Twelve days to WBC Seattle. waiting for this important event, Victoria Arduino asked impressions and recommendations to four World Barista Champions: Gwilym Davies (Atlanta 2009), James Hoffmann (Tokyo 2007), Hidenori Hizaki (Rimini 2014) and Fritz Storm (Oslo 2002). Here their useful hints for Seattle competitors.
What is most difficult about competing?
GWILYM DAVIES: Nerves, finances, destroyed relationships. The strangest thing about competing was that I never wanted to win, I was there to represent myself, the coffee and my roaster well but we never aimed to win, the routine was designed around making a tasty espresso, fun and pushing boundaries, not about winning. sometimes you push boundaries and it is the right time.
JAMES HOFFMANN: Repetition. Doing things over and over again – necessary but just no fun for me. I always want to improvise and sometimes that doesn’t work so well.
HIDENORI IZAKI: Motivation. I think to keep practicing, It’s always very hard, and sometimes you feel really bad about your self, because you sometimes realize you cannot do like others does. Competition is always difficult and sometimes you wanted to drop out form this race but In those moment, Please remember why you decided to compete, and people who supported you like your family.
FRITZ STORM:It is defiantly to be yourself on stage. To show who you really are without being too affected byt the situation.
Can you give us some suggestions to manage stress and emotions during the competition?
GWILYM DAVIES: Keep your perspective, understand that the journey is long, remember why you are there and that you will be back. If you can stand on stage before your performance, try to be yourself understand shaking is normal and at least enjoy this stressful experience, failing that have a small whisky.
JAMES HOFFMANN: For me it was important to drink as little coffee as possible before going on stage. Lots of competitors taste dozens of shots during prep time and then find themselves over caffeinated and very shaky! I was still a bit shaky but less so than if I had had a lot of coffee before. My support team helped taste everything and I only had a couple of sips once everything was dialled in to make sure I had the tasting notes correct.
HIDENORI IZAKI: I think barista competition is same as like a sports. We need to make a best performance during 15min. The day is 24hours, which is 1440min per day. In this 15min / 1440min, We need to bring out our best. Obviously, We have to prepare mentality to bring out our best in just 15min. Maybe you’ll get stressed out a lot before competition, Maybe you’ll get too excited to control your self. So I spent a lot of times to maintain my mentality as usual as I could. I trained my mentality with my trainer and I read books about metal training.
FRITZ STORM: This is one of the big things that the majority of baristas have difficulties with controlling. My philosophy in training, and what everyone experience on my barista camps, is a focus on mental preparations. It is really essential that a competitor can go in and be as much himself/herself as possible. This gives you a possibility to become unique. So when you make you create your performance and practise with it, it is important that it feels natural, and that you do things that you like and believe in. Besides that you shall do mental training and prepare yourself for the unexpected and “Murphys law”
What advice would you give to 2015 wbc competitors?
GWILYM DAVIES: Enjoy themselves, they are all champions already and the Worlds is a great opportunity to meet people and learn
JAMES HOFFMANN: Treat it as an opportunity to have an intense learning experience, not as an opportunity to show off your skills. No matter how good you are, competing will make you better if you let it so approaching it with a little humbleness is a good idea.
HIDENORI IZAKI: : I know you are extremely stressed out and maybe excited especially before the competition. Please close your eyes and remember what you have done. You practiced from early mooring to midnight, and drunk espresso like crazy. Imagine how many people supported you up until then? You’ll never walk alone. Say thank you before the competition in your mind while closing your eyes. Believe your work and always be your self.
FRITZ STORM: Remember that is is “only” coffee and a competition. Meaning that it is not the end of the world if you make a mistake or dont succeed the way you wanted. Do everything you can to do your best, then it doesn’t matter what ranking you get, because you could not have done it better.