For the first time since its controversial announcement of a “deferred candidacy” policy for world coffee competitors, the Specialty Coffee Association Board of Directors has issued a collective response, while announcing plans to host “interactive town halls” to discuss the issue.
The policy, announced by the board on Nov. 9, allows World Coffee Events competitors — those people who have won their sanctioned national competitions — to defer their participation to the following year. It came about after numerous prominent organizations and individuals in the specialty coffee community spoke out against the SCA’s decision to host numerous 2018 events in Dubai (UAE), where the rights of LGBTQ people are not recognized, among other human rights concerns.
“Since the November 9 announcement of our Deferred Candidacy policy, the SCA Board of Directors have heard a variety of reactions from our members and other stakeholders. Many have been critical,” the SCA said in an announcement signed by the board this past weekend. “We have listened to and read your comments, and we recognize that we did not communicate our intention clearly and were not as thoughtful as we should have been to the concerns of members.
“For that we apologize. We want to be clear that the policy document is still being written, it is not yet defined in detail, and we are open to discussion and suggestions.”
Numerous independent grassroots efforts have been afoot to discuss the policy, along with any number of issues related to the SCA and its membership, which constitutes the largest coffee trade organization in the world. Sprudge has been updating a list of town-hall-style events taking place in cities primarily throughout the U.S. The SCA has pledged to send members of the board and/or the executive staff to many of these events, when invited, and the group has scheduled two online town hall events. Here is the info on those:
- SCA Town Hall #1: Wednesday, November 22, 8am PST / 4pm GMT: Register here.
- SCA Town Hall #2: Wednesday, November 29, 7am PST / 3pm GMT: Register here.
“The SCA staff and members of the board will continue collecting your feedback at these meetings and via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that we can consider all viewpoints as we begin working on the new vetting process for future events,” the board wrote.