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CAS in Coffee Excellence

Delve into the science of coffee. This online learning course takes you from crop to cup, exploring the scientific aspects of the whole production process, including a critical examination of the supply chain. Join our next cohort to deepen your knowledge, meet and interact with other coffee professionals, and grow your network.


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At a glance


Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Coffee Excellence (15 ECTS)





CHF 7'800.00

Comment on costs: 

The cost includes the tuition fees, application fee, course materials, virtual lessons, coffee samples for module assessment, exam payment and diploma certificate. The costs do not include any customs fees when sending the packages, coffee equipment and coffee for the practical exercises. 

Language of instruction:



Objectives and content

Target audience

This CAS addresses the following professionals:

  • Coffee professionals within the supply chain who want to pair their skills-based careers with a solid foundation in the applied science of coffee. This can include but is not be limited to: Producers, Roasters, Educators (e.g. ASTs), Café Owner or Managers, Sales and Marketing Professionals, Green Buyers or Coffee Quality Managers, Coffee Scientists and Researchers, and Sustainability Specialists.
  • Coffee Professionals at management level.
  • Coffee Professionals with a university degree and basic knowledge in coffee sensory evaluation.
  • Individuals with a university degree who are interested in transitioning from another career into the world of coffee.

What is CAS in Coffee Excellence?

The postgraduate CAS Certificate of Advanced Studies in Coffee Excellence is an online learning programme designed at the highest level of the coffee training path. Participants are offered a comprehensive science-based education on coffee along the whole value chain, through a flexible, remote learning course format.

The syllabus is meticulously crafted by our team of experienced coffee scientists, who guide you along the way via regular touchpoints through the program. This programme is informed directly by up-to-date research and provides new insights and perspectives on all aspects of coffee.


  • Acquire a comprehensive, in-depth knowledge of the science of coffee, from crop to cup.
  • Apply multidisciplinary scientific and practical knowledge of all processes involved in the coffee value chain.
  • Critical thinking skills to examine all aspects of coffee.
  • Integrate knowledge on selected coffee topics into professional contexts.
  • Enlarge your professional network and make contacts with experts in the coffee sector.
  • A diploma and module confirmation for professional use.


The course curriculum is divided into three distance-learning modules as follows:

Module A - The Coffee Fruit: From Tree to Trade

In this module, we will explore all aspects of the coffee cherry in origin countries; from its discovery to how different coffee species and varieties evolved worldwide. We will also consider important aspects of botany and the role of agronomic practices on the farm to improve yield and quality while developing strategies to combat pests and diseases. We will discuss harvesting as well as processing aspects until green coffee is obtained. Finally, we will take a look at the economics of coffee production, sustainability, the impact of climate change and different models of trade. 

  • Duration: 21 weeks
  • Workload: 125 hours
  • Academic credits: 5 ECTS*
  • Module facilitator: Dr. Sebastian Opitz

Module B - The Coffee Bean: Transformation and Composition

This module covers all aspects of physical transformation and chemical composition of the green coffee to the roasted bean, until extraction. We will investigate the many factors that have an impact on coffee freshness and the process behind decaffeination and soluble coffee. We will also look into the subject of coffee as it relates to health. 

  • Duration: 21 weeks
  • Workload: 125 hours
  • Academic credits: 5 ECTS*
  • Module facilitator: Dr. Samo Smrke

Module C - The Coffee Cup: Extraction and Sensory Evaluation

This module covers the complex dynamics of extraction and the vital role that water composition plays, as well as machine technologies from grinding to brewing as a means to influence the quality of the brew. We will also investigate the sensory world in coffee.

  • Duration: 21 weeks
  • Workload: 125 hours
  • Academic credits: 5 ECTS*
  • Module facilitator: Dr. Marco Wellinger

*ECTS = European Credit Transfer System. ECTS is a standardized and comparable student performance assessment system across Europe. One credit is awarded for a workload of 25 - 30 hours (contact time and self-study). More information is available here.

Other courses offered by the ZHAW Coffee Excellence Center


The course is delivered as a mix of interactive and self-study materials which include:

  • Online lectures and group discussions in virtual classrooms
  • Quizzes
  • Live-lab sessions
  • Practical exercises at home
  • Office hours with module tutors
  • Additional content for further reading.


Each module is structured into 6 sessions of self-study on the online learning platform Moodle, and will involve discussions with invited experts and fellow participants in the virtual classroom at the end of each session. The module will be completed by an assessment. Participants have 2-3 weeks’ time, to complete one learning session.

