The Canadian chapter of the Specialty Coffee Association has announced that it will not be sending Canadian national champions of various SCA-sanctioned world coffee championship events in Dubai (UAE) and Brazil next year.
The announcement, made Thursday, Nov. 10, came a day after the SCA Board of Directors announced a new “deferment policy” for world coffee competitions that allows competitors to defer their participation in any world championship to the next competition year, should they be “prevented from participating in a world championship event due to nationality, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual identity/orientation, health, bereavement, or force majeure.”
That announcement followed backlash from within the specialty coffee community after the SCA announced in September that Dubai, where LGBTQ rights are not recognized, would be a 2018 host city. The group — which represents a merger of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe that took place last year — then announced it was revisiting the selection of Dubai as a host city.
In last week’s “deferment policy” announcement, the SCA said concerns regarding the LGBTQ community also “surfaced broader questions around a full spectrum of barriers that exist for international competitors to participate in many of the regions that host our events.” In addition to allowing deferments, the SCA said it is assembling an ad hoc committee to establish vetting processes for future World Coffee Events sites and partners, while pledging to report on that committee’s work by the end of this year.
The deferment policy announcement was met by immediate backlash by a number of prominent organizations within the specialty coffee community, including the news site Sprudge, which said it was withdrawing as an SCA “media partner,” effective immediately. The details of the partnership deal were not made public.
For its part, SCA Canada said the chapter could not support the deferment policy “in good conscience,” and that Canadian competitors will not be attending the World Cup Tasters Championship and World Brewers Cup in Dubai (Sept. 2018), or the World Latte Art Championship and the World Coffee in Good Spirits Championships in Brazil (Nov. 2018).
“We cannot, in good conscience, ask our members to choose between compromising their safety, disclosing unnecessarily, not competing in the first place, or any of the other options this policy might require,” SCA Canada said in the announcement signed by SCA Canada coordinators Josh Hockin, Sam Le, Vania Ling, Adam Pesce and Mike Strumpf. “We believe our community is worth more than deferment requests and qualifying circumstances. As a Chapter, we must stand for human rights for all.”