Dear Barista Guild of America Members,
In early September, World Coffee Events (WCE) & the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) announced that several of the 2018 world coffee competitions would take place in Dubai. We voiced our strong opposition towards this decision for its lack of consideration for our LGBTQ community. In response, the Barista Guild of America (BGA) Executive Council volunteered to participate on a special Review Panel created by the SCA Board of Directors (BOD) aimed at finding a meaningful resolution for the situation. We used this opportunity to express our members’ disappointment in the decision for host city, and their support to resolve by withdrawal. After reconsideration, the BOD approved a Deferred Candidacy Policy for competition events going forward. Simply and respectfully put, we are shocked and oppose this solution. We feel strongly that the lack of transparency around how these decisions were made, as well as how they were communicated, have both been significant disservices to our membership.
What influence can the BGA have?
Historically, BGA members did not have the eligibility to vote in the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Board of Directors elections, only the BGA Executive Council elections. Thus, BGA members did not have direct influence on the ultimate governance of the association.
To be very clear, this is no longer the case.
As the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) & SCAA were unified, all BGA memberships were converted to Individual ‘Barista Category’ Membership within the SCA – the greatest benefit of which is the “eligibility to vote in Board, National Chapter and Guild elections.” As a result, BGA members now have direct influence on who is responsible to represent their interests at the highest levels for the first time in our history. The Individual Barista Membership category makes up for approximately 35% of total SCA membership globally. YOU are a vitally important part of this Association and YOU have the power to create change within it.
- Board Representation
Although our members did not get to vote on the current Board of Directors, you did vote for us. Under the new bylaws, the SCA Board of Directors allocates one ex-officio voting Director position to a representative of the BGA and its BGE counterpart. Currently, this seat is held by Mr. Andrew Tolley. We strongly suggest reaching out with your thoughts and concerns to Mr. Tolley directly in hopes he may carry the fullest possible picture of our members’ values, best interests, and points of view into the board room on this and every other important decision.
- The Power of Convening
We are committed to amplify the voice of our membership with every opportunity. Many BGA members are expressing their desire to boycott the Association and/or competitions – we support you completely in whatever way you prefer to exercise your values & rights. We also recognize that the competition stage is a meaningful platform and an important vehicle for the growth of many professional baristas. Above all, let’s not lose sight of the tremendous impact of our convening power. We are a wide, diverse, and fervently creative network. Let’s use every opportunity to collaborate for the benefit of our industry and communities.
Most importantly we want to ensure that you are aware of your rights as members of the SCA, and how you can best participate in the democratic process this organization is beholden to. You can take meaningful action the following ways:
- Creating Structural Changes
We must be proactive in creating systemic change within our industry. We desire to be inclusive, see diverse leadership, and develop equitable paths to participation in our shared events and education. Without giving marginalized groups power to affect that change, we will continue to miss the mark. That is why we have decided, even before SCA’s recent announcement, to establish an EDI (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) Committee within the BGA. We are in the very early stages – exact structure and timeline are still being determined. We would love to hear your thoughts on how this committee might be structured to best serve our membership. We hope this committee will allow more voices a seat at the table and that it will be a vehicle for change within our guild, and beyond. If you think this is something you would like to be a part of developing, please reach out to Immediate Past Chair Laila Ghambari.
Barista Executive Council:
Todd Mackey, Laila Ghambari, Sarah Leslie, Gabe Smentek, Liz Dean, Kathie Hilberg, Mark Hundley, Matthew Scott, David Fasman, & Brent Hall (Contact at: BGAEC@sca.coffee)