FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

See below for Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Qualifying Competitions, including General Questions, as well as specific Barista, Brewers Cup, Roaster, Cup Tasters, Latte Art, and Judging questions.


General Questions

• WHERE DO I REGISTER TO COMPETE IN THE COFFEECHAMPS QUALIFYING COMPETITIONS?

Registration information will be emailed to qualified competitors and judges after the conclusion of CoffeeChamps. Only qualified competitors and invited judges may participate at the U.S. Coffee Championships.

• WHEN WILL REGISTRATION FOR THE USCC OPEN? (DATE/TIME)

Registration opens Monday, February 12, 2018.

• HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO COMPETE AT A QUALIFYING COMPETITION?

QUALIFYING PRICING:

BARISSTA COMPETITION: $450 members; $725 non-members
BREWERS CUP: $450 members; $725 non-members
CUP TASTERS: $450 members; $725 non-members
ROASTERS: $450 members; $725 non-members
LATTE ART: $150

• CAN I COMPETE IN MULTIPLE COMPETITIONS AT USCC?

Yes.

• CAN I TRANSFER MY REGISTRATION TO SOMEONE ELSE?

No, registrations are non-transferable and non-refundable.

• DO I NEED TO BE A BGA, CTG, CRG, OR SCA MEMBER BEFORE I REGISTER, OR CAN I SIGN UP TO BECOME A MEMBER WHEN I REGISTER? WILL THAT SLOW DOWN MY REGISTRATION, CAUSING ME TO BE WAITLISTED?

You do not need to be a BGA, CTG, CRG, or SCA member to register for the competitions. Competitors who are members receive a discounted price.

Judging for members is free and $60 for non-members.

Not a member? Please email memberships@sca.coffee to sign up before registration opens!

• I COMPETED AT COFFEECHAMPS BUT DIDN’T QUALIFY, CAN I BE ADDED TO A WAITLIST?

The ranking sheets from Reno and New Orleans CoffeeChamps automatically turns into a waitlist for USCC. If competitors passes on their spot, we go down the ranking sheet from the same CoffeeChamps until the spot is filled.

The waitlist will be maintained until 2 weeks prior to USCC. If at anytime a competitor drops out of the competition the next competitor on the waitlist will be contacted offered the option to compete.

If a spot opens for a waitlisted competitor, they will have 48 hours to complete and pay for their registration, after 48 hours we will move onto the next competitor on the waitlist.

• WHEN WILL THE COMPETITOR SCHEDULE BE RELEASED?

The competitor schedule will released 2-4 weeks before USCC. As soon as this is complete it will be emailed to all competitors and posted on the uscoffeechampionships.org website.

• WHEN ARE THE ONLINE LEARNING SESSIONS?

All Online Learning Sessions will take place prior to USCC. A list of scheduled sessions will be emailed to all competitors and judges. Competitors and Judges are required to take one session. All session participants will be logged and checked against their registration.

• WHAT HAPPENS IF I MISS MY SCHEDULED ONLINE LEARNING SESSION?

The sessions will be recorded; those who cannot attend the live session(s) may watch the recordings. However, attendance at a live session is highly recommended, so everyone has the opportunity to ask questions about the Rules and protocols.

• WILL THERE BE A COMPETITOR MEETING BEFORE THE COMPETITION?

No, the Online Learning Sessions will be your chance to ask Rules and competition related questions. Any important onsite information will be given to you via email before the competition. The National Competitions Manager, Stage Manager, Asst. Stage Manager, and/or Head Judges will also be able to assist you with onsite event questions during the competition.

• I WANT TO SPONSOR COFFEECHAMPS, WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE AND WHOM SHOULD I CONTACT?

Please contact our sponsorship team by clicking here.

•WILL THERE BE A JUDGES DEBRIEFING SO I CAN RECEIVE FEEDBACK FROM JUDGES ABOUT MY PERFORMANCE?

Yes. Judges debrief with competitors on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Scoresheets will be distributed during judges debrief. Saturday debrief is only for competitors not moving on to Finals.

• WILL COFFEE BE SERVED AT USCC?

Yes, there will be an area where samples of coffee and espresso will be provided for general consumption!


Barista Qualifying Competition

• HOW MANY DRINKS ARE REQUIRED AT THE QUALIFYING COMPETITION?

COMPETITORS ARE REQUIRED TO PRODUCE 4 ESPRESSOS AND 4 SIGNATURE DRINKS.

• WHAT IS THE FORMAT FOR THE BARISTA QUALIFYING COMPETITION?

COMPETITION TIME:

1 Hour practice (per round)
15 minutes preparation
15 minutes performance
7 minutes clean up

• WHAT IS THE COMPETITION SET-UP?

3 COMPETITION TABLES SET UP:

COFFEECHAMPS:
MACHINE TABLE: 72" L X 36” W X 36” H
WORK TABLE: 72" LX 30" W X 36" H
JUDGE TABLE: 72" L X 30" W X 30" H

Please note new Judges Table size.

• HOW MANY JUDGES WILL EVALUATE MY PERFORMANCE?

There will be 4 sensory judges, 2 technical judges, and 1 head judge

• WHAT IS THE PERFORMANCE TIME?

You will have 15 minutes competition time.

• CAN I BRING MY OWN GRINDER?

Yes. USBC competitors must use 1 of the 2 specified grinder models from the official USBC Grinder Sponsor, Mahlkonig, to prepare the espresso for each course in their competition routine. The USBC sponsored grinders are the Mahlkonig Peak and the EK43. Provided grinder are only to be used onsite. The grinder have a fixed technical configuration including the hopper and cannot be opened or subjected to any functional modifications by the competitions (e.g. short hopper, temperature probe, etc.) The provided grinders will be calibrated to the same specifications for each competitor. The use of a competitor’s own grinder is allowed, as long as the grinder model is identical to 1 of the 2 acceptable Mahlkonig models. Competitor’s grinders may not have any functional modifications (e.g. short hopper, temperature probe, etc.) Not following these rules is ground of disqualification.

• CAN I USE A SPONSOR GRINDER?

Yes. USBC will provide 1 of each model grinder to each competitor, upon their request in the Competitor Information Form. Competitors who wish to use 2 of the same model grinder (e.g., 2 EK43 grinders) must supply the second grinder of that model.

• WHAT OTHER EQUIPMENT CAN I BRING?

There will be 2x 120v outlets available for additional competition equipment. There is a max 20 amp draw total. The outlet will be placed at the competitor preparation table. You will need to check the amperage and voltage of your equipment to see if this capacity is sufficient to run additional equipment.

If a competitor wishes to place their espresso grinder(s) on the work table, that is permissible, however it will count at towards their additional electrical equipment allotment.

• WHERE DO I STORE MY THINGS WHEN I GET TO THE QUALIFYING COMPETITION?

Barista competitors will be provided a 3’ table space. A fridge and freezer will also be available for the competitors. All items in the fridge or freezer must be labeled with the competitor’s name.

• WHEN WILL I BE ABLE TO HAVE ACCESS TO MY COMPETITOR TABLE?

All competitors (Round One and those that received a “bye” into Semi-Finals) will have access to their tables starting on Thursday from 2pm-4pm or anytime after 6:30am on Friday.

• WILL MILK BE PROVIDED?

Yes.

• CAN I BRING MY OWN MILK?

Yes.

• IS ALCOHOL STILL PROHIBITED IN THE BARISTAS ROUTINE?

Yes. Any ingredients may be used in the signature beverage preparation except alcohol, alcohol extracts or by-products, controlled or illegal substances. If these substances are found in the beverage, competitors will receive zero points in all categories available on the sensory score sheets in the signature beverage category. Head Judges may request to inspect competitor ingredients.

• WILL THERE BE ANY AV AMPLIFICATION, LIVESTREAM, ETC.?

Yes, the Barista Qualifying Competition will be livestreamed. The competitors will wear mics.

• CAN I PLAY MY OWN MUSIC?

Yes, you are able to play music for your competition time. CDs are prefered however USB drives and MP3 players including cellular telephones with an auxiliary port can also be accepted. If you are providing an MP3 player/cell phone all passcodes must be disabled. If your cell phone does not have an auxiliary port, such as the iPhone 7, you will need to provide an adapter. Please bring your music to the audiovisual desk between 7am – 8am on the day of your competition only. You must label your provided music, with your name and competitor number. Tape and a sharpie can be provided at the AV desk. Music will be available for pick up at the end of the competition day approximately 4pm.

If you provide a CD, please be sure to check that it plays in a CD player either in a car stereo or on a DVD/Blu-ray Audio system that plays music CDs– not on your computer. Occasionally CDs corrupt during processing and may not play on a different audio system.

• WILL THE BARISTA QUALIFYING COMPETITION BE LIVESTREAMED?

Yes.


Brewers Cup Qualifying Competition

• WHAT DAYS WILL I COMPETE?

All competitors will compete on both Friday and Saturday. Competitors will do Open Service one day and Compulsory the converse day. Those that advance to Finals will compete on Sunday.

• WILL THERE BE COMPULSORY AND OPEN SERVICE AT THE QUALIFYING COMPETITION?

Yes, each Brewers Cup competitor will compete in the Compulsory Service and Open Service.

• WHAT IS THE COMPULSORY COFFEE?

The provided Compulsory Service coffee will be a medium to medium­-light roasted fully washed specialty grade coffee (Agtron 55 to 70 Ground on ‘gourmet scale’), roasted no more than seven days prior to the competition day.

• WHEN WILL I RECEIVE MY COMPULSORY COFFEE?

Compulsory coffee will be given to each competitor at the start of their Compulsory Service practice time. Any remaining compulsory coffee must be returned to the Stage Manager after your performance time has concluded.

• HOW LONG WILL I HAVE WITH THE COMPULSORY COFFEE?

Compulsory Service will immediately follow Practice time. Competitors will have 38 minutes of Practice/setup time with the coffee and then, at the same station and on the same grinder & hot water tower, start their Setup and Performance time. Please also note, no coaches, helpers, or assistants will be allowed on the Compulsory stage. Only competitors currently competing, volunteers, and the Event Manager are permitted on the Compulsory stage.

• HOW MUCH COFFEE WILL I RECEIVE FOR COMPULSORY SERVICE?

Each competitor will receive 12oz (350g) of compulsory coffee.

• WHAT IS THE COMPETITION LAYOUT FOR BREWERS CUP?

THE COMPETITION AREA WILL BE SPLIT INTO TWO MAIN AREAS. THE OPEN SERVICE MAIN STAGE WILL BE THE SAME SIZE AND SHAPE AS LAST YEAR. COMPULSORY SERVICE WILL TAKE PLACE ON A SEPARATE STAGE, NEAR THE BRC MAIN STAGE. SEE SECTION 6 OF THE RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR MORE DETAILS.

COMPULSORY COMPETITION TIME:

The competition area will be split into two main areas. Open Service will be on the main stage. Compulsory Service will take place on a separate stage in the morning.

Compulsory Competition Time:
38 minutes practice/preparation
7 minutes performance
5 minutes clean up

Open Service Competition Time:
20 minutes practice
5 minutes preparation
10 minutes performance
5 minutes clean up

• AM I REQUIRED TO DO AUDIENCE SERVICE

No. There is no Audience Service at USBrC.

• HOW MUCH OF MY OPEN SERVICE COFFEE AM I REQUIRED TO BRING?

As much as you will need for competition. There is no minimum required for USBrC.

• WILL THERE BE ANY AV AMPLIFICATION, LIVESTREAM, ETC.?

The Open Service portion of the competition will have AV (competitors will have mics and can provide music).The Finals of USBrC will be livestreamed.

• CAN I PLAY MY OWN MUSIC?

Yes, you are able to play music for your Open Service competition time. Only CDs will be accepted for music. Please bring your music to the audiovisual desk between 7am – 8am on the day of your competition only. You must label your provided music, with your name and competitor number. Tape and a sharpie can be provided at the AV desk. Music will be available for pick up at the end of the competition day approximately 4pm.

Please be sure to check that your CD plays in a CD player, either in a car stereo or on a DVD/Blu-ray Audio system that plays music CDs, not on your computer. Occasionally CDs corrupt during processing and may not play on a different audio system.

• AM I REQUIRED TO USE THE SPONSORED GRINDER?

