U.S. Coffee Championships Timeline



A group of dedicated volunteers organize the first North American Barista Championship at the SCAA Exposition in Anaheim, California; 27 baristas from around the United States compete.


The U.S. Barista Championship (USBC) becomes the representative body for the World Barista Championship in America. Local hosts and volunteers produce up to ten regional barista competitions (RBCs) across the country with SCAA support personnel each year feeding to the national event until 2009.


The World Barista Championship reorganizes as World Coffee Events, integrating the cup tasting and latte art competitions previously conducted by the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe. SCAA internalizes responsibility for the RBC event costs, planning, and production.


The number of regional events is consolidated from ten to six. The U.S. Brewers Cup Championship is introduced into the competition cycle.


The American competition platform is rebranded under the new name U.S. Coffee Championships (USCC). SCAA further consolidates the six RBC events into three “Big” events, in an effort to save the program as event costs significantly outpace revenues.

Community feedback following each Big Event is generally positive, but the disproportionate drain on resources for the SCAA becomes increasingly difficult to justify as funds must be reallocated from other association activities and programs to sustain the regional event program.


June: After great consideration and multiple attempts to restructure the regional event program in a financially sustainable way, SCAA announces the decision to institute the new process for qualifying USBC competitors. There is an immediate protest from the barista community against eliminating regional events.

SCAA staff meets with BGA leadership and volunteers from the SCAA Competition Committee at the annual Strategic Leadership Summit (SLS) to discuss how to move forward with a goal of greater transparency around the event production costs.

The BGAEC launches a Competitions Advisory Board consisting of SCAA staff and board members, representatives from the Competitions Committee, Sponsors, BGAEC and competitors is formed to an immediate solution for the 2015 competition cycle, as well as to explore the future of the event.

July: In response to the community request to better understand the RBC financial challenges, SCAA produces an infographic detailing the costs.

August: The Competitions Advisory Board, BGA Executive Council, SCAA Board and SCAA staff collaborate to design and announce one qualifying event to determine competitors advancing to national championships.

October: Qualifying event details for 2016 are announced by BGA Chair Lorenzo Perkins and SCAA Competitions Committee Chair Jessica Steffy.


January: The U.S. Cup Tasters Championship (USCTC) is held in conjunction with the Good Food Awards in San Francisco, California.

February: The USCC Qualifying Event takes place in Kansas City, Missouri. One hundred coffee professionals compete to qualify for the USBC and fifty for the U.S. Brewers Cup (USBrC) competition. Thirty six competitors from each competition are eligible to advance to the national competition.

April: The USBC and USBrC are held at the 2016 SCAA Expo in Atlanta, Georgia.

June: The Competitions Committee and the BGAEC reconvenes at the 2016 SCAA Strategic Leadership Summit to develop a long-term solution for regional qualification affecting the 2017 competition and beyond. The committee envisions working towards a program that delivers community focused, local barista competitions in underserved areas of the U.S. to make sure everyone has a fair opportunity to participate. The new event envisions having the potential to include twice as many competitors overall as they have previously while also accomplishing the purpose of narrowing the competitor pool leading up to the USCC, as well as working to create more entry points for baristas of all levels to practice their skills, engage with their fellow professionals and work towards the chance of competing at the national level.

July: A communication from Competitions Committee Chair Jess Steffy is sent to all members announcing a plan for the upcoming competition cycle, as well as the vision for the future of competitions.

October: Details regarding the 2017 competition season are announced, including the dates and locations for the Qualifying Competitions that will vet competitors for the U.S. Coffee Championships. These events, called CoffeeChamps, will include a variety of activities intended to engage the coffee community and enthusiasts. The two CoffeeChamps events will be held in Knoxville, TN and Austin, TX in January and February of 2017.