The 2021 US Coffee Championships have been canceled. Scheduled to take place at the annual SCA Expo at the end of this month in New Orleans, the four competitions without a 2020 national champion—Cup Tasters, Coffee in Good Spirits, Roasters Championship, and Latte Art—have been put on hold due until 2022. Expo will go on as planned.

Announced today, the news comes after many in the industry have called for the competitions to be canceled. In August, equipment sponsor for the Roaster’s Championships Mill City Roasters announced they would be dropping out due to COVID concerns, then least week, the SCA USA Chapter National Committee and US Competitions Committee put out a statement requesting the SCA postpone the competitions. At the same time, in an Instagram post that has been reshared by fellow New Orleans cafes, Mammoth Espresso has called for the wholesale cancelation of the entire Expo event, citing the disastrous effects Hurricane Ida had on the city.

And now the US Coffee Championships have been put on hiatus. In the statement announcing the postponements, SCA CEO Yannis Apostolopoulos states that they “have listened to the feedback from the US Chapter and the USCC Committee, and on their request, we will be postponing the 2021 U.S. Coffee in Good Spirits, U.S. Cup Tasters, and U.S. Roaster Championships as well as the U.S. Latte Art Competition until 2022.”



The statement goes on to note that Expo will go on as scheduled because “many coffee companies rely on Expo for their businesses,” and that the SCA is “using [their] convening power to bring buyers and sellers together, business to business, person to person. This has enormous value and these companies need this.” Apostolopoulos also states that “the city wants us there and has assured us it’s safe.”

The statement also announces the SCA’s plan to donate “50% of all attendee revenue to New Orleans coffee businesses as they rebuild after Hurricane Ida.”

The full statement has been printed below:

Hello,

This message is for Specialty Coffee Expo exhibitors, sponsors, visitors, and the wider specialty coffee community who attend the show every year to do business and to 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 be regretfully postponing the United States Coffee Championships to 2022. As part of this decision, we will also be donating 50% of all attendee revenue to New Orleans coffee businesses as they rebuild after Hurricane Ida.

We at the SCA are committed to putting on the best event we possibly can so our industry can restart, so we can reconnect, and rebuild. Many coffee companies rely on Expo for their businesses. This is especially true for producers, importers, exporters, manufacturers and allied businesses around the world. This is the main reason we do a trade show – we’re using our convening power to bring buyers and sellers together, business to business, person to person. This has enormous value and these companies need this.

Additionally, the city wants us there and has assured us it’s safe. We are talking to the city of New Orleans every day, as well as the convention center and have been assured it’s safe and will be ready. The building sustained light damage which has been repaired.  You can find updates on the city and convention center here:  www.neworleans.com/updates/

We carefully assessed the financial risk involved with this decision.  Expo is the largest specialty coffee event in North America, and we have been in contracts since 2016. While that took time to assess, we also took a long look at the risk to our fundamental values and mission in making this decision.

Regarding USCC. We have listened to the feedback from the US Chapter and the USCC Committee, and on their request, we will be postponing the 2021 U.S. Coffee in Good Spirits, U.S. Cup Tasters, and U.S. Roaster Championships as well as the U.S. Latte Art Competition until 2022.  For those of you involved in the USCC, our team will be in touch very shortly.

So as we look forward now to Expo, we will have updated information regarding Covid Safety, hotels, FAQs and other show information shortly. For any other questions, please contact us using the contact form on the expo website, and one of our team will get back to you as quickly as we can.

As mentioned – Expo provides huge value to our industry, but we are determined to make sure it brings value to the city of New Orleans, and to its wonderful coffee community. Our plan to contribute 50% of attendee revenue will require help from local and national partners to help us identify the best way to administer this support. If you’re interested in helping, or know of someone who can help – please get in touch.

Finally, thank you for your patience.  These have not been easy  decisions and we trust everyone will make the best judgement for themselves. We are committed to putting on the best event we possibly can so our industry can reconnect, rebuild and restart.

If you can make it to Expo 2021, I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans.

Thank you,
Yannis Apostolopoulos
CEO, Specialty Coffee Association

UPDATE 12:59PM

The US Chapter of the SCA has responded, reprinted in full.

To our US Coffee Community

We want to thank SCA Global for listening to our concerns and for demonstrating 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 think this is the right outcome considering the insurmountable circumstances around hosting events in the New Orleans region at this time. We want to thank all the competitors, volunteers, judges, sponsors, and other participants for the considerable commitments and contributions they’ve made to the USCC program to date. We can’t wait to welcome everyone to the next series of competitions in the near future.

Announced earlier today, SCA has also decided to continue moving forward with hosting the remainder of Expo events in New Orleans. This is not the decision that we as a Chapter have been advocating for, alongside many other coffee professionals and organizations. The US Chapter has a mission of inclusivity and accessibility, and hosting an event that is unable to meet that mission due to the effects of Hurricane Ida and the ongoing pandemic, is something we cannot support. Nonetheless, we do sincerely wish for 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 one of a kind, and we truly wish for those to continue for all who choose to participate in New Orleans.

We understand that this event is in the service of coffee professionals with a complex web of needs both locally and globally. We support every person’s individual decision and respect the factors that one may have considered when choosing to participate this year. Please continue to prepare to comply with all COVID-19 safety protocols that are required for attendance in New Orleans.

We must also honor those individuals, organizations, and communities that have shared and connected with us to discourage Expo from taking place in New Orleans. We empathize with this community that asked us not to come and are prioritizing their feedback. We’re sharing information through our chapter Instagram page @sca_us about fundraisers, resources, and other support opportunities for the New Orleans community. This info will be saved to 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 feedback, additional information, or would like to speak further with our group, please reach out to [email protected]

We will continue to advocate for better communication and transparency from SCA leadership in ways that aim to build stronger relationships and more firm alignment with the shared values of our US coffee community. We will also seek to better understand ways to work together to deliver programs in the US that remain accessible, safe, and inclusive, and supportive of achieving both shared and unique goals for the communities that we serve.

This story is developing…

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

 


By Harmony