The United States chapter of the Specialty Coffee Association has issued an open letter seeking to postpone the United States Coffee Championships, which are currently scheduled to begin later this month in New Orleans.
The group said it is currently “working closely” with the SCA, which has to this point remained firm in its intentions to hold the annual national competition events alongside the upcoming Specialty Coffee Expo, scheduled to run Sept. 30 through Oct. 2.
The U.S. chapter cited the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, relatively high rates of infection in New Orleans and the recent tragedy caused by Hurricane Ida as contributing factors towards wishing to postpone the competitions.
“Within the context of the ongoing pandemic, we are thoughtfully considering the presence, health and safety of the entire group of participants of the USCC event,” the letter, which is signed by the SCA USA chapter and the US Coffee Competitions Committee, states. “This includes competitors, judges, volunteers, sponsors and the support teams that surround each of you. We must take into account the dire situation that the residents and Coffee Workers of New Orleans are currently facing following Hurricane Ida. Holding a competition in a city that has been tremendously impacted less than 30 days prior by one of the most significant storms to hit the US coast line in modern times is simply not appropriate.”
The SCA recently announced safety measures for the SCA Expo and surrounding events, including mask requirements and proof of a negative COVID test upon show entry, but not proof of vaccination.
The US Coffee Competition show floor, stages and related booths occupy approximately 1/3 of the total Expo show floor by volume. A current map of the remaining expo show floor shows at least 88 booths available to potential exhibitors.
Citing public health concerns, coffee roaster manufacturer Mill City Coffee Roasters has already announced its decision to pull out as a sponsor of one of the US Coffee Championships, the US Roaster Championship.
Outside of the 2020 US Barista and Brewers Cup Championships, which took place in February of that year, neither US Coffee Championships nor the Specialty Coffee Expo have taken place since March and April of 2019.
Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine.