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SCAA Competition Committee Unveils Two-Event Qualifying Structure for US Championships

US Coffee Championships barista championship

U.S. Coffee Championships photo.

The Specialty Coffee Association of America Competition Committee yesterday released schedules and details for this year’s U.S. Coffee Championships qualifying events, involving two state-border-free events in Knoxville, Tenn. (Jan. 21-22) and Austin, Texas (Feb. 11-12).

Over the past five years, the qualifying events — particularly for the U.S. Barista Championship and U.S. Brewers Cup Championship — have taken numerous forms, after being whittled down from six U.S. regional qualifying events to three regional qualifying events to a single qualifying event last year.

The elimination of regional events was criticized by some past competitors and former competition committee members as being prohibitive by limiting total numbers of competitors, while requiring additional travel expenses for many aspiring competitors, while the SCAA said the costs to operate the regional structures were draining too much from the organization’s general fund.

For the 2017-18 competition cycle, the competition committee has previously announced plans to host no fewer than six qualifying events hosted by SCAA member organizations. For this year, qualification must come through one of two larger events, called CoffeeChamps, that will be open to anyone in the country who meets the pre-event requirements, including registration and an online learning session.

U.S. Coffee Championship events covered in the CoffeeChamps event format include the U.S. Barista Championship, the U.S. Brewers Cup Championship, the U.S. Roaster Championship and the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship. Latte art events held in conjunction with the two CoffeeChamps will also dictate who may attend the U.S. Latte Art Championships.

All U.S. Coffee Championship events are scheduled to take place during the SCAA Expo in Seattle from April 21-23.

Here the committee’s announcement in full, along with registration links, signed by chair Jess Steffy:

Welcome to the 2017 season for coffee competitions! We’re excited to announce the dates and locations for the Qualifying Competitions of the U.S. Coffee Championships (USCC). Prior to the USCC — which will be held in Seattle, WA during The SCAA Expo on April 21-23, 2017 — SCAA is hosting two events where Qualifying Competitions will take place.

These community events—called CoffeeChamps — will be held at theKnoxville Convention Center in Knoxville, TN on January 21-22, 2017, and at the Palmer Events Center in Austin, TX on February 11-12, 2017.

In addition to some fun community engagement activities and tastings, CoffeeChamps will host the Qualifying Competitions for Barista, Brewers Cup, Roaster, and Cup Taster Championships. Those hoping to compete in the USCC Latte Art Throwdown in Seattle will have opportunities to win a spot in round one at designated TNTs held in conjunction with each CoffeeChamps event.

The Qualifying Competitions will vet competitors for USCC, and the top competitors from each of these events will advance to the national championship! It should be noted that anyone who resides in the U.S. can compete in either of the CoffeeChamps events, regardless of their region.

To compete in the Qualifying Competitions, competitors and judges must attend an online learning session to become acquainted with the competition and have the ability to ask questions prior to arriving onsite. Join us to hear about exciting updates to the competitions, and learn about even more ways to get involved! The first opportunity* to attend one of these online workshops is listed below for each competition:

Barista Competition Online Learning Session: Wednesday, October 26th
Time: 1:00pm – 3:00pm PDT | Register

Brewers Cup Competition Online Learning Session: Thursday, October 27th
Time: 1:00pm – 3:00pm PDT | Register

Roaster Competition Online Learning Session: Tuesday, November 1st
Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm PDT | Register

Cup Tasters Competition Online Learning Session: Tuesday, November 1st
Time: 9:00am – 10:00am PDT| Register

*Additional dates for online learning sessions can be found on each competition page on the website.

The Rules & Regulations, as well as competitor schedules, have been made available for the Qualifying Competitions. We hope that you’ll take the time to review these in detail, as well as educate yourself about the registration process and get prepared to sign up in early November. You can find detailed registration timelines on each of the competition pages for Barista, Brewers Cup, Roaster, and Cup Tasters Championships.

I look forward to seeing you all very soon at a CoffeeChamps near you!


Jess Steffy
Chair, Competition Committee


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