A week to the competition. We had a chat with Dale Harris, 2017 WBC Champion,  and we asked him the way he prepared his winning routine. “I didn’t prepare anything alone  –  said Dale – My routine was made by a we, a small we, but an important one: my partner Jenn, my coach Pete and I. We bounced ideas around and made decisions together, and we made something together”.

How did you designed your winning routine?

I don’t know how to design a ‘winning’ routine, but I have learnt how to design one that minimises confusion and maximises clarity, matches the needs of the judges and the scoresheets, which are a separate thing, and allows the freedom to experiment and be yourself.

What is the most important step?

It’s very simple: thinking about what you want to achieve. This is the question: if this is your only chance what do you what to do with it? For me, I set the following goals: to use the time to push me to learn new things, to try techniques I wasn’t comfy with, so whatever happened, I would grow; to serve coffee I was excited about, regardless of what might win or make sense on paper;  to embrace the new rules – build something that looked and felt new and fresh for judges and for me

What about choosing coffee?

Every coffee has a story, and you can’t tell it all – you have to be selective and use the information that supports the flavour and the service.

How did you work on your routine?

Jenn and Pete had come up with a strategy for logging changes to words and workflow over the last few years. Every step would be listed on a printed sheet, as it was added to the routine. Every runthrough would be logged against this, with times written down so we could see where we were falling behind, improving, rushing etc. As new elements became introduced we could see their impact later on in the routine, where they caused us to lose time later, or where a tweak near the beginning could allow more efficiency. My first run through took us from getting the judges, to reaching the table for the signature drink with last shots pulled. It took me 13mins 50 seconds. This number became super important, a new goal, to be able to serve all three courses of drinks within this time limit, instead of just the two we acheived the first time.

 

ABOUT DALE HARRIS 

Dale Harris is the 2017 World Barista Champion, a result achieved after many years competing at the national level in, the UK where he has worked in coffee for the past ten years. Each competition year created insight, learning and growth regardless of the results.

Starting as a barista in a chain coffee bar and progressing through training and support roles for equipment companies, Dale now works for Hasbean Coffee, a specialty roaster and online retailer focused on long term relationships across the chain, as Director of Wholesale – a position he’s held since 2010.

In addition to his work with Hasbean, Dale has been active in a number of groups focused on building the global specialty coffee community: as a founding member of the Barista Guild of Europe, holding the position of BGE Chair (2014-2015) and Director of SCAE (2015-2016).

Now that he no longer needs time to prepare for barista competition, Dale spends his “free time” collaborating on  projects through playset.coffee, baking bread, and walking his dog.

COMPETITION HISTORY 
2009     UK Barista Championship                          12th
2010      UK Barista Championship                           2nd
2011      UK Barista Championship                            3rd
2012      UK Barista Championship                            5th
2013      UK Brewers Cup                                             3rd
2014      UK Barista Championship                            2nd
2015      UK Barista Championship                            2nd
2016      UK Barista Championship                            2nd
2017      UK Barista Championship                            1st
2017      World Barista Championship                      1st