D.C. coffee professionals to design a protest pin called The Force Majeure for attendees of SCA-sponsored events to wear in dissent of the recent Deferred Candidacy Policy announcement and the slate of international competitions to be hosted in Dubai in 2018.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Graphic courtesy of The Force Majeure
Over the last few weeks, many coffee professionals and baristas have expressed outrage and anger toward the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) over its decision to move forward with a series of international competitions to be held in Dubai in 2018 and the organization’s reaction to community disapproval—namely the Deferred Candidacy Policy, in which national champions can choose to opt out of international competitions and represent their countries on the world stage the following year if they have an extenuating circumstance that would prevent them from traveling to the host city. The choice to hold competitions in Dubai has been criticized due to the country’s laws regarding homosexuality and the number of documented human rights violations, most recently highlighted by The New York Times.
Baristas across the nation have come together to express dissatisfaction with the decision and with the SCA in general by holding town hall meetings, but many have been left wondering what to do next, especially with the Reno and New Orleans Qualifying Competitions slowly creeping up, which are hosted by the SCA. At some of the recent town halls, many baristas have expressed wanting to boycott the events in protest of the decision. “I had talked with some baristas who were considering boycotting the upcoming qualifying events in protest of this decision. That was really sad and frustrating to me, because these events have the potential to inspire new growth and learning in specialty coffee, not to mention you get to network with an amazing community of coffee professionals,” shares Dawn Shanks, quality control manager for Peregrine Espresso in Washington, D.C. Dawn urged folks to compete and express their dissatisfaction at competition, but quickly thought there could be problems with that. “I encouraged a few people to show up, but express their objection at the event. Then I realized, maybe not everyone has that opportunity because they want to represent their companies professionally. What could be another option?”
Dawn, along with Peregrine Espresso Store Manager Sarah Rice Scott and Counter Culture Coffee Wholesale Customer Support Representative Lenora Yerkes, created Force Majeure, a pin to protest the SCA and the Deferred Candidacy Policy at upcoming events. Force majeure, which is a French legal term that translates to “greater force” and references circumstances or events that cannot be anticipated, is a bold statement meant to give power back to baristas. “The idea of using Force Majeure is an attempt to reclaim and repurpose the language the SCA chose in the DCP and make it something positive,” says Sarah. “We are the force majeure. We are the changing tide, the unstoppable force that says we can’t do things like the DCP anymore. It was never right, and we have to make our voices heard. If it doesn’t lift up the most marginalized among us, it’s no good.”
“The policy is the semantic equivalent of missing a step going downstairs—we can’t not notice it—and they wrote it!” Lenora proclaims. Lenora, who is also an artist and illustrator, was brought into the project to design the pins, which feature a mug with coffee spilling and the words ‘force majeure’ written in the spilled coffee. “As for the inspiration, visually, I gotta shout out to Mike Balderrama, coffee director at The Potter’s House, for calling to mind the image of a Fetco just open, pouring coffee everywhere, as well as this Barbara Stanwyck charmer that’s been on my mind recently.”
Interested folks can order their pins here—the group will be selling them as close to at-cost as possible that will be available in mid-Jauary, and giving away a limited run of pins for free to attendees at the Reno Qualifying Competition in December. “In the immediate term, these pins are especially for those who are choosing to participate in competition (either judging, competing, volunteering, coaching, etc). These pins and this design is for everyone. We wanted something that transcends the immediate issues of the DCP and stands as a long-term statement in support of LGBTQAI individuals,” Sarah notes. The pins let baristas take back their power, and stand in support of their community. “I was all for it and emphasized that I thought the message should be a ‘yes to something’ as opposed to a ‘no to this,’ making it positive,” adds Sarah.