Rules & Regulations

Links are temporarily broken — please use this link for 2023 R&R or email [email protected] for other documents.

Today, the Specialty Coffee Association released updated rules & regulations for the 2023 World Barista Championship (WBC). These updates mark the largest competition changes since before the pandemic, opening up new service possibilities for competitors and major changes in how judges score and evaluate performances.

All World Coffee Championships (WCC) rules & regulations updates are overseen by the Competitions Strategic Committee – a volunteer leadership group focused on evolving the WCCs in line with strategic goals. Many of these changes introduced today were planned or in progress prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the CSC’s work here.

The 2023 WBC updates introduce two new types of scoring scales, alongside the traditional 6-point scores. These scores will help our competitions better align with where our coffee value assessment systems are headed. There have also been efforts to adjust the weighting of different categories, to better reflect the skills and areas of focus for the competitions. In addition, two exciting new updates are being introduced to the WBC. The milk beverage course can now be prepared using plant-based or other animals’ milk. Additionally, world competitors will have the option of brewing their espresso using a range of group head temperatures. Details on the WBC Teams Competition and WBC Team Bar have been memorialized in the rules document, and the nine station layout options return in 2023. Scoresheets have been re-designed for clarity and ease of use.

Updated Rules & Regulations have been released for the 2021 World Coffee Championships; the World Barista Championship, World Brewers Cup, World Cup Tasters Championship, and Cezve/Ibrik Championship. You can find the rules linked below, which are primarily focused on COVID-19-related precautions, which have been introduced to facilitate better logistics for competitors, coaches, judges, and volunteers at the event, hosted at the Specialty Coffee Association World of Coffee Show from June 23-26, 2021.

Across the four competitions, a number of changes have been introduced to facilitate safer judge evaluation of drinks, while ensuring that local social distancing guidelines are maintained. Additionally, existing rules that apply to Competition Bodies (CB) have been centralized and clarified in a new section, covering variations to the competition format, and the appeals process at CB level.

As a result of the COVID-related changes to Head Judge tasting at the World Barista Championship, the Rules & Regulation committee have clarified a number of existing rules on sensory judge evaluation to encapsulate the current scoring process more accurately.

We understand that these rules updates are being launched in an uncertain time for competitors around the world — we have made no changes that impact the total scoring or weighting for any championship in order to minimize the impact for competitors while providing increased precautions at the WCC event in Athens.

The Rules & Regulations for each of the World Coffee Championships is overseen by individual committees of ex-competitors, judges, staff, and other experts from across the globe who volunteer their time to help make sure all of the competitions continue to grow and evolve, and the Rules & Regulations along with them. These committees oversee yearly review and update processes, and this fall the committees were dissolved and are now being re-formed to bring in new members via a public solicitation process.

Due to the rapidly approaching date for the 2019 World Barista Championship and World Brewers Cup in Boston, April 10-14th, the Rules and Regulations used for both of these competitions will be the same as the 2018 rules, with some very minor typo and spelling fixes.

The membership of the individual competition committees are being confirmed at the moment, but the over-arching Competition Strategic Committee has already been hard at work over the last few months developing a strategic plan to guide all of the competitions into the future. The Competition Strategic Committee is a volunteer leadership team designed to address competition needs and questions at the highest levels, interfacing with the SCA Board of Directors and other internal and external groups. You can find the membership of the Competition Strategic Committee here.

The World Barista Championship and World Brewers Cup committees will be focused on producing new rules for 2020, giving enough time to explore deeper changes. The full 2019 Rules & Regulations for both competitions are available below, and if you would like to get involved in Rules & Regulations work, you can express you interest by filling out this form.