Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 59 of 109

scoresheet requires without ever asking me to give up my ideas just to score points. As we boarded the plane to Korea, just a couple days before the preliminary heats, we understood that while we were happy with the performance, there was a strong chance the judges wouldn't enjoy it, and that even if I made coffee as well as I believed I could, some of the risks might not pay off. I was super excited to make it through the preliminaries with what was not my best performance. I was much more comfortable with my semifinals performance—even though, as luck had it, I had to present first that day, a position I think nobody ever really wants. We worked really hard the night before to pull everything together and, regardless of placing, I felt that that performance was the strongest and best I could possibly have done. My expec- tations, when the finalists were being announced, were low. In fact, throughout the WBC, I was constantly worried that I didn't belong next to the other baristas, some of whom I'd been watching for years. To be backstage with baristas like Kapo [Chiu, Hong Kong], Ben [Put, Canada], Miki [Suzuki, Japan], and others was an amazing feeling, and was the real prize from all those years of competition in the U.K. After my finals performance, when we were called onto the stage for the last time, I think the entirety of that experience was overwhelming and a little harrowing. As each place was called out, I expected to hear my name, and with each name, I became both a little more excited but also aware of how it feels for each compet- itor to have their name called then. All those baristas presented something amazing after months of hard work, and it feels silly to pretend that anyone was better than another. When Miki was announced as having placed second, I was both heartbroken and overwhelmed—and, if I'm honest, I've yet to truly come to terms with what it means. Shortly after, some very quick chats with [previous WBC winners] Pete Licata and Berg Wu helped me accept that it would take a little time to understand what I want to do with this result. CR: Can you say anything about what Pete and Berg told you? DH: Ha! I'm afraid those are secrets only shared amongst our little club! CR: You were the only competitor in the WBC fi nals not to use a Gesha coffee. Do you think your win could result in less usage of Geshas in future competitions? DH: Geshas seem to have become increasingly present on the com- petition stage, but I wonder if that's a reflection of their increasing availability 10 years after those first [Hacienda La] Esmeralda auctions. The variety's growing needs are better understood, as is its market potential, and while the cycle is painfully—you might say economically dangerously—slow, coffee producers tend to reflect the demands of the noisiest players in the coffee industry: the baristas, who determine which coffees bars buy from roasters or offer to their customers. I'm not sure whether my win will cause a change, but I do hope that competitors or potential competitors take from it the idea that there is no formula for success, that the score sheets and the judges allow a huge range of possibilities, and that if you have a message, idea, or just a coffee that you love, there is room for it on that stage. CR: Finally, can you tell me a bit about your personal life and what you do in your free time? DH: My private life is fairly complicated: I have six children from a previous marriage that I spend as much time with as I can. But most of my week is spent working with my customers, on side projects, or being very quiet at home with my partner, Jenn, and my dog, Hiro. I like to bake sourdough bread with the same level of geekery and passion I applied to making coffee as a home barista. I occasionally fl irt with the idea of one day doing this as a job, but through my time in coffee, I've become very aware some hobbies are a lot more fun when they stay hobbies. I also play string instruments really badly to the disappointment of Jenn, who is much more musically competent than me. And I no longer make espresso at home. "Part of what makes barista competitions exciting to me is playing with the structure that's there and looking at ways we can bend those constraints to produce something novel and interesting." Dale in an interview at Barista Magazine Online following his WBC win. Read the two-part interview at 60 barista magazine

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