The 2021 United States Coffee Championships have been canceled. Scheduled to take place at the annual SCA Expo later this month in New Orleans, the four competitions without the 2020 National Champion – Cup Tasters, Coffee in Good Spirits, Roasters Championship and Latte Art – have been on hold until 2022. The exhibition will run as planned.
Announced today, the news comes after many in the industry have called for the competitions to be canceled. In August, Roaster’s Championships gear sponsor Mill City Roasters announced it would drop out due to COVID concerns, and then at least for the week the SCA U.S. Chapter National Committee and State Competitions Committee United have issued a statement asking the SCA to postpone the competitions. At the same time, in an Instagram post that was re-shared by other New Orleans cafes, Mammoth Espresso called for the entire Expo event to be canceled altogether, citing the disastrous effects of the Hurricane Ida over the city.
And now the American Coffee Championships have been suspended. In the press release announcing the postponements, SCA CEO Yannis Apostolopoulos says they “have listened to comments from the US Chapter and USCC Committee, and at their request, we will postpone American Coffee in Good Moods 2021, Tasters American Cups, and US Roaster Championships as well as the US Latte Art Competition until 2022.
The statement goes on to note that the Expo will proceed as planned as “many coffee companies rely on the Expo for their operations” and the SCA “uses [their] convening power to bring buyers and sellers together, business to business, person to person. It has tremendous value and these companies need it. Apostolopoulos also declares that “the city wants us there and has assured us that it is safe”.
The release also announces SCA’s plan to donate “50% of all participant income to New Orleans coffee businesses as they rebuild after Hurricane Ida.”
The full statement has been printed below:
This post is for exhibitors, sponsors, visitors and the broader specialty coffee community who attend the show each year to do business and connect.
Today I want to share with you that the SCA has decided to move forward with the Specialty Coffee Expo in New Orleans this month and will reluctantly postpone the United States Coffee Championships until 2022. As part of this move, we will also donate 50% of all participant income to New Orleans coffee businesses as they rebuild after Hurricane Ida.
At SCA, we are committed to putting on the best possible event so that our industry can restart, so that we can reconnect and rebuild. Many coffee companies rely on Expo for their operations. This is especially true for producers, importers, exporters, manufacturers and allied companies around the world. This is the main reason we organize a trade show – we use our convening power to bring buyers and sellers together, business to business, person to person. It has tremendous value and these companies need it.
Plus the city wants us there and assured us it was safe. We chat with the city of New Orleans every day as well as with the convention center and we have been assured that it is safe and will be ready. The building suffered slight damage which was repaired. You can find updates on the city and the convention center here: www.neworleans.com/updates/
We have carefully assessed the financial risk associated with this decision. Expo is the largest specialty coffee event in North America, and we’ve had contracts since 2016. While it took a while to assess, we’ve also taken a long look at the risk to our core values and mission in taking this decision.
Regarding the USCC. We have listened to comments from the US Chapter and USCC Committee, and at their request, we will be postponing the 2021 US Coffee in Good Spirits, US Cup Tasters and US Roaster Championships as well as the US Latte Art Competition until 2022. For those of you involved in USCC, our team will be in touch with you shortly.
As we look forward to the Expo, we will soon have updated information regarding Covid security, hotels, FAQs and other information about the show. For any other questions, do not hesitate to contact us via the contact form on the show website, a member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.
As mentioned – Expo provides tremendous value to our industry, but we are committed to making sure it brings value to the city of New Orleans and its wonderful coffee community. Our plan to contribute 50% of participant income will require the help of local and national partners to help us identify the best way to administer this support. If you would like to help or know someone who can help, please contact us.
Finally, thank you for your patience. These decisions were not easy and we hope everyone will make the best judgment for themselves. We are committed to hosting the best possible event so that our industry can reconnect, rebuild and restart.
If you can make it to Expo 2021, I can’t wait to see you in New Orleans.
CEO, Specialty Coffee Association
UPDATE 12:59 PM
The US Chapter of the SCA responded, reprinted in its entirety.
To our American coffee community
We would like to thank SCA Global for listening to our concerns and for expressing their agreement with us by taking action in response to our letter of recommendation to postpone USCC activities planned for the New Orleans Expo. . We believe this is the right outcome given the insurmountable circumstances surrounding the organization of events in the New Orleans area at this time. We would like to thank all of the competitors, volunteers, judges, sponsors and other participants for the commitments and tremendous contributions they have made to the USCC program to date. We look forward to welcoming everyone to the next round of competitions in the near future.
Announced earlier today, SCA has also decided to continue hosting the rest of the Expo events in New Orleans. This is not the decision that we as a chapter have championed alongside many other coffee professionals and organizations. The US Chapter has a mission of inclusiveness and accessibility, and hosting an event that is unable to fulfill that mission due to the effects of Hurricane Ida and the ongoing pandemic is something we can not support. Nonetheless, we sincerely wish a safe and rewarding experience for those planning to attend and contribute to the event. The memories, friendships and learning experiences that have blossomed at Expo year after year are unique, and we sincerely wish these continue for all who choose to participate in New Orleans.
We understand that this event serves coffee professionals with a complex web of needs both locally and globally. We support each person’s individual decision and respect the factors that one may have taken into account when choosing to participate this year. Please continue to prepare to comply with all COVID-19 security protocols required for attendance in New Orleans.
We must also honor the individuals, organizations and communities who shared and connected with us for discouraging the Expo from taking place in New Orleans. We sympathize with this community who asked us not to come and prioritize their feedback. We share information through our @sca_us chapter Instagram page on fundraising, resources, and other support opportunities for the New Orleans community. This information will be saved in our highlights for easy reference. We will continue to find additional ways to support the coffee community in New Orleans and beyond during this critical time. If you have any comments, additional information, or would like to speak more with our group, please contact email@example.com.
We will continue to advocate for better communication and transparency from SCA leadership in order to build stronger relationships and stronger alignment with the shared values of our coffee community in the United States. We will also seek to better understand how to work together to deliver programs in the United States that remain accessible, safe and inclusive, and that support the achievement of common and unique goals for the communities we serve.
This story is developing …
Zac Cadwalader is editor-in-chief of Sprudge Media Network and editor-in-chief based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.