BACC Town Hall Minutes

On November 28, 2017, the BACC held a community Town Hall regarding the recent SCA Board announcement on Dubai & the Deferred Candidate Policy. These are the recorded minutes.

Date: 11/28/17

Location: Equator Coffees and Teas 222 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94105-3106

Time: 6:30pm – 9 pm

BACC Board Attendees: 3

Amy Ball from WCE in attendance

Total attendees: 14



  • Introduction, thank you to attendees, introductions of moderators and guests. Read guiding question:
    How can the SCA and WCE promote inclusivity and opportunities for all members of the global specialty coffee community?
  • Read the BACC Code of Conduct
    Our events are dedicated to providing a harassment-free event experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), or technology choices. We do not tolerate harassment of event participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any event venue, including talks, workshops, parties, Twitter and other online media. Event participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the events without a refund (when applicable) at the discretion of the event organizers.
  • Alert attendees that we will be taking photos and minutes. If an attendee is uncomfortable for any reason, please alert moderators to opt out from appearing in published photos.
  • Outline SCA decision and current events
    (from previous newsletter) On November 9, 2017, the Specialty Coffee Association announced their long-awaited decision on suspending the awarding of coffee tournaments to the UAE in 2018. Their decision to maintain the awarded championships came with the announcement of a “Deferred Candidacy” policy. The events in Dubai specifically were met with protest from specialty coffee professionals around the world due to the nation’s history of slave labor and LGBTQIA abuses.

    According to this policy, competitive members of the community that feel threatened by attending SCA events can defer participation to the following year. This policy does not consider judging or vendor membership.

    The BACC has decided, along with Sprudge Media Network, to resign support of the SCA and related events. According to community by-laws, the BACC strives to “support, empower, and foster a community for ALL of the coffee professionals in the Bay Area through educational, social, and networking events.” Policies designed to limit opportunities to members of the community based on their “nationality, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual identity/orientation, health, bereavement, or force majeure.” are not welcome and will not be supported.


*Any lines/paragraphs that start with Amy are paraphrases of her words. Other paragraphs are general discussions from the group.

BACC Guided Discussion

Does anyone here feel that the deferment policy is problematic? General yes consensus.

What is the function of the policy? They’re two separate things. Seen as workaround for Dubai choice, but when asking SCA, they say it’s not.

Amy*: [described history of WCE] When Board meeting was held in Dublin, SCA & WCE voted on where things are held. Two cities held proposals, one being Dubai. We don’t announce cities until there’s a contract. Cost of breaking contract? [undisclosed] Announcement language was poor & ill-timed. Guts of policy aren’t filled out.

What are the other blind spots do we (WCE and SCA) have? The DCP was brought up as inspired by issue, but not necessarily to address it. Policy is a reaction to the reaction.

Board of Directors are like the owners of the company, but they’re repping the membership. They can decide on Board level what to do in Dubai.

There’s an observation of everyone talking about the subject as if it’s affecting only one aspect.


When do you find out where locations are and when do you find out it’s set up?

Amy: Once contract is signed, it’s publicly released.

As far as the SCA Board is concerned, there’s been a diversity of opinion expressed. There were people who said it was overblown, that there’s no safe place for everybody. This is a liberal American issue.



We discussed the recently released FAQs.

Not very clear on giving reasons for deferring, yet mentions that you can’t give a financial reason. What will disclosure look like? Will it be checking the Other box for “personal reasons”? Could people take advantage of a loophole- see who wins in X country and decide to defer?

Because national bodies fund the champions’ trips, there was concern that they would be asked to cover two champions’ cost in the same year.

Amy: SCA is putting money into financial help for sending the deferred person next year.

Can you defer multiple times (yes) and what happens if many defer? (will have to figure out)


Why do locations move?

Amy: Mostly because locations want to move, the championships are very expensive to host. Big investment in creating environment for championships.

There are different coffee communities around the world who want to host the events. For Dubai, the city is seen as: “We are the gateway to the region.” (e.g. like Tokyo is of East Asia) Proximity to these events creates a different sort of access and inclusion- especially for volunteers and judges in the area.

Italy has some of the worst documented issues against the LGBTQ community. When Colombia was announced for a world event, WCE issued safety warning.


How many events have already happened in Dubai?

Amy: SCAA participated in their trade show for the last 6 years. All-Stars hosted previously. When SCAA had training programs- teacher teams were sent there.

This has been going on for a long time – why are we not talking about it?

These are opportunities for training to happen for SCAA- means membership & more trainings. Volunteers have either self-eliminated and/or person offering training opportunities to trainers have been selecting. Reasons aren’t given for not going.

The announcement is seen as activating a certain population that’s concerned.

Potential of anti-Arab and/or anti-Muslim sentiment. People in Dubai are out, but not as out as in the US.


Safety concerns

Providing travel recommendations may not be enough. No one should be telling someone that they should go. These are individual decisions where risks have to be assessed and weighed.

Oversimplification of safety around the world has been off-putting to non-US community.

A few different progressive values that are coming into conflict: 1) Identifying as an ally; 2) Global diversity perspective. I have to show support to the community and the people I care about. If I have to pick a side, I’ll pick the LGBT community.

International sentiment: Dubai laws are messed up, not okay, and safety is important. However, this is how we live our life, we know how to manage traveling. “This is what it’s like to travel to different countries and live in the world.”

Some people don’t have the luxury of passing.

Check privilege- we get to say anything we want, all the time [in the Bay Area].



Deferment- if there are policies & language in place where you don’t have to out someone, then that would be better.

What makes me nervous for protests: “We’re not going to participate, because this organization doesn’t reflect me.” But then it’ll continue to not reflect.

US is not a national chapter. FAQ answer is not an answer to how the US chapter will work. US championship is the only national championship that WCE manages, which is awkward at best.

SCA hired PR firm? Why not be transparent? How much is fear of being sued or from breaking confidentiality laws?

Looks like the Board is shut off. First big thing the merged organization has come across and they’re now divided (but not publicly saying they are divided).

They keep reacting to issues instead of being preemptive.

Even if it’s only 20% of members who are angry, it’s still a problem. In a cafe context, if 20% of coffee customers are angry, that’s a huge issue.

What will it look like if we continue to participate, e.g. our companies do decide to keep going to competition?


Next steps

Creating political action group or council that can help mobilize community members to be voted onto the Board.

Member of BGA since 2014- renouncing membership. If this is the one thing I can do as a cis, heterosexual man, I can’t be part of an organization that doesn’t have my friends’ backs. I don’t want to give them my money.

Someone else: membership on hold- have not renewed. You can’t contribute if you’re not a member. This reaction would not have happened a few years ago. With the merger, this is the first time that I don’t feel connected.

I think about education as a whole different sector that’s thriving. Sustainability council is doing great things. We can be a community by ourselves- what part of SCA do you want to be a part of? I need to do work on which part I want to fit into.

Board has not done an official vote on the Dubai decision.

Write in:, they’re reading all of the emails.

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