CoffeeChamps Preliminaries: Frequently Asked Questions

Host Questions

Who can Host the CoffeeChamps Preliminaries?
Anyone! You can find out more information on Hosting & the Host Application here: More Information

Do Hosts have to be an SCA-Certified Lab?
No. Hosts may hold the event anywhere, it does not have to be a SCA-Certified Lab.

Does the equipment have to be the same equipment used at the Qualifying Competitions & USCC?
No. Hosts must supply only espresso machine(s) and espresso grinder(s) (for Barista), and hot water towers and coffee grinder(s) (for Brewers Cup). There are no requirements for make/model of the equipment.

How are the Head Judges selected for the Hosts?
Once Hosts have been selected, the National Competitions Manager will connect them with our Head Judge Group. The Group will help Hosts select Head Judges in their area who are available on the Host’s event weekend.

Is there a Hosting and/or application fee?
There is no application fee. There is also no fee owed to the SCA for Hosting. The only monetary requirement for the Host is bringing in a Head Judge to help run the competition.

Are Hosts able to also have competitors participate at the event they're hosting?
Yes, however we strongly encourage all Hosts to limit their competitor participation to 1 competitor per competition.

Will there be any support from SCA?
Yes! The National Competitions Manager & The U.S. Competitions Working Group will be the Host’s support system. They will be available to answer any questions Hosts may have, however they will not be involved in the logistical planning of the event

Can Hosts hold either a Brewers Cup Preliminary OR a Barista Preliminary as stand alone events?
Yes, Hosts may apply to hold a Brewers Cup Preliminary, a Barista Preliminary, or both.

How many volunteers will Hosts need?
The number of required volunteers will depend on the size of the Preliminary. Hosts will be provided with volunteer information in their Host Packet.

Competitor & Judge Questions

Do I have to compete or judge at the Preliminaries in order to compete or judge at a Qualifying Competition?
No. There will be Open Registration spots for the Qualifying Competitions for those competitors who do not place in the Top 8 (Barista) or Top 4 (Brewers Cup) at the Preliminaries.

Can competitors bring their own milk?
Yes. Hosts will also provide Whole Cow’s Milk.

Can Brewers Cup competitors bring their own water?
No. Section 5.5 Brew Water of the Brewers Cup Preliminaries Rules & Regulations, “Competitors must utilize the water provided by the competition for Service.”

What are the water specification for Host supplied water?
Total Chlorine/Chloramine: 0 (zero) mg/L

  • TDS: 150 mg/L (acceptable range 75­-250 mg/L)
  • Calcium Hardness: 4 grains or 68 mg/L (acceptable range 1­5 grains or 17­85 mg/L)
  • Total Alkalinity: 40 mg/L (acceptable range at or near 40 mg/L) pH: 7.0 (acceptable range 6.5 to 7.5) Sodium: 10 mg/L (acceptable range at or near 10 mg/L)

If a competitor advances from the Preliminaries to the Qualifying Competition, will they need to pay the Qualifying Competition registration fees?

How many competitors will there be at each of the Preliminaries?
There will be 12-36 Barista Competitors and 8-24 Brewers Cup Competitors per Preliminary, depending on the Host’s equipment and space.

If a competitor places in the Top 8 (Barista) or Top 4 (Brewers Cup), will they be able to choose at which Qualifying Competition they compete?
Yes. After the conclusion of the all Preliminaires, the National Competitions Manager will contact the winners & assist them with registering for the Qualifying Competitions.

Are companies limited to 1 competitor?
For the purpose of transparency and access to the competition, we have reduced the rules for regions and number of competitors per company. However, our intent is to have a broad representation of competitors from across the United States. We encourage you to hold In-House Competitions and to keep to one competitor per company per competition. For In-House Competition information please email

How will registration for the Preliminaires be conducted?
This will be determined by each Host. The National Competitions Manager will work with Hosts to create streamlined systems for registration.

Will competitors be able to use their own music?
This will be determined by each Host based on their available audio/visual systems.

How do competitors get a reserved spot for the CoffeeChamps Qualifying Competitions?
Barista competitors who place in the Top 8 and Brewers Cup competitors who place in the Top 4 will get a reserved spot at the Qualifying Competition of their choice. If the top placing competitors do not want their reserved spot it will released back to Open Registration.

Do winners at the Preliminaries get spots at United States Coffee Championships?
No. All competitors will still need to place in the Top 18 (Barista) or Top 12 (Brewers Cup) at a Qualifying Competition to compete at USCC.

Will the Preliminaries be open for the public to view?
Yes! Hosts are encouraged to invite the community.

Is there any discrepency with a business hosting a competition and then someone from that business competing at that location?
No. However the same standards of conflict will apply for judges. Judges should not judge employees, co-workers, partners, etc.

