Say goodbye to mediocre coffee and hello to coffee perfection with the ultimate SCA-certified coffee makers!
Say goodbye to mediocre coffee and hello to coffee perfection with the ultimate SCA-certified coffee makers!
To achieve the perfect morning brew, you’ll need a high-quality drip coffee machine. This in-home coffee brewer offers nuanced extraction, water temperature control and precision brewing. This is the key to great-tasting coffee every time.
SCAA-certified coffee makers can offer you this perfect functionality. The coffee industry’s leading trade organization, the Specialty Coffee Association, has approved them for use at home.
Thanks to rigorous testing, these drip coffee makers offer reliability and durability as standard. And this means a delicious coffee experience daily.
Today, I’ll explore the best coffee makers in the market, certified by the SCA. I’ll break down their design, functionality, durability and other useful features.
Join me as we explore these outstanding beauties!
Table of Contents
- What Is the SCA?
- What Makes a Coffee Maker Golden Cup Certified?So, What’s the Deal with a Golden Cup Certified Coffee Maker?
- The Top 5 SCA Approved Coffee MakersRatio Six Coffee MakerTechnivorm MoccamasterBreville Precision BrewerNinja CM401OXO 9 Cup Coffee Maker
- How to ChooseBudgetSize and DesignBrewing CapacityCarafeSpecial Features
- Decision Time
Best SCA Certified Coffee Makers at a Glance
Here’s a quick look at the best SCA approved coffee makers I’ll be discussing today:
What Is the SCA?
I’ve mentioned SCA-certified coffee makers, but, what the heck is the SCA?
The SCA is the world’s leading trade organization for the coffee industry. Formed in 1982, it was initially known as the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). In 2017, the SCAA merged with the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) to form the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).
So why the name? It’s all in the coffee! Any coffee that rates between 80 and 100 on a specified 100-point scale qualifies as specialty coffee. This quality coffee grows in rich soils at higher altitudes with cooler temperatures (Strictly Hard Grown or Strictly Hard Bean).
As a result, these coffees have nuanced, unique flavors from slow growth and development. Producers sell them at a premium to roasters or dealers after harvesting and coffee processing.
The Specialty Coffee Association oversees this industry, giving expert guidance on maintaining coffee standards. This coffee trade organization now has over 10,000 members worldwide. Baristas, roasters, producers and other coffee professionals make up the membership from more than 40 countries.
These members enjoy specialist coffee industry services, including enhanced marketing, networking and access to a community passionate about coffee. SCA members can choose from Individual or Company memberships.
What Makes a Coffee Maker Golden Cup Certified?
Before we look at what makes a drip coffee maker Golden Cup-certified, I’ll need to expound on what this certification means. Understanding this certification will help you understand why so few coffee makers meet the standards to brew coffee this way.
According to the SCA, Golden Cup standard coffee should meet the four T’s of brewing:
Consistent brewing temperature of between 196 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (91-96 degrees Celsius).
An ideal total dissolution solids percentage (TDS percentage) of 18-22 percent.
The perfect turbulence to ensure even saturation as water moves through ground coffee during the brewing process.
The ideal saturation time to ensure optimal extraction.
TDS percentage describes the amount of dissolved and undissolved substances in water. In short, it translates to a brew strength of 11.5 to 13.5 grams of coffee per liter of water or 1.15 to 1.35 percent on the SCA Control Brewing Chart.
In addition, the brewing water for great coffee must be clean, odor-free and contain absolutely no chlorine. Coffee brewing water should also have an optimal brewing temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93.3 degrees Celsius) and an optimal pH level of 7.
To achieve the best coffee flavor, this water should also be “soft,” containing no more than:
150 milligrams/liter (150 ppm) of hardness (calcium carbonate content)
40 milligrams/liter (40 ppm) of alkalinity
10 milligrams/liter (10 ppm) of sodium
I know what you’re thinking: “That’s some pretty special water!” The good news is good ol’ filtered water meets all these standards.
Another factor to consider is the coffee to water ratio. It should be approximately 8.25 grams to 150 milliliters of water with a brew time of between four and six minutes to yield a high-quality cup of joe.
So, What’s the Deal with a Golden Cup Certified Coffee Maker?
Golden Cup SCA-certified coffee makers must brew high-quality coffee in adherence with the SCA’s strict standards. This is the ultimate measure for brewed coffee quality. These specifications come from years of coffee knowledge, research and rigorous testing by the SCA’s Coffee Brewing Center.
