Boston WCC Competitor FAQs

Photo: Liz Chai

Are you competing in 2019? We’ve gathered answers to some frequently asked questions, and some handy resources to help your competition experience, and your trip to Boston!

Is there something you need that isn’t listed on the resource list? Have a question about public transportation? Want to know where to find the best baked beans in the city? Email [email protected], and we’ll look into it!


A: The Boston World Coffee Championships are hosted at the Specialty Coffee Expo, held at the Boston Exhibition & Convention Center.

Street address:

415 Summer St
MA 02210

A: The venue is well connected to public transport, and a 5-10 minute taxi ride from Logan International Airport. Detailed public transport information can be found here.

A: WBC Orientation is on Wednesday April 10th from 11:30 AM – 1:00PM, at the WBC stage. WBrC Orientation is on Thursday April 11th from 8:00 – 9:30 AM, at the WBRC stage. Attending the orientation meeting is mandatory: competitors who do not attend the orientation meeting may be disqualified.

A: The backstage area may only be accessed after your competitor orientation (see above for times). The backstage area will not be available to competitors before this time.

A: You can access an overview schedule here. As we get closer to the event, a more detailed schedule with routine times will be available and published online.

A: You can find detailed information about provided equipment in the WBC and WBrC rules sections below.

A: To enter the United States of America, some of you might need a visa. To check if you need a visa, look for your national US Embassy here. You do not need a visa if your country is a member of the Visa Waiver Program (in this case, you only need to apply for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, ESTA). You can check if your country is part of the Visa Waiver Program here.

NB: WCE does not have control over the visa issuing process and cannot guarantee a positive outcome, so please be sure to plan your visit early to avoid any issues.

A: WCE can provide an invitation letter for the competitor, their coach, and a translator, if they are using one. To request an invitation letter, you can email [email protected] with the full name, email, and passport scans for each person. Please remember that WCE do not have control over the visa issuing process and cannot guarantee a positive outcome—it is vital that you begin your preparations for a visa as soon as possible.

All other requests for invitation letters can be handled through the Expo website. Once you purchase a ticket and complete registration, an invitation letter will be emailed to you.

A: Please email [email protected] and we can provide this information to you.

A: Competitors will be receiving a code via email, that they can use to register for a free ticket. If you also include a coach in competitor registration, they will also receive a registration code. Additional supporters and coaches will need to purchase tickets directly from Specialty Coffee Expo, here.

A: Backstage access is for the competitor, coach, and one helper/translator. Each team will be allowed a total of three people (including competitor) backstage. Competitors will be given vests that will give their team members backstage access, and they can rotate as they wish. Any teams found in violation of this may be subject to disqualification.

If you plan to have anyone capturing photos or videos either backstage or onstage, they are required to fill out the press coverage application form.

A: The Deferred Candidacy Policy covers the circumstances in which competitors can delay their place in the competition until the following year.

A: SCA have discounted hotel rates on venues that are convenient to the convention center. You can find more info on the Boston Hotel Accommodation section here.

WBC Rules Questions

A: Provided equipment at the WBC includes a Victoria Arduino Black Eagle, Mahlkönig Peak and the EK43 grinders, Urnex Cafiza® Espresso Machine Cleaning Powder and Puro® Espresso Machine Cleaning Powder. Water filtration will be provided by Pentair/Everpure.

A: The Rules & Regulations specify that the same preparation space and tools available to all competitors, but in this case the committee has determined that a platform/step can be accommodated for reaching the equipment, since the intention is not to limit accessibility. If you require a platform/step, please be sure to bring your own as one will not be available otherwise.

A: No, any physical modification of the sponsored grinder or espresso machine is not allowed.

A: Automatic tamping machines are allowed in the competition. They will be counted as one of the two allowable electrical devices.

A: Coffee may be roasted in parchment. However, coffee may not be ground or brewed with parchment as it is considered an additive as laid out in rule 2.2.B and 2.2.C.

A: Yes. Foam can be created in this way, as long as the competitor steams the milk using the provided machine according to the technical protocol in the rules.