How many open registration spots will there be remaining once the Preliminary competitors have secured their spots?
That will depend on how many Preliminaries are held this summer. At the Qualifying Competition there will be 72 Brewers Cup competitor spots and 120 Barista competitors spots.

If a competitor does not make the Top 8 (Barista) or Top 4 (Brewers Cup), will they be able to do Open Registration for the Qualifying Competition?

Are scoresheets different from Qualifying Competition and in what way?
Yes, the scoresheets will be a modified version of the Qualifying Competition scoresheet. They are available to view on the U.S. CoffeeChamps website here.

Can competitors compete in more than one Preliminary?
Yes. Competitors may compete at as many Preliminaries as they would like. If the competitor places in the Top 8 (Barista) or Top 4 (Brewers Cup) more than once, they will still only receive one spot at a Qualifying Competition. Competitors may still only compete at one Qualifying Competition.

Where will the Preliminaires be held?
This will depend on where the Hosts are located. The goal is to have the Preliminaires all across the USA to reach as many competitors and judges as possible.

Who will run the Judges Workshop?
A Head Judge will be brought in to help the Host run the Judges Workshop & preside over the competition.

How will Hosts recruit judges?
Hosts will open judge registration to any person who would like to judge, as they will for competitor registration. They may also invite judges that were certified judges in the 2017. The National Competitions Manager will send each Host a list of available 2017 judges.

Are Preliminaries Region Based?
No. Competitors may compete at an Preliminary, anywhere in the USA.

For Barista Preliminaires, what beverages will be served?
Espresso and Milk Beverages.

Are Hosts responsible for promoting their event with their own marketing / branding materials?
Yes. However, the SCA will also help promote all of the Preliminaries on social media and the U.S. CoffeeChamps website.

What is the structure of the competition?


  • 15 minute preparation time
  • 7 minute competition time
  • 5 minute clean-up time
  • 2 Espressos
  • 2 Milk Beverages
  • 2 Sensory Judges
  • 1 Technical Judge
  • 1 Head Judge

Brewers Cup:

  • 7 minute preparation time
  • 7 minute competition time
  • 7 minute clean-up time
  • 2 Individual Brews
  • 2 Sensory Judges
  • 1 Head Judge

Once Hosts have been selected, how do competitors, judges, volunteers, and attendees contact the Host to sign up?

Each Host will have an event website or Facebook Event Page. All competitors, judges, volunteers, and attendees will be able to contact the Hosts through their website or event page.

Is there a competitor limit per Preliminary?
The number of competitors in each competition, at each Preliminary, will depend on the equipment and resources of the Host.
Barista: 12-36 competitors per Preliminary
Brewers Cup: 8-24 competitors per Preliminary

If a person has never judged before, can they attend the Judges Workshop and become a judge?
Yes! New judges are welcome at the Preliminaries.

Please note: in order to judge at the U.S. Coffee Championships (USCC) in Seattle, WA next April judges will need to judge at 1 or both of the CoffeeChamps Qualifying Competitions. Judges for the USCC will be invited out of the pool of judges from both Qualifying Competitions. Judging at a Qualifying Competition does not guarantee a spot to judge at USCC.

Are new judges welcome at the Preliminaires?
Yes! First time judges are encouraged to gain judging experience by participating in the Preliminaries.

Can people attend the Judges Workshop even if they don't end up being selected to judge?

Can Hosts solicit sponsorships to provide prizes for top competitors?
Yes! Hosts will receive a Host Packet, which will include information on sponsorships. All competitors, judges, volunteers, and attendees will be able to contact the Hosts through their website or event page.

When will competitor registration take place?
Hosts will determine when they open registration, we recommend open registration a minimum of 14 days before their Preliminary.

Will the Head Judge have training material to run the Judges Workshop?

What information will competitors get about the Compulsory Coffees?
The cupping/tasting will be blind. After competitors have selected their coffee, they will receive the origin country of their selection.

How long will the Preliminaires be?
1-3 days, depending on how the Host would like to run the competition.

Are Hosts in charge of media coverage?

Will the Qualifying Competition be Compulsory Coffee Only, too?
No. The Qualifying Competitions will be very similar to the 2017 season. Brewers Cup will have a Compulsory Round and an Open Service Round where competitors can showcase their own coffee. The Barista Competition will have just 1 Round. Barista competitors will bring their own coffee to the Qualifying Competitions & USBC.

Will volunteers be needed at the Preliminaries like as other competitions? Are Hosts responsible for recruiting volunteers?
Yes and yes. In the Host Packet, there will be a list of necessary volunteer roles that the Host will need to fill.