The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the organization who produces the United States Coffee Championships, has announced changes to the prequalification system for the United States Barista Championship (USBC). Competitors will be able to register to compete at the USBC, beginning in the 2016 cycle, as follows:
- Baristas who either hold a level 1 or 2 SCAA certificate or those who have previously competed in the USBC or a regional barista competition during the 2014 or 2015 cycles will be eligible to register on January 18, 2016. There will be 35 spots available, on a first come, first serve basis. Companies may enter up to 3 competitors.
- Registration will open up to anyone interested in competing on January 27, 2016. There will be 12 spots available on a first come, first serve basis.
- The final 3 spots will be reserved for scholarship recipients; the SCAA will be releasing more information about the USBC scholarship program in late 2015.
In the last 5 years, barista-focused regional activity has increased dramatically. Barista Camp, an education focused event, was introduced in 2010 and has expanded by 400%. BGA Member Driven Events, community networking events, were launched in 2013 and just in the last year, we had over 150 MDE’s around the country. Currently, the SCAA is working closely with the Barista Guild of America Executive Council to identify new community event models that would further grow opportunities for members to learn, network and engage.
“While it is not easy to see the competitions change, the Barista Guild Executive Council acknowledges the need to ensure we are fulfilling the Barista Guild Mission and Vision with each event.” Stated BGA Chair Lorenzo Perkins. “In light of these changes, we have been working closely with the SCAA to be responsive to the needs of Barista Guild members to ensure that we enhance the value of all events for members. By transitioning away from the current regional barista competition structure, competitions will become more sustainable for the long-term, and valuable resources will be freed up to create new and exciting opportunities to engage our BGA membership. The Barista Guild looks forward to a strong field of competitors at the US Coffee Championships next year in Atlanta and supporting our membership through expanded Barista Camp opportunities, Member-Driven Events, and new opportunities to bring together and strengthen the barista community.”
The cessation of regional competitions in no way represents an end to regionally focused barista events – rather a refocus on how best to allocate association funds to best serve the barista community.
“The BGA has been so active in creating more inclusive events such as BGA Camps and I have loved seeing how many people they have been able to reach and the enthusiasm that has come from those events” said Heather Perry, SCAA 2nd Vice President and 2x USBC Champion. “I can’t wait to see what the BGA envisions for these additional resources and the opportunity to reach an even larger community of baristas.”
For many competitors, this new system will also reduce the costs of competing by eliminating the expense associated with the requirement to compete at a regional event; by removing the regional requirement, most competitors can expect to see a less expensive path to the USBC.
It was important to ensure that there was still a system for competitors to attend an informational, competition-like event to practice their routines and learn about the competition system. To address this need, the SCAA is working with the BGA to develop a prep fest model that will be member-driven and will follow a event structure similar to regional competitions. More information on prep fests will be available later in 2015.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to give us your feedback, suggestions on how to develop barista events that support the barista community in the best way possible.