A: For all courses and rounds, regardless of drink or ingredient, only the sponsor-provided espresso machine may be used.

A: Adding water to the basket starts an extraction separate from the extraction initiated by the group head. This would count as more than one continuous extraction, and would not be allowed.

A: The rules state that no alcohol is permitted in the signature drink. To verify this, the Head Judge would reference the ingredients from which the drink is made, including the solution. If no ingredient packaging is available the decision would be at the discretion of the Head Judge, who can penalize accordingly.

A: As long as the provided grinder is used onstage during competition time, this will be allowed.

A: Each morning, Victoria Arduino technicians will check every machine for calibration. Data from each machine will be recorded and checked by WCE Staff. No other data or information will be collected or recorded using any other equipment or sources.

A: 20g ridge-less VST baskets, and shower screens as below will be used in competition.

A: A: You must choose from one of the 9 configurations listed in the 2019 WBC Rules & Regulations, and place it within the 7m x 7m square during table set-up time. Any of the asymmetrical table configurations can be inverted or mirrored. If you would like to place your table off-center, you may do so with the assistance of the Head Runner. Please note that competitors are responsible for ensuring that their presentation table is at least .3m (12 inches) from the edge of the square.

A: Outside of table-set up time, you can adjust your table during your preparation time. The Head Runner will not be able to assist, and you are responsible for ensuring it complies with the rules.

A: To facilitate multiple overlapping performances performances in Round One, competitors will be able to use their own music during the Semi-Final and Finals rounds only.

Rule 5.4 Competition Music

Competitors may bring their own music on a CD, MP3 player, USB drive, or smart phone for the Semi-Final and Final rounds of competition. If a smart phone is used, it must have 3.5mm aux output (no adapters), be unlocked (no screen passcode), and be in both Airplane & Do Not Disturb mode. Music may not contain profanity, otherwise the competitor’s score on “Presentation: professionalism” may be penalized on all sensory score sheets. Competitors must mark their music clearly with their name. It is the competitor’s responsibility to give the WBC Stage Manager or Audio Visual staff their music prior to the start of the competition. It is also the competitor’s responsibility to retrieve the music from the WBC Stage Manager or Audio Visual staff after the competition. Media that are not retrieved will be discarded after the competition.

A: Smallwares will not be available backstage, but most espresso bars sell coffee related smallwares.

Competition Experience

A: WCE has developed a water specification for competition, which will be delivered by Pentair/Everpure.

A: Yes, Victoria Arduino will operate the Champions’ Hub pre-practice program. More information on registration coming soon.

A: Standard power in the US is 120 V, 60 Hz. Both type A and B sockets are generally available in most places. Standard power will be offered on-stage and in the backstage area.

A: Public Transit has a comprehensive service in Boston—it’s called the “T” and is operated the MBTA. The Red Line (subway) runs close to Expo, as well as across town to Cambridge/Somerville. If you plan on using public transport heavily, picking up a Plastic “Charlie Card” from a teller is recommended. These can be reloaded with cash at any machine, once you have one.  The next best option is Uber/ Lyft. If you do plan on driving, navigation can be difficult, and parking is also expensive in the city.

A: There are two local dairies that are popular with coffee shops: Highlawn Farms (they do their own delivery), Mapleline Farms (delivered through Shirazi Distributing). The best grocery store whole milk in Boston is the Stonyfield Organic, which can be found in most places.

A: Restaurant Depot (Everett), China Fare (Cambridge), The Boston Shaker (Somerville), or Crate + Barrel (Back Bay, Boston City), will all stock glassware and dish items, but less niche coffee-specific items.

A: If you need dry ice, it can be ordered from a third party vendor — Acme Ice Co. or Brookline Ice Co.

WBrC Rules Questions

A: WBrC Qualified Equipment includes the Ditting 804 LAB SWEET, Urnex Cafiza® Espresso Machine Cleaning Powder and Puro® Espresso Machine Cleaning Powder. Water filtration will be provided by Pentair/Everpure.