Barista Magazine on the Just-Announced WCE Deferred Candidacy Policy

We at Barista Magazine are gravely disappointed by the decision announced today by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) and World Coffee Events (WCE) regarding management of competitor advocacy as to the location choices for upcoming international coffee competitions. We expect our community to stand up for its values of inclusivity and respect for all people. The “solution” offered to put the onus on the competitor to make public their reason for discomfort visiting the host country is deplorable to say the least. This decision affects not only the competitors, but everyone involved in the competitions: judges, coaches, volunteers, attendees, and thousands of online viewers, i.e., tens of thousands of people in our global coffee community.

Three of our staffers are in Seoul, South Korea, right now to cover the World Barista Championship (WBC). We will remain here to support and celebrate these incredible baristas through the end of the event, because the location choices, and this new conflict-ridden deferred candidacy policy, came about after they had competed and planned to take part in the 2017 WBC. They have earned the right to be in the spotlight; these baristas don’t deserve to be punished for a decision that was made after they began their championship journey. We will celebrate them through the completion of the WBC in Seoul here at Barista Magazine Online and via our social media, and in the pages of both the December 2017 + January 2018, and February + March 2018, issues of Barista Magazine, as planned as well as promised to the National Barista Champions.

Following this event, we will decide whether to drop our media sponsorship of WCE events, as well as coverage of future WCE events, based on how the SCA and WCE respond to the outrage at their handling of this situation—not only ours, but that of an enormous faction of our global community.

We want to hear from you. We want to know what you think of this Deferred Candidacy policy, yay or nay—and if nay, what solution you think would solve this complex issue.

Please feel free to leave your comments here, or submit them via email to



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Barista Magazine is the leading trade magazine in the world for the professional coffee community.


  1. (Received via email to Barista Magazine)

    As a competitor in the upcoming Qualifier event in Reno, I feel disheartened and conflicted. I have worked too hard to drop out of this competition. I plan to use my competition time as a platform for my thoughts on the future of specialty coffee and inclusivity. I hope my fellow competitors who choose to compete in the upcoming event will do the same. We have a voice and we get 10+ minutes to say whatever we want. I plan on presenting myself both visually and verbally as a symbol of my disappointment in the SCA’s decision. I fully support those who choose not to attend.”

    I’m sure there are plenty of other people in my position, who have worked hard and have had people invest both time and money into this competition. Instructing and competing at SCA events has pushed me so hard as coffee professional and I don’t want to give up. I think competitors in my position can use this opportunity to speak up and I hope that they do. If we could all dress the same and maybe wear a symbolic pin or patch to show our disappointment it would go a long way.

    Thanks for listening,

    Kelly Hill
    Temple Coffee
    Sacramento, Calif.

  2. It’s good for a change too see someone not punishing competitors and the vast number of volunteers and supporters for the boards decision.

    We need to remember that we are SCA. This is a member/volunteer community, we choose national bodies and board members from ourselves. We should demand change, volunteer for the board etc. not just boycot something we are part of.

    The policy is not only badly timed but apart from the moral standpoint creates potential chaos and uncertainty for national bodies. There is a risk that national competitions could be cancelled after being scheduled and sponsorship opportunities signed.

    One thing being certain that someone is not doing a good job with dealing with situations like this and should stand down.

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