The Specialty Coffee Association reserves Golden Cup Certification only for a few automatic coffee makers on the market. Plus, an SCA-certified home brewer should brew a consistent cup that meets SCA Golden Cup recommendations every time.
These coffee brewer standards highlight a coffee maker’s ability to brew coffee at the proper water temperature and within the proper brewing time.
The Top 5 SCA Approved Coffee Makers
Now it’s time to take a look at the best SCAA-certified coffee machines, all of which meet the standards I just mentioned. These coffee makers have passed all the tests that qualify them as SCAA-approved precision brewers. They will consistently brew excellent coffee every time you use them.
Ratio Six Coffee Maker
- Automated pre-infusion function
- Advanced shower head
- Easy to use
- Double-walled, stainless steel thermal carafe
- Limited programmability
- Awkward filter basket attachment
At $295.00, the Ratio Six Coffee Maker won’t win any prizes for affordability, but it scores big on aesthetics and functionality.
This SCA coffee maker comes in three colors: Matte Black, Brushed Stainless Steel and White. I, rather excitedly, tested the white version.
In terms of brewing, the water tank is a decent 44 ounces (1.3 liters). Plus, the Ratio Six has a multi-stream shower head that provides a wide reach, ensuring an even saturation of your ground coffee.
At the same time, the heat shield keeps your coffee at the SCA-recommended temperature throughout the brewing process. Besides, the stainless steel carafe will keep your coffee reassuringly warm.
Although this is one of the more expensive SCA-certified coffee makers, the two-tone function justifies the price. It will give you the superior flavor of a pour-over coffee with the convenience of an automatic drip coffee maker. As such, if you’re into single-origin coffees, this is the brewer to highlight the unique and nuanced flavors of your beans.
Keeping this batch brewer clean is a breeze. Hand-washing is the recommended option and a once-a-month descaling needed.
The only drawback that stood out was the lack of programmability for the price. If you need a quick morning cup of coffee (in smaller quantities), this isn’t the appliance for you. Still, if it fits your price point, I’d recommend bagging this beauty!
See Also: Ratio Six Coffee Maker Review 2023
- Excellent build quality
- 5-year warranty and free lifetime repairs
- Iconic, timeless design
- Unique copper heating system
- Not ideal for brewing smaller quantities of coffee
- Quite pricey
The Technivorm Moccamaster KBGV Select is truly one of my fave SCA-certified coffee makers. I recently got my hands on a red-hot model with glass carafe for $359.00. It has a unique aesthetic, reliable functionality and enduring durability.
As it happens, all Technivorm coffee makers are certified by the SCA Home Brewing Program. They also have full European Coffee Brewing Center approval. The KBGV Select is no exception, one of twelve from the Dutch brand that meets these standards. Plus, its reassuring 5-year warranty and lifetime repairs also justify its hefty price tag.
Boasting a high-quality metallic shower head, it offers a consistent pour and even saturation of your coffee grounds. You’re certainly guaranteed a velvety-rich aromatic cup of coffee with this feature!
The consistent brew temperature and short brew time guarantee you hit Golden Cup coffee standards with every brew cycle. In addition, the 100-minute auto shut-off function gives you peace of mind if you leave the house in a hurry.
Now, to the drawbacks. Although I found this coffee machine low on convenience features, I’d still recommend it. For example, while you may not be able to brew a single cup, the lever on the brew basket allows you to select half-carafe or full-carafe brewing options.
Speaking of carafes, I’m not too crazy about the glass carafe and would have preferred a stainless steel one. There’s a hot plate that keeps your fresh coffee hot, but keep your brew on it for too long, and you risk a bitter-tasting cup of joe.
All in all, the Moccamaster KBGV Select is one of my best picks for SCAA-certified coffee makers. A decent coffee appliance with a proven history of performance and a to-die-for aesthetic!
See Also: Technivorm Moccamaster Review 2023
Breville Precision Brewer
- PID for easy temperature control and precision brewing
- Wide range of brewing options
- Scheduled timer and auto-brew function
- High-quality build
- Some functions feel unnecessary
Breville is aquality brand name in the coffee world, and they live up to the hype with the Breville Precision Brewer. Costing $329.95, this is a well-designed machine, measuring 12 inches in height. In other words, it’ll be fine for most kitchen countertops.
