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US Coffee Championships, an update on the state of the 2020-2021 Seasons

US Coffee Championships

MILAN – The Competitions Committee of the SCA USA Chapter has issued an update on the planned approach to the upcoming US Coffee Championships seasons. “Like all coffee-related businesses and organizations, we face unprecedented challenges in the current pandemic,” says Nathanael May, US Competitions Coordinator.

“Based on the strong recommendations of medical experts and scientists, large events like our competitions have been canceled or put on indefinite hold.”

The 2020 season of the US Coffee Championships was partially completed in February, when winners of the US Barista Championship and US Brewers Cup were named. The final three competitions (Coffee in Good Spirits, Roasters, and Cup Tasters) were scheduled to hold their championships in April at the Specialty Coffee Expo in Portland, OR, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

May goes on saying: “In considering our options for moving forward—both completing the 2020 season and starting the 2021 season—we took into primary account the health and safety of the coffee workers in our community. Convening competitors and judges for a large competition comes with significant risk. We want to also be sensitive to the employment situations and finances of the people we serve. As the chairs of the US Competitions Committees, we see these two actions as necessary steps for US Competitions and our community:

  1. We are canceling the 2021 Preliminaries and Qualifiers. Instead, the competitors who have already qualified for USCIGS, USRC, and USCTC will automatically qualify for the championships in New Orleans in April of 2021 at the Specialty Coffee Expo.
  2. Additionally, we have communicated our support to our US Barista and Brewers Cup Champions if they choose to defer their candidacy from the 2020 World Coffee Championships to 2021. We fully support their decisions and know it is done out of concern for the safety of our competitors, their families, and the international coffee community.

Our first priority is the health and safety of the coffee community. This is the driving force behind our recommendations.

Returning to US competitions in 2021, we also want to recommit to a competition structure that is ever more diverse and inclusive—we reject racism, prejudice, and the marginalization of our Black colleagues. Our Competition Committees have committed to making competitions fair and equitable. We will spend time listening to and working with our community to actively evolve our coffee competitions in the diverse image of the industry they represent.

We will have actionable changes and steps outlined by October, and we commit to implementing those changes by April. We commit to using the energy otherwise spent on organizing Prelims and Qualifiers for the 2021 season to hold forum or virtual townhalls and we invite dialogue between committee members and the industry at large.”