During Open Service & Serve The Audience competitors may use the sponsored grinder or another grinder of their choosing - however, only the sponsored grinder may be used in the competition area and during the competition time.

During Compulsory Service competitors must use the provided sponsor grinder. Competitors will be competing on the same grinder on which the practice.

• AM I REQUIRED TO USE THE SPONSORED WATER?

Competitors must utilize the water provided by the competition for Compulsory Service, but competitors may utilize their own brew water for Open Service.

The provided water will be available in the competitor room for practice but no hot water tower. Competitors are NOT allowed to use the water towers or water jugs in the Compulsory Service and Open Service stage areas in order to be respectful of other competitors practice and competition times.

• CAN I BRING ANY ADDITIONAL ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT?

Competitors may bring up to 2 pieces of electrical equipment. Total power available for the additional equipment is one independent circuit of 120v/20 amps. The outlet will be placed at the competitor preparation table. You will need to check the amperage and voltage of your equipment to see if this capacity is sufficient to run additional equipment.

• WHERE DO I STORE MY THINGS WHEN I GET TO THE QUALIFYING COMPETITION?

Brewers Cup competitors will be provided a 3’ table space to use over the duration of the competition.

• WHEN WILL I BE ABLE TO HAVE ACCESS TO MY COMPETITOR TABLE?

Brewers Cup Competitors will be able to drop off their wares at their table from 2pm-4pm on Thursday or starting at 6:30am on Friday.

• CAN I USE MY OWN BREWER?

As long as it’s a manual brewing device, you can use it.

• DO I HAVE TO BREW 3 SEPARATE BREWS?

Yes, competitors will prepare and serve three individual coffee beverages, one to each of the three judges.


Roaster Qualifying Competition

• WHAT IS THE COMPULSORY GREEN COFFEE?

The compulsory green coffee is being carefully selected with the help of the U.S. Roaster Competition Group. Once the selection has been approved and finalized we will email competitors with more detailed information.

• WHEN WILL I RECEIVE MY GREEN COFFEE?

Green coffee samples will be shipped to competitors in Mid-March.

• HOW MUCH GREEN COFFEE WILL I RECEIVE?

Each competitor will be shipped a 1kg sample of the compulsory green coffee.

On Thursday evening, during Roasting Practice, competitors will receive the 9kg of compulsory green coffee for the weekend.

• WHAT IS THE COMPETITION LAYOUT FOR ROASTERS?

The competition area will be centralized within the CoffeeChamps arena. It will consist of tables with competitor’s air pots or dispensers and cups for Service.

Roasting Time:
30 minutes of practice roasting on Thursday
30 minutes of Production Roasting on Friday
30 minutes of option cupping time on Friday

Presentation Time:
10 minutes prior to competition time arrive to stage
5 minutes Presentation
30 minutes Audience Service
5 minutes clean up

• AM I REQUIRED TO DO THE SERVE THE AUDIENCE PORTION OF THE COMPETITION?

Yes. Competitors are required to participate in serving audience members their coffee. Competitors will be given one (1) air pot or dispenser with their coffee for both Presentation and Audience Service. Competitors must remain on the stage for the entire scheduled competition time or until their air pot/dispenser is empty, whichever comes first.

• HOW MUCH OF MY ROASTED COFFEE AM I REQUIRED TO BRING?

You will need to bring 2lbs of your selected coffee. The coffee will be transferred into coded bags onsite. Competitors who do not bring 2lbs will be disqualified.

• IS THE SERVE THE AUDIENCE PORTION OF THE COMPETITION SCORED?

No. This section is not scored however not participating in Audience Service will result in disqualification. The Stage Manager will inform the Head Judges in any competitor leaves during their Audience Service timeslot.

• WILL THERE BE ANY AV AMPLIFICATION, LIVESTREAM, ETC.?

NO, THERE WILL BE NO LIVE STREAM OR AV FOR THE ROASTERS COMPETITIONS.


Cup Tasters Qualifying Competition

• HOW MANY TRIANGULATIONS WILL THERE BE?

There will be 8 triangulations per competitor at the Qualifying Competition.

• HOW LONG WILL EACH ROUND LAST?

