ASCA lays out plans for 2020 Nationals

ASCA 2020 Nationals plans

The Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) has revealed three scenarios under which it could host the 2020 Condesa Co lab Australian Coffee Championships, in a Youtube livestream on 14 July.

ASCA President Kieran Westlake discussed the decisions behind these plans, after which Vice-President Bruno Maiolo detailed rules changes affecting judges that would come into effect at the competition.

“As an association, we’re really fortunate that we’ve been able to build a good financial metric that has allowed us to weather this storm as best we can… It’s been a journey, and as you can understand, public policy and government policy has been evolving ever since,” Kieran said.

“This is still moving sands and I will leave you guys to have an educated guess of where we land because we still don’t know 100 per cent. What we can do is provide you dates and certainty around one of those three things being delivered.”

Scenario one covers if the 2020 World Barista Championship and World Brewers Cup are still held at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) from 3 to 6 November. If this occurs, the Australian Coffee Championships will need to occur six to eight weeks beforehand. Kieran says if this were to occur, the week of 14 September is most likely and the competition will take place in a closed environment.

We’d only have competitors, sponsors, and our judges onsite, plus a film crew,” he says.

“It would be livestreamed… and we’d be able to do post-production with showreals of all of our competitors. We’d be able to bookend that with all of our sponsors, put that on Youtube, and have our audience, members, people part of our newsletter, and globally look at our competitors and the quality of the competitions we put on.”

Scenario two covers if the 2020 World Coffee Championships are cancelled due to international travel bans but MICE still runs as a domestic event.

“We’d have our nationals at that event as per normal and would have a small component of that as a livestream with professional photographers and film crews coming in as well to do that to the best ability we could,” Kieran says.

“[It would be] very similar to what our normal nationals would be, at the centre of a stage surrounded by a trade event.”

Scenario three is in place should hosting the competition at MICE not be feasible. In this case, a digital-only nationals similar to scenario one will be held but at the dates MICE would have taken place, from 3 to 6 November. This is to provide competitors with more clarity around what dates to work towards.

“It provides a great opportunity for our members and sponsors to really get ASCA’s brand out there in the silence and void of content being created globally at the moment. I liken it to The Last Dance and the extra viewership it had compared to any broadcast that ESPN or Netflix had when they first released that documentary. It outshone with 1200 per cent more viewership,” Kieran says.

“From a visual point of view, think of the Olympics and the way they run. You see someone warm up, you see someone compete, you do an interview, you skip to an ad, [and so on].”

Should scenario one or three take place, the nationals will be held on the eastern seaboard, at either Queensland, New South Wales, or Victoria, depending on venue quality, logistics, and travel costs for judges and competitors.

Should the 2020 World Coffee Championships be cancelled, the 2020 Australian Champions will represent Australia at the 2021 world events.

“It’s really exciting when these things happen to find something positive out of such negative news. One of these for us is the ability to change our cycle,” Kieran says.

“We will move our entire calendar into sync, essentially, with the Chinese competitions. The reasons for that are multiple, but for me the most pertinent is the fact our national champion will get nine to 12 months of representing Australia, throughout Australia. Our sponsors will get the benefit of that person being the champion for that amount of time.”

At the competitions themselves, rule changes have been made to improve the hygiene of the competitions. Bruno stressed these do not impact how competitors should perform their routines.

“The purpose of the new judging protocols that have been handed out by [World Coffee Events] and relevant authorities are there to protect us all. With that in mind, the purpose of this is to minimise cross contamination during the competition, in particular while judging,” Bruno said.

Head Judges of the Australian Barista and Coffee in Good Spirits Championships will no longer drink from each Sensory Judges’ cups. Competitors do not make extra drinks for the Head Judge, who’ll instead be more mindful of the technical evaluation to explain inconsistencies in judging.

“The best of the best have been hand selected to judge our national competitions, so rest assured even though the head judge is not tasting your drinks, the sensory judges on those panels will be extremely well calibrated and have plenty of experience under their belts,” Bruno said.

Brewers Cup Head Judges will use ASCA-provided spoons to scoop four sips out of the drinks supplied to sensory judges to place in their own sample bowls.

Latte Art and Cup Tasters will proceed as normal. The Roasting Championships will proceed as normal, with judges using modified Specialty Coffee Association protocols.

ASCA will provide more detail as it becomes available.

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