Top among its features is not only the ability to brew single and multiple servings but also its six preset brewing options. These allowed me to prepare the perfect cup of craft filter coffee every time. The brewing options range from iced coffee and cold brew to My Brew, Strong, Fast and Golden Cup standard.
The Precision Brewer can make superior cold brew batches of up to 20 ounces (591 milliliters), which stood out for me. I could set the time I wanted my coarse coffee grounds to steep. The results were delicious, and I appreciated the auto-brewing process.
Also, an LCD that’s easy on the eyes and a trio of buttons make operating this beauty as easy as 1-2-3. The “auto start” button brews coffee at a preprogrammed time, making quick morning coffees a no-fuss process.
The 60-ounce (1.8-liter) non-removable reservoir is one aspect of this SCA coffee maker that I wasn’t too thrilled about. I’m quite used to using a removable water tank when making my brew to fill it right on the countertop or kitchen sink. But with this coffee machine, I ultimately had to add water to the reservoir with the machine’s thermal carafe.
See Also: Breville Precision Brewer Review 2023
- Multiple brew styles
- The only drip coffee maker on the market with a fold-away milk frother
- Removable water reservoir for easy filling
- Great value
- Plastic construction
- Frother doesn’t heat milk
Ninja is as Ninja does and the Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker CM401 definitely lives up to its name. At just $161.67, this SCA-approved coffee maker has a permanent filter so you won’t need to buy coffee filters. The reusable filter is also conveniently dishwasher-safe.
There are two choices for brew strength: “Classic” and “Rich.” Oh, and you can make hot coffee over ice without worrying about diluting the results with the “Over Ice” setting. Additionally, the “Specialty” setting produces concentrated coffee for cappuccinos americanos and lattes.
You also have a range of brew sizes to choose from with this beauty. And I shouldn’t forget to point out the built-in milk frother.
Disappointingly, there are no brew-strength options for iced coffee with this SCA-certified coffee maker. Also, the specialty drinks come in a single 4-ounce serving only. Nevertheless, for a machine as affordable as this, the Ninja Specialty offers decent versatility.
You should also note this coffee machine’s glass and not stainless steel thermal carafe. Its hot plate regulates the temperature based on the brewed coffee amount. You can program the warming plate to remain on for four hours. Alternatively, adjust the warming plate’s temperature with the “Stay Warm” button.
Another notable convenience feature is the “Delay Brew” button for mornings when you want to wake up to a fresh-brewed cup of coffee.
A notable disadvantage is this machine’s buttons being flush with the control panel. This is only a problem if you want to reset the clock, as the design doesn’t encourage pressing the same button repeatedly.
Still, this is a small complaint. You’ll only need to adjust the time once you’ve plugged in the coffee maker and only once more if you wish to use the “Delay Brew” function.
See Also: Ninja CM401 Review 2023
OXO 9 Cup Coffee Maker
- Simple, intuitive user interface
- Awesome stainless steel thermal carafe
- Easy to clean
- Minimalist design
- Rather tall
- Not inexpensive
Sometimes less is more, and the OXO 9 Cup Coffee Maker certainly channels this mantra.
I’ll openly admit to having fallen in love with this coffee maker during my testing. All I needed to do was insert the conical brew basket, fasten the silicon mixing tube through the brew-though carafe top and fill the water reservoir.
Don’t let the simplicity fool you, though! This beauty makes great coffee consistently, despite its modest looks. And that’s what helped it make the SCAA-approved coffee makers list. It heats water to the required brew temperature and its rainwater shower head guarantees even saturation.
Another feature I love is the stylish stainless steel carafe. This thermal carafe maintains the temperature of your fresh-brewed coffee for hours. I also liked the 60-minute freshness feature on the digital display, which tells you how long it’s been since you brewed your pot. That goes for the 90-brew auto-descale reminder, too.
I can only think of two drawbacks with this SCA-certified coffee maker: its height and $183.95 asking price.
The OXO 9-Cup stands at a towering 17.2 inches (43.7 centimeters). That means kitchen countertops with wall-mounted cabinets may not be the best place to situate this appliance.
The two-year OXO warranty more than makes up for any flaws, though. This SCA-certified coffee maker will pay off in the future with hundreds of delicious cups of java!
See Also: OXO 9 Cup Coffee Maker Review 2023
How to Choose an SCA Coffee Maker
Choosing an in-home brewer can be overwhelming for coffee lovers, given the range of choice available. Still, checking out SCA-certified coffee makers is a good place to start!