Each round will last a maximum of 8 minutes or until each competitor has called “time”.

• HOW MANY ROUNDS WILL THERE BE?

There will be 3 rounds. Round One, Semi-Finals, and Finals.

• WHAT HAPPENS IF I MOVE A CUP?

When cups are selected they should be pushed across the table. If competitors lifts a cup off the table or touches any cup it is determined to be their final selection and must be moved across the line into the separate box. Once the cup has been pushed over the line, the cup must not be moved again.


Judging at U.S. Coffee Championships

• HOW DO I JUDGE AT THE U.S. COFFEE CHAMPIONSHIPS?

All judges for USCC are invited from the pool of judges from this season’s CoffeeChamps.

• WHERE AND WHEN IS THE JUDGE CERTIFICATION WORKSHOP?

Exact locations and dates will be announced shortly.

• HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO JUDGE?

Judging for BGA/CTG/CRG/SCA members is free and $60 for non-members.

Not a member? Please email memberships@sca.coffee to sign up!

• IS THERE A TEST TO QUALIFY AS A JUDGE?

In order to be certified as a competition judge, you must pass the full day Judges Certification Workshop. To pass the workshop, you must attend the workshop in its entirety and pass all calibration evaluations and exercises. To prepare for the workshop, please study the competition’s Rules & Regulations carefully. You will be tested on the Rules & Regulations and scoresheets. Judges will also be required to take one Online Learning Session.

• WHEN ARE THE ONLINE LEARNING SESSIONS?

All Online Learning Sessions will take place prior to USCC. A list of scheduled online sessions will be emailed out to all judges. Judges are required to take one online session. All session participants will be logged and checked against their registration.

• WHAT HAPPENS IF I MISS MY SCHEDULED ONLINE LEARNING SESSION?

These sessions will be recorded; those who cannot attend the live session(s) may watch the recordings. However, attendance at a live session is highly recommended, so everyone has the opportunity to ask questions about the Rules & judging protocols.

• HOW LONG IS CALIBRATION DAY?

The calibration workshop is a full day, from 9am - 5pm

• AS A JUDGE, DO I NEED TO STAY FOR THE ENTIRE COMPETITION?

Yes. Each judge will be requested to stay through the debriefing period with the competitors on Sunday afternoon.

• HOW DO I BECOME A HEAD JUDGE?

Head Judges are highly skilled and experienced judges, so step 1 is to start judging! If you’re already an experienced judge, Please email competitions@sca.coffee if you would like to become a Head Judge.

• HOW DO I KNOW IF I CAN JUDGE AT USBC, USRC, USBRC?

Judges for USBC, USRC, and USBrC must have judged at the CoffeeChamps Qualifying Competitions. Judges are invited based on competency exhibited during the Qualifying Competitions. The competition committee evaluates all sensory and technical judges during competitions. Judges who demonstrate a high level of competency will receive an invitation from the U.S. Competitions Working Group to judge at the USBC, USRC, or USBrC.

• WHY ARE JUDGES EVALUATED?

Judges are evaluated to determine whether they can participate in future competitions including USBC, USRC, and USBrC. Judges are evaluated to help determine areas of developmental opportunities for that judge and for future judging opportunities. The competitions committee strives to develop aspiring judges and ensure a fair judging environment for the competitors.

• WHAT CONSTITUTES A JUDGING CONFLICT?

A conflict interest is any situation where the competitor or judges have reason to believe that a judge, sensory or tech, cannot fairly evaluate a competitor. This includes coworkers, former and current employers/employees, and anyone you have had a close personal relationship with. When in doubt, consider the relationship as a judging conflict!

• AS A JUDGE, ARE ANY OF MY EXPENSES COVERED BY SCA?

No. Judging is a volunteer position. Due the sheer number of judges required for a competition, the SCA is unable to cover expenses.

• WHAT IF I’M A JUDGE BUT I’M NOT SCHEDULED FOR A DAY, WITH WHOM DO I SPEAK?

The U.S. Competitions Working Group attempts to offer as many judges as possible an opportunity to judge - so you may not be scheduled for a day of competition. After receiving the day’s judging schedule you may check in with a head judge to verify that you have not been scheduled.