US regional barista competitions back on the table

President of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Board of Directors Tracy Allen has issued an apology for the communication surrounding the cancellation of the United States regional barista competitions last week. On behalf of the SCAA and Executive Director Ric Rhinehart, Allen said that at the time they believed they were making the best decision for the entire membership, however, now they’re not so sure. Allen said that the response from the United States’ barista community echoed the concerns raised by the Barista Guild of America Executive Council (BGAEC) that these events were too valuable to end so abruptly. Allen said the SCAA recognises that there may be another solution to regional qualifying events and that the BGAEC would be following this up immediately. Furthermore the SCAA apologised for how the news was communicated. The SCAA made the announcement via a press release, rather than via newsletter to its members. “Beyond the regional competitions, we acknowledge much of your feedback was about how the decision was communicated,” said Allen, in the statement to members. “No question, we failed by not communicating to our members first and we are committed to remedying that.” Chair of the BGAEC Lorenzo Perkins has also issued a statement confirming the BGAEC’s support for the future of the competition. “It’s an ongoing and sometimes challenging process, but we are committed to finding a sustainable way to continue to support the USBC as an important venue for celebrating the craft of coffee preparation,” said Perkins. Perkins said the backlash from the announcement led to a series of meetings at the SCAA Strategic Leadership Summit in Atlanta over the weekend. “We will form an ad hoc committee with members of our council, the SCAA competitions committee, the SCAA board, USBC sponsors and SCAA staff by the end of July to reopen a dialogue with barista competition stakeholders,” said Perkins. “By 13 July, we will publish the attendees, location, and agenda of the meeting, with the goal of presenting a solution for USBC qualifying events by September.” Perkins said the SCAA was eager to receive feedback from the industry. “We are listening,” said Perkins.

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