GrindrGate: Clarification From The SCAA

GrindrGate: Clarification From The SCAA

Last week at MANE, we unintentionally set off a Twitter firestorm when we reported the following statement:

This, of course, amounts to quite a change from previous years, where the competition circuit has been a 24-hour grinder free-for-all.

So there was (understandably) a whole heckuva lotta hubub that ensued, none of which we really had much of an answer for, because the SCAA folks we followed up with were (understandably) waiting on an official announcement themselves before going into more detail. We’ve now received further clarification, and can share it with you, our precious, life-giving readers. Officially-official, from the SCAA:

5.4         Grinder

At the Regional level, Competitors have the option of using the official USBC grinder that is provided, bringing their own grinder(s) or using both the provided grinder and their own grinder. However, at the National Level Competition (USBC), Competitors must use the grinder(s) of the official USBC Grinder Sponsor. They may use personal grinders, as long as they are still from the same Manufacturer as the official USBC Grinder Sponsor (or some combination of the two). The USBC-provided grinder has a fixed technical configuration and cannot be opened/altered internally by the competitors.  Competitors may adjust the grind particle size and dose from the external controls.  The Grinder will be calibrated to the following specifications:  All provided Grinders will be equipped with new burrs and be set internally to calibration reference point Red Mark 2

Competitors may not use more than two grinders for espresso preparation during their performance, otherwise the competitor will receive zero (0) points in Station Management on all Technical Score Sheets. A grinder is defined for this competition as a paired motor and grinding surface.

The Malkonig K30 Vario WBC Certified Grinder

There you have it! We just report the news. Love it? Hate it? Pretty much hate it but also totally understand why it would be a financially and professionally logical thing for the SCAA to do? Much like the proverbial library, our comments section is *open*



  1. Daniel Lodewyk

    21 October

    This is a great idea.

    I hope this makes its way into Canada. It is the wild-west up here. Using punched Nuova Simonelli Baskets (NOT 20g VST) and some interesting grinders are out there.

    Getting sponsors highlighted increases the incentive for the companies being sponsored at the events. Also having companies compete to be the best grinder and to be chosen as the sponsored grinder could lead to further innovation. I really love the NS T3 and it is partially the product of barista competitions.

    • Stephen

      22 October


      Do you really think the SCAA and USBC hand-pick their favorite grinder manufacturer each year to be the competition sponsor? Your comment regarding further competition between and therefore innovation from grinder manufacturers is relevant, but the best grinder doesn’t get the gig, whoever is willing to pay the big bucks gets it, just like Nuova Simonelli out bid La Marzocco to be official espresso machine sponsor

    • Obi wan

      16 November

      It’s true , vst baskets are Made with light sabers .

      One time I let a blind man use a vst basket and he got his sight back

  2. Sebastian Huigens

    19 October

    This is a great move. Standardizing equipment can only help to make the competition more transparent. Though it should be said , that if competitors are limited by protocol, it is the responsibility of organizers to ensure there is enough practice time for participants on sanctioned equipment.

  3. Thomas

    19 October

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that yes… It’s extremely limiting.. But! This may act as an equalizer for shops that can’t afford the all the “heady gear” that maybe another shop with deep pockets can. I think this has a greater impact to leveling the playing field and giving true talent more of a shot than it just being a bummer for those who may have already blown 4 grand on a different grinder they like more. These competitions should be more about the skill of the Barista than the bank account of the company you work for and unfortunately limiting the gear may be a part of giving talent more of a spotlight. I know that the gear doesn’t make the Barista.. Lets face it. The difference between a Super Jolly and a Robur is huge.

    I agree with Jess.. I’m surprised this didn’t happen years ago.

  4. SAO

    19 October

    I’m with J Steff & D Streets: information longs to be free, even if grinders ain’t

  5. Jess Steffy

    19 October

    I think this is a completely logical and sensible move on the SCAA’s part. I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. It might have been more convenient for competitors if this decision was announced sooner (AKA: It came as a shock.)…but there’s never a convenient time to make a change like this. (Ok, well, maybe at the close of competition last year?) But the sooner we know about the change, the better we can adapt, right? Viva Dan Streetman! ;)

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