Due to the Specialty Coffee Association’s strict guidelines, only a few drip coffee makers meet the standards to give you great coffee every time.
And while the models and brands available are many, certain guidelines have helped me pick the right drip coffee maker in the past.
As with any home appliance purchase, budget is a major consideration.
While it may be tempting to choose a more affordable (read cheaper) SCA-certified brewer or other coffee maker, it’s important to do so without sacrificing quality and functionality.
It also doesn’t make sense to pick a more high-end, expensive in-home coffee maker with myriad features you won’t use!
So take the time to look at what SCA-certified home brewer you can afford. Look at a coffee machine’s design and features and pick the model that offers the best value for money.
Size and Design
While you may fall in love with a specific brand of coffee brewer because of how swanky it looks, it’ll all be in vain if it can’t fit on your kitchen countertop.
Make sure that you double-check your potential coffee maker’s size, especially its height. The right height ensures your coffee machine will fit between your wall-mounted kitchen cupboards and countertop.
That said, it won’t be much fun choosing a coffee maker that doesn’t deliver on design and functionality. And this is very much a personal decision.
Ask yourself some simple questions to help you choose. Do you prefer a sleeker, simpler design that gets straight to the point with one-touch brewing? Or would you prefer an SCA coffee maker with all the bells and whistles; a statement piece, so to speak?
Your choice of SCA-certified coffee machine will come down to your coffee personality. In a nutshell, this means how you like to brew your coffee and how many people you’ll be brewing for daily.
Do you live alone, or are you a part of a large family? The answer to this question points to your potential coffee maker’s brewing capacity.
If you live alone, there’s no need to invest in a large-capacity coffee machine. Choose from pint-sized options that let you brew coffee with superior extraction quality while selecting between single-cup or half-pot brewing.
If you have a large family, ensure that your choice of SCA-certified coffee machine can make enough good coffee to meet all your daily java needs.
Eight-cup coffee machines are very popular with most coffee consumers in North America. Still, many of the SCA-certified coffee makers I’ve reviewed can produce 10 or even 12 cups.
No matter how delicious your brew is, if it cools down too quickly after brewing, you won’t enjoy it as much. Good quality drip coffee makers must have a thermal carafe that keeps fresh-brewed coffee hot for at least 30 minutes and up to four hours. In fact, this is a rule for SCA-certified coffee makers.
Also, a good thermal carafe should keep coffee at a constant temperature after brewing. Your decision now rests on whether you choose a stainless steel thermal or glass carafe to enable you to keep your brewed coffee warm.
Sure, a stainless steel thermal carafe is more expensive. However, it lets you keep coffee warm for longer without sacrificing cup quality and flavor. On the other hand, a glass carafe may provide a more affordable option, but it will only keep your coffee warm for 30 minutes at the most.
Furthermore, the longer glass carafes stay in contact with the coffee maker’s hot plate, the more you risk “stewing” your coffee. This means suffering through a bitter, off-tasting brew.
Ultimately, you should only choose an SCA coffee maker with a glass carafe if you intend to drink your coffee hot immediately after brewing. Also, note that some glass carafes may not win points for durability as they may not be dishwasher-safe!
Finally, you should consider the range of special features SCA-certified home brewers can offer. This is important, especially if you value high-end functions and convenience.
Features like pre-infusion functions, temperature controls, schedule-ahead auto-brew times and post-brew time displays make brewing your morning coffee that much easier.
These special features may tempt you into making an overly exciting purchase, rather like buying a new Ferrari! But it’s important to note that a fully loaded machine will come with a hefty price tag, so be ready to shell out for more sophisticated SCA-certified coffee makers.
At the end of the day, look for the features and functions you want (and need) in a SCAA coffee maker. Focus on these over unnecessary fluff before making a final decision.
And so, to the most important part of this review: decision time!
I can highly recommend all the models featured as my best picks for SCA-certified coffee makers.
That said, your choice of in-home drip coffee maker will depend on your personal circumstances. This applies whether you opt for a reliable, budget-friendly precision brewer or a sleeker, high-end model. By considering your preferences, budget and needs, you’re well on your way to picking the best coffee maker to kick-start your mornings.
And now it’s up to you! I hope this in-depth guide has made it easier for you to choose an SCA-certified coffee maker. Happy brewing!
What do you think of my top 5 SCA-certified brewer picks? Is there another SCA drip coffee maker you feel I should have included? Please comment below as I’d love to hear about your brewing experiences!