Are you spending too much trying to compete in a coffee competition? Borrow some glassware or a scale from WINCC, an organization dedicated to removing barriers to competition and providing support to competitors.
There are a few things we know about coffee competitions: they are very expensive and they tend not to feature as many women or minorities as men. As an example, last year only 25% of competitors (9 out of 36) at the United States Barista Championships were women, with even smaller percentages represented in other competitions, and an even smaller percentage at the world level.
Women Investing in Northwest Coffee Champs (WINCC) is hoping to change that narrative by providing resources to women and empowering them through education and continued support throughout the competition season. “WINCC is a coffee competitor resource library that provides financial support to coffee competitors through the creation and dissemination of tools, supplies, and education resources for use in coffee competitions,” shares Caryn Nelson, one of the founders of the organization. “While WINCC seeks to provide the opportunity to compete to all coffee professionals, we are specifically seeking people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to compete, notably women, people of color, the LBGTQ community and anyone else who lacks the same resources as other competitors. Through the library, we wish to promote an inclusive, judgement-free, safe and equitable environment in which competitors of every background can thrive.”
One of the first initiatives launched by WINCC is establishing a library of tools for potential competitors to draw from if they need anything to compete. “The tools, supplies, and smallwares section of the library launched in November with a $2,000+ in-kind donation from Pacific Foods,” shares Caryn. WINCC hopes that potential competitors are not held back by the prohibitive costs of smallwares, which is a huge concern for most competitors. “WINCC was established for people who wish to compete in coffee competitions but who may not have the resources to compete.”
In an arena where competitors bring their own grinders and bar carts, the amount one spends can sometimes seem correlated with how well they do. For many competitors, especially those who represent small coffeeshops, sparing a grinder or any of the shop’s glassware is simply impossible. WINCC hopes to remove the challenges many competitors face and provide a more level playing field for those who lack the resources to buy a whole set of water glasses or new demitasse cups. WINCC also hopes to make competition easier by creating a network of competitors willing to share or use the same tools—there’s no need for 36 individual scales, and WINCC helps remove some of the burden of traveling across the country with all the tools you need to compete.
The WINCC library isn’t live yet, but will be soon. You can help build up the library of tools by contacting Becky Reeves or Caryn Nelson by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Even if you don’t have anything to give, WINCC is looking for volunteers and allies that want to get involved and help out with WINCC-sponsored events in the future. Any competitors, not just those in the Pacific NW, can contact WINCC and borrow tools. And you can also chat with Becky and Caryn at CoffeeChamps in Austin, where they’ll be sharing the story of WINCC and engaging members to contribute and be part of a larger movement meant to empower more women competitors and remove the barriers that have often stood in front of baristas to compete.