Twenty day to WBC Seattle. waiting for this important event, Victoria Arduino asked impressions and recommendations to four World Barista Champions: Fritz Storm (Oslo 2002), Gwilym Davies (Atlanta 2009), Hidenori Hizaki (Rimini 2014) e James Hoffmann (Tokyo 2007). Here their useful hints for Seattle competitors.

How to get ready for the WBC competition?
GWILYM DAVIES: Practice, practice, practice. Practice for your technical scoresheet every day when you make coffee. Practice the routine and perform it infant of people who make you nervous. Practice recovering from mistakes, when you do run throughs of your performance keep going even if it goes wrong. Practice engaging with judges, look customers in the eye, use your body language and the way you speak to get their interest. Practice your preparation time, this is really boring but essential, I nearly lost because I messed up here.
JAMES HOFFMANN: It is important to start with a good idea of what you want to achieve, that isn’t based on where you place. You should have something to say, or a reason to compete that you are in control over – and you aren’t in control of where you place. You can’t control how good anyone else is, or how good their coffee is. You need goals that can be achieved within yourself. People who solely want to win rarely have an enjoyable time.
HIDENORI IZAKI: Preparing for WBC is all about strategy. So called PDCA cycle is very important. You need to set up your final goal, which is not only a result and but also your philosophy comes out from your routine. Competition is only 15 min but this 15 min could change entire industry, if you have a strong will to tell something important for this industry from your point of view.
FRITZ STORM: That is a very wide open question, and it depends on each single person who is going to compete. Over the past 12 years where I have trained and mentored baristas for the WBC I see many different personalities and also many different approaches to the competition. However I believe it is very important that a competitor ask himself/herself what the goal for competing is? Meaning you have to make it clear to yourself why and for what reasons you compete.

What value barista has to give prominence during the competition: technique or creativity, precision or flair?
GWILYM DAVIES: Be nice, serve tasty espresso and do not sick your fingers on on the rim of the cups
JAMES HOFFMANN: I think these are all components, but they should all be in service of giving the judges a great coffee service. Flair without purpose is just showing off, and a waste of time (of which you have so little on stage). Technique and precision should be there, but only really evident in the drinks served.
HIDENORI IZAKI: : I think the most important things is to tell what you love, what you can passionate about, because It’s something that comes from your mind. Those words has a power to shake people’s heart.
FRITZ STORM: I would say everything. If you want to go far in the competition you will have to master all. Be very technical skilled at the same time you show emotions and look relaxed. Everything organized but you still look loose.

How to manage the relationship with judges?
GWILYM DAVIES: Be nice, treat the judges as people, believe it or not: they are nervous too. Judges want you to do well they are wanting to give you good points, get them to like you
JAMES HOFFMANN: I used to write out a perfect scoresheet for myself, full of what I wished the judges would write about the routine. Then I started working out what I would need to do to get them to write those things down. It is all about empathy I think. Also – most judges are a little bit nervous too. They don’t want to let the barista down – easing their nerves too is important.
HIDENORI IZAKI: Judges is not Judges. I mean Judges are also people who loves coffee and want to contribute for this industry, same as like competitor. Be friendly as like your friends, Shake your hands tight same as like people who first time to meet. It’s same as like building up relationship with others.
FRITZ STORM: I would say treat them nice and as your customers, they are good, nice tried people who want the best for the baristas. After being involved with the education and certification globaly for so many years, I know that they are trained well with the purpose to let the barista shine as much as possible.