It’s been a few years since the 2020 US Barista champion and US Brewers Cup champion were crowned in February in Long Beach, California, bringing to a conclusion just two of the five competitions at this year's US Coffee Championships. The remaining three—Coffee in Good Spirits, Cup Tasters, and the Roasters Championship—were all set for their national rounds to take place in Portland in April. Then COVID-19 hit and the world stood still. Since then every major coffee competition has been put on hiatus, indefinite or otherwise, or just outright canceled. And today the Specialty Coffee Association announced the fate of the remainder of the 2020 season as well as that of the earlier rounds of 2021.
In short, they’re cancelled.
In a letter penned by US Competitions coordinator Nathanael May posted to the SCA’s website, the decision to shut down mid-season comes “based on the strong recommendations of medical experts and scientists.” “Convening competitors and judges for a large competition comes with significant risk,” the letter states. “We want to also be sensitive to the employment situations and finances of the people we serve.”
As part of the SCA’s plan moving forward, all 2021 regional and qualifying events are cancelled, with all competitors in CIGS, Cup Tasters, and Roasters who had already punched their ticket to the national rounds as part of the truncated 2020 season will automatically qualify for 2021 nationals in New Orleans. Additionally, the SCA states they fully support the 2020 US Barista and Brewers Cup champions should they choose to defer competing until the 20201 World Coffee Championships.
When the US does return to competition in 2021, May states a priority will be put on diversity:
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.
The 2020 World Barista Championship and World Brewers Cup are scheduled to take place November 3-6 in Melbourne, Australia. For more information, visit the Specialty Coffee Association's official website.
Top image by Charlie Burt for Sprudge Live