Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 58 of 109

59 Throughout this time, and even before as a home barista, I read ev- erything I could fi nd about coffee. I was particularly in love with some of the deep writing about coffee's journey from origin, the differences you can create through roasting and brewing, and the way coffee has connected people across the world—not only historically, but in the present day. Through my fellow managers in that business, I became aware of an opportunity to work for a large national company doing training and machine care. This role allowed me the opportunity to grow, including being exposed to competition and the beginnings of the coffee scene in London. I worked for that company for a couple of years; they were in- credibly supportive in allowing me to grow and develop, and again, I progressed pretty quickly to a head-of-coffee role there. But the nature of a big organization with very commercial customers limited my ability to access good coffee. So when a friend introduced me to Steve [Leighton] and we got talking, I was super excited to have an opportunity to engage with better-quality coffee and build a new role for myself in a smaller company. CR: Can you tell me more about your time at Hasbean? DH: I started working for Steve in 2010, taking over the entirety of Hasbean's wholesale business because it was something Steve found challenging and unexciting, but that I found much more interesting. At that time, our wholesale business was very small, but our brand and the quality of coffee—both sourcing and roasting skill—meant that there was a growing market with which we could engage. I started in a fl exible role where I did a bit of almost everything: raised invoices, held tastings, installed machines, fi xed broken pumps, and did a lot of driving. As we established a stronger business, we eventually took on some good people to share the load. Right now we still have a small team working on wholesale, with Katie [Glover-Price] doing most of the paperwork and Sonali [Tailor] leading training and support. People usually refer to Hasbean as a "big" company, but really, it is the outsize contribution of a small team working really hard that gives us the appearance of being much bigger than we really are. CR: You won this year's U.K. Barista Championship in your ninth time competing. What was that long journey like? DH: Barista competition began as a way of developing my technical skills and making friends within the community. The fi rst year I com- peted, I met and became close friends with people who have shaped my career along the way—John Gordon, Jess MacDonald, Estelle Bright, Mat North—and those relationships and that community became a key part of why competition remained important to me. Over the fi rst few years I progressed a lot, and that progression enabled other changes, such as moving to Hasbean and tasting and working with better coffee. But as I put more time in to competition and felt my routines getting stronger, my position at the end of each year began to go down, and that was initially a hard thing to accept. After my results in 2012, I decided to stop competing, thinking my journey there was over. As I watched my friends compete the follow- ing year, I remembered what it was about competition that excited me beyond the scores. Watching John [Gordon] compete so professionally in Melbourne [in the 2013 World Barista Championship] made me want to try a different approach. The next few years, I was able to compete in a different way, and with a much more emotionally positive approach: It became less about winning and more about developing my skills and knowledge. That's not to say that placing second was never demoralizing over those three years, but I was really proud to develop new presentations each year, all of which I felt were valuable not only then, but also in letting me develop skills and ideas that have fed into what we presented in South Korea. CR: Tell me about your experience at the WBC in Seoul. DH: From the moment we won the nationals, we were aware there was a one-off opportunity to stand on a stage that has shaped my ideas about coffee. It was important to me that we worked hard to present something I found interesting, that I pushed myself by not making coffee the way I usually do, and that because you can't control the results, we would do our best to make it an experience we could learn from, no matter what else happened. There were lots of constraints on my time because of my other responsibilities, and I was really lucky that Steve offered to support me—whatever I needed—throughout those weeks. Not only that, but some of those constraints forced us to build a routine without the potential distraction of spending lots of time working on ideas we wouldn't be able to present in those 15 minutes [the allotted length of performance time]. As our ideas developed, Pete helped me remain focused on what the

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