Each Module (21 weeks) is generally structured as follows: 

  • Introduction: 1 week 
  • Sessions 1 - 6: 15 weeks including Virtual Lab Sessions in Module B and C
  • Assessment: 3 weeks 
  • Closing / lecture-free time: 2 weeks (attendance of one Virtual Classroom Closing Session 1.5 hours) 


You will be required to complete 375 hours of study or 15 ECTS points over 15 months to gain your diploma. This corresponds to 6-9 hours per week, depending on your previous knowledge, spread over the 15 months period of the CAS programme.


Students will be assessed after each Module. In order to pass the module, students must complete and pass:

  • Practical Module Assessment. Students receive coffee samples from CEC and will conduct a sensory evaluation project
  • Final Module Exam: Multiple Choice Questions online test
  • Virtual Classrooms, Live-Lab-Sessions and Session Quizzes need to be attended and completed (at least 80%)

More details about the implementation

Course date 2024/25: 

30 September 2024 - 14 December 2025

Module A:

  • 30 September 2024 - 23 February 2025 (Virtual Classrooms every 2-3 weeks on Thursdays 15:00 p.m. CET, the Closing Online Classroom Session takes place on 6 March 2025)
  • Cost: CHF 2400.-

Module B:

  • 6 March 2025 - 27 July 2025 (Virtual Classrooms every 2 weeks on Thursdays 15:00 p.m. CET, the Closing Online Classroom Session takes place on 7 August 2025)
  • Cost: CHF 2400.-

Module C:

  • 4 August 2025 - 14 December 2025 (Virtual Classrooms every 2 weeks on Thursdays 15:00 p.m. CET, the Closing Online Classroom Session takes place on 8 January 2026)
  • Cost: CHF 2400.-

Enquiries and contact


Institute of Chemistry and Biotechnology


  • Dr. Sebastian Opitz
  • Dr. Samo Smrke
  • Dr. Marco Wellinger
  • Past courses have included such experts as: Aaron Davis, Gloria Pedroza, Inga Schaepfer, Christophe Montagnon, Roukiat Delrue, Mario Fernandez, Thomas Koziorowski, Morten Münchow, Alexis Rodriguez, etc.  

Course Coordination and Admin:

Offered in cooperation with

Research Partner: The Coffee Excellence Center joins forces with leaders and innovators of the industry to continuously improve the content and quality of the CAS in Coffee Excellence. Research-Partners are Sucafina SA, Sanremo Coffee Machines, BWT AG, Probat, HACO AG.

Cooperation Partner: The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) supports the dissemination, communication and networking (e.g. ALUMNI events) of the CAS program.


Admission requirements

a) Admission with a University Degree

  • Degree from a state-recognised university or previously recognised equivalent school. 
  • At least 2 years of professional experience in the coffee industry or related areas (food, hospitality management, etc.).
  • Good written and verbal communication skills in English.

b) Admission without a University Degree

  • Proof of a qualification in higher vocational education and training: BP professional examination (federal diploma), HFP higher professional examination or HF higher professional school. Other persons may be admitted if their qualification for participation is based on other evidence.
  • At least 3 years of professional experience in the coffee industry or related areas (food, hospitality management, etc.).
  • Good written and verbal communication skills in English.
  • Passing an admission interview.

Information for applicants

  • Participants register for the whole course.
  • This program requires a non-refundable registration fee of CHF 600.- which should be paid upon admission. 
  • At present we do not offer any scholarship programs.

Application process

  1. Online application: Complete the application form, upload the required supporting documents and submit it on time. 
  2. Confirmation: You will receive a confirmation of receipt by e-mail once you have submitted your online application.
  3. Application screening: If your application is complete and received by the deadline, it will be reviewed by the course management.
  4. Information about admission decision: Admission or rejection.
  5. Application fee: A non-refundable processing fee of CHF 600 is charged for the application. This fee is due only once your application is approved. Payment of the fee is only possible by credit card (Visa, MasterCard) or PostFinance Card.

Payment schedule

  1. Registration fee: CHF 600.- upon admission by credit card.
  2. Tuition fee for each module: CHF 2400.- The payment is due upon start of each module. Payment by credit card, invoice only by exception. A 10% early-bird discount if the total course fee is paid before 1 August 2024. A 5% discount is given, if total course fees are paid before the course start 30 Sept 2024.

Start Application deadline Registration link
30.09.2024 15.09.2024 Apply here

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