Recommendations of the Events Site Criteria Ad Hoc Committee

Over the first quarter of 2018, dozens of volunteer coffee professionals from around the globe have been working together through the ad hoc committees announced by the SCA Board of Directors in December. These committee members have connected on a weekly basis via conference calls, email, and Slack channels to revise the SCA’s criteria for selecting event sites and to develop the guidelines for the Deferred Candidacy Policy.

This page outlines the guidelines and recommendations of the Events Site Criteria (ESC) Ad Hoc Committee. To learn about the work of the Deferred Candidacy Policy Ad Hoc Committee, visit this page on the World Coffee Events website. The work of both committees are complimentary so we definitely recommend taking a look at both pages.

These pages are designed to be very brief introductions to the recommendations of the committees, which were presented to members on April 6th in this webinar. To read the in-depth documents produced by each committee and the provide comments and feedback, email us at The documents are undergoing peer review and will be published in June.

The Objective of the ESC Ad Hoc Committee

The ESC ad hoc committee came together for the first time in January 2018. The need from SCA members around the world was clear— when selecting sites for events, how do we balance the occasionally competing values of serving a global coffee community while considering human rights and the safety of individuals? In other words, how could the committee enable the SCA to fulfill its nonprofit mission to support coffee communities in every corner of the world while staying true to the Core Values in an imperfect world?

The group, composed of members from all over the world, knew that answering this question would not be easy and what the solution would like was not completely clear. So, with all of this in mind, the group set off to do research and to meet regularly to engage in the difficult discussions needed to help answer the question.

The Solution: New Site Criteria and Core Values

The work of the ad hoc committee, presented to members via webinar on April 6th, resulted in a two tools utilizing 21 new criteria and Core Values that SCA events staff and other leadership should use when considering sites for future events. The set of criteria were created using the SCA Core Values and resources from the International Congress and Convention Association and the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.

ESC members also recognized a clear distinction between SCA events that are “Compulsory” versus those that are not, such as an event specific to a window in time or requiring prior qualification, as these events are not substitutable for one another in the same way community events are.  Compulsory events typically happen on an annual cycle with limited participation, which is a primary driver of their value. Therefore, sites that are associated with Compulsory Events are held to a different standard than those events that are optional to attend or substitutable for one another throughout the year or from year to year (examples: networking events, educational events, etc.)

The New Site Criteria and Guidelines

Here are the new site criteria, listed from critical to somewhat important, as ranked by the committee members. These new criteria will be used by SCA staff when selecting new sites, alongside existing logistical and financial criteria.

These following top three criteria are deemed critical for any event with compulsory attendance and most important to all other events.

#1: What is the political/economic stability of the destination?

When selecting sites for any events with compulsory attendance, decision makers must evaluate current events that could include catastrophes, political instability, or other serious conditions that may put visitors at risk. Staff are encouraged to evaluate whether the risk is localized or widespread and to speak with locals to evaluate the potential impact on attendees.

#2: What are the available protections for individuals / human rights?

When selecting sites for any events with compulsory attendance, decision makers must evaluate the availability of protections for individual and human rights in the area and consider communities that may incur real or perceived threats. Additionally, it’s important to consider the host’s stance on ensuring individual safety, especially for marginalized communities.

#3: Has a review of potentially exclusionist local laws or policies been conducted?

In addition to a review of individual/human rights protections, decision makers must review any potentially exclusionist local laws or policies that may affect marginalized communities.

For criteria 1-3, the committee encourages the use of the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for additional support. It’s important to note that the ESC ad hoc committee provided recommendations to the SCA’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) Task Force to provide more resources on human rights for staff to further support these top three criteria. The ED&I Task Force is in the process of being formed and more information will be available soon.

Next, we’ll review the criteria the ad hoc committee deemed most important for any event.

#4: Does the site or event support SCA’s Mission and Purpose?

The SCA’s mission is to engage, inspire, and expand a sustainable global specialty coffee trade through leadership in events, education, and research and our purpose is to #makecoffeebetter. Decision makers are encouraged to consider the mission of the hosting organization, any initiatives they may have in place, and their affiliation and support of third parties. Does the potential site and host support our mission and purpose?

#5: Does the site support one or more of the SCA’s Strategic Themes?

  • Capacity Building
  • Member Engagement
  • Community Building
  • Education
  • Knowledge Building
  • Leadership Development
  • Strengthen Coffee Supply

#6: Does the site or event meet the needs of key sponsors?

This one is a simply consideration but an important one. Events that bring the community together and provide important platforms and resources to the community require the support of sponsors, so the committee believes it is necessary to take the needs of sponsors into consideration as well.

Next, we’ll review the criteria the committee deemed very important for any event.

#7: Does the site or event support the SCA’s “hybrid association” model?

As part of the initial research conducted, the ad hoc committee identified that the SCA was an association that represents both individuals/professionals as well as trade/businesses, both of which have needs that may be opposed at times. Does the potential location serve the needs of trade members through business opportunities and individual members who are seeking professional growth?

#8: Is there growth potential in hosting the event at this site?

Will the event or location help communities, companies, and the association to grow both financially and in terms of membership?

#9: Does the site or event support a new generation of coffee leaders?

Can the potential location or host foster a new generation of diverse, empowered, and capable coffee leaders?

#10: What is the potential for diversity and inclusion?

Does the potential location or host support the SCA’s Core Values to promote diversity and inclusion, as listed in the SCA’s Core Values?

#11: What is the strength of the local team?

Are SCA members and/or suppliers based locally at the potential location? Is there a local SCA Chapter in the area?

#12: Is there a link to culture and history of the SCA or the coffee industry in general

What is the mission and history of the hosting organization? What’s their connection to the history of coffee and that of the SCA and its membership?

#13: Is the site a new location for the Association?

The next six criteria below were identified as “important” by the ESC ad hoc committee for any event. These last few points are fairly straightforward so we’ve simply listed them out below. They are:

#14: Is the potential venue in a new or “hot” destination?

#15: Is there strong local expertise and availability of local speakers, sponsors, and volunteers?

#16: Would the site provide support for a bidder facing particularly strong challenges?

#17: Is the bidder an active members of the association?

#18: Is the bidder or site popular in the community? 

#19: Consider sympathy or respect for a bidder or destination that has previously bid and lost.

Finally, these final two points were deemed as “somewhat important” by the committee:

#20: Does this potential host have a link to an important major public event?

#21: Would hosting this event help the SCA respond to pressure from similar service providers?

Utilizing SCA's Core Values for Site Selection

SCA’s values statement is one of our most important assets: it helps SCA and our members communicate what is important, and sets clear expectations about how SCA’s staff and volunteer leaders make decisions. The ESC recommended that SCA events staff utilize the Core Values as part of the decision-making process, in addition to the 21 criteria listed above. 

Find our six Core Values on our About page here.

Thank You

Thank you for taking the time to read the recommendations of the ESC ad hoc committee. We want to thank every member of our ad hoc committees for the hard work they put into this work. SCA staff have already started using these new site criteria as they select sites for events and we are very thankful to our committee members for coming together to make our processes better.

Once again, these pages are designed to be very brief introductions to the recommendations of the committees, which were presented to members on April 6th in this webinar. To read the in-depth documents produced by each committee and the provide comments and feedback, email us at The documents are undergoing peer review and will be published in June.

Get in Touch

Do you have questions or comments about the work of the ad hoc committees and task force? Email us at