mid-cycle – without dripping – and simply place it back to continue the process. Tiny feature, but really useful!
There’s something to note though. From what we’ve tested, coffee brewed using this just doesn’t taste as rich as the other models provide. There’s a slight hint of sourness and bitterness, which we think comes from the water temperature not being as precise throughout the entire brewing cycle.
- Strength control – mild, medium or bold
- Temperature control – hot, or extra hot
- Large capacity carafe
- 24-hour delay timer
- Brew-pause allows to pour before a cycle is complete
- Self-cleaning functionality
- Includes charcoal water filter, stainless steel filter and paper filters
- Water temperature not as precise as higher-end models
How to Pick for Your Use Case?
Still confused after reading through the reviews? Most of them have more pros than cons so we don’t blame you. Here’s how you would choose the right model for your exact use case.
Firstly, make sure specialty coffee is for you. We know you’re on this page for good reason, but if you’re not an avid coffee lover that cares about every fine detail of coffee-making, there are good coffee makers out there for cheaper prices. We’re a fan of Ninja’s models, and have compiled our own list of the best coffee makers by them.
Let’s get back to our list. If budget is not a concern for you, we recommend the Technivorm Moccamaster KBGT coffee brewer, or the Moccamaster KBG if you prefer glass carafes over thermal ones. It really is the highest quality one from the certified list – at least from our experience. However, there are a few reasons why you might want to choose some other model instead. If you:
- need to budget, the OXO Brew or the Brim coffee maker are equally good choices. Pick the OXO if you need single-serve brewing capabilities, or the Brim if you’re looking for a pour-over design for coffee blooming.
- need a built-in frother, pick the Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker. This allows you to make creamy coffeehouse styled drinks e.g. cappuccino, latte etc.
- want a reliable, large-sized coffee maker, the Breville Precision Brewer might be for you. Although it isn’t the largest of them all, it is certainly the most well-built.
- need to set a brew timer into the future, pick the Cuisinart CPO-850. This model has a 24-hour delay timer, which means your coffee could start making itself before your morning alarm even rings.
Are SCAA-Certified Coffee Makers Really Better?
The answer to this question is: almost certainly. The certification process is strict, allowing only the best to pass through. However, this also depends on what your exact definition of “better” is, and what you’re comparing to.
Note that SCAA is primarily an association that guarantees the quality of coffee. Because of this, a large part of their certification process focuses on the level of coffee quality a brewer makes. Areas like user experience, usability, and longevity of the machines do not contribute much – if at all – to the certification process.
SCAA-certified home brewers are almost definitely more expensive though. Apart from putting the money into making high-quality products, manufacturers also have to factor in the cost of certification, which does not come cheap. This cost eventually gets passed onto the product shelf price as well.
In a way, you’re paying a small amount for the approval of a recognized body in the world of specialty coffee to assure a coffee maker’s quality. While it does add onto the price tag a little, it’s pretty worth the confidence if you ask me.
A quality cup of coffee instantly lifts my mood, anytime of the day, any day of the week. This is why for me personally, investing in a good coffee maker is every penny well spent.
If you’re looking for the best, widely-recognized home brewer and do not want to search high and low for it, the SCAA certified home brewers list is the best place to start. Every coffee machine has gone through a rigorous screening process, in order to sit among the ranks.
Once your shiny new coffee maker reaches your doorstep and you start using it, you’d be wondering how you survived all the while without it!
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