“Everyone is welcome. We welcome everyone.” This simple principle has been a Blue Bottle touchstone from the very beginning. True hospitality isn’t incremental; it isn’t something that can be doled out to some and denied to others. If we embrace hospitality, we have to advocate for every member of our community, whether or not we as individuals are being directly marginalized in a given situation. Hospitality is a commitment to look out for each other.
The SCA’s recent decision to hold upcoming world coffee competitions in Dubai, where human rights abuses and LGBTQIA discrimination are well documented—as well as its subsequent choice to pursue a lackluster and, frankly, offensive deferred candidacy policy—challenges our value system. It contradicts what we know to be true for our community: first, that in order to thrive everyone must feel safe, and second, that the coffee industry is a community with diverse participants who will be adversely affected by the SCA’s actions and responses.
We spoke to the SCA and expressed our concern. We also offered our financial assistance to move the competitions to a location where our baristas could be assured safety. But we have not yet received a response that reflects our values. So, we have decided to withdraw our membership.
In tandem with Sprudge, the Barista Guild of America, and LGBTQIA-identified individuals within the industry who have spoken out, we hope our withdrawal is a reminder to the SCA that hospitality and community should never be compromised.
We remain interested in restoring our partnership with the SCA, provided that the safety and equality of every single member of our community is treated as an urgent priority and ultimately guaranteed.
Read more from James Freeman, our founder and CPO, on Sprudge.