Congratulations to Dale Harris, the national champion from United Kingdom who has become the 2017 World Barista Champion! It’s been an exciting four days in Seoul, with competitors from 58 countries taking to the stage at the WBC.
From Bean Scene Magazine
The 2017 WBC took place at Café Show Seoul on from 9 to 12 November. Competitors presented 15-minute routines and served four espressos, four milk-based, and four signature beverages to a panel of four certified judges.
Dale embraced the new WBC table configuration format and completely changed the interaction experience. He hosted the judges between two tables and provided service from both sides, even at one point asking the judges to not watch him preparing the coffees.
His routine focused on the connection between the flavours experienced in the cup, and the actions that shape them at origin.
“For most coffee experiences, that connection is broken,” Dale told the judges. “We get information about varietals, altitudes and farm names, but without context it’s just noise, and repeated often enough, we risk commoditising the experience of specialty.”
Dale said he wanted to try something “different” in his approach to his WBC routine, and different it was. He developed a sensory experience all about flavour, and presented his farm information at the very end of his routine.
He explained to the judges the flavour is experienced primarily through aromatic compounds, and proceeded to focus on 10 compounds paired specifically with the coffee he presented.
To better understand the connection between flavour and compounds, Dale worked with the Department of Food Sciences at the University of Nottingham, using Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS), an analytical method to identify different aromatic compounds, which Dale compared in different extractions, roasts and recipes, and to different coffees on the same farm.
Dale started with his milk course, dialling 20 grams of his coffee in, and 40 grams out, with a 21 per cent extraction yield. He heated his milk to 50°C and produced a texture with 10 per cent foam.
He identified three aromatic compounds tied to his milk-based beverage, which he associated to granola, brown sugar sweetness and poached pair.
For his espresso course, Dale identified another four aromatic compounds linked to his espresso extraction, which involved a 20-gram dose and 44-gram extraction.
As he prepared this course Dale introduced the judges to a “sensory placer” – four objects designed to introduce them to the aromatic compounds in his espresso extraction.
He asked the judges to smell the aromas of the items in front of them. First, cubes that contained the first compound connected to the aroma of dried fruits and a taste note of pomegranate in espresso. Then came spheres, which contained compounds linked to sweet and floral aromas, and a taste note of Ethiopian honey in espresso. They then lifted a pyramid containing the aroma of two compounds that together gave flavour of caramelised orange, and a glass vile, in which he asked the judges to tilt to observe the fluidity of the liquid, in reference to how his espresso would move in the cup.
Dale presented his signature drinks on a table behind the judges before asking them to turn around. It was only at this late point in the routine that Dale revealed his micro lot coffee as a fully washed 2L28 from Finca Las Brumas in El Salvador.
Using GCMS, Dale identified three aromatic compounds tied to the long maturation of this coffee. The first was linked to botanical and herbaceous aromas. Dale infused 88 grams of espresso with four grams of pre-washed a Japanese Oolong from the Kyoto region, which exuded a “positive botanical bitterness”.
His second compound was tied to the aroma of sweet cocoa. He infused 125 grams of hot water with 30 grams of lactose-fermented cocoa nibs, which he then strained over 60 grams of ice to dilute and chill. He fermented these ingredients for three days in a solution of a sourdough culture that he had been cultivating for six years, and added five grams to each drink.
The third compound was linked to cream. Dale took 250 millilitres of fresh milk and added 80 grams of a citric acid solution of 4.6pH, which separated away from the milk and clarified through a paper filter. He added five grams of this to each drink, shook all the ingredients together, and charged it with Nitrogen dioxide to create a creamy mouthfeel.
The cold beverage served on ice contained flavours of dark chocolate and oolong bitterness. A second sip gave flavours of cream soda.
Dale concluded by explaining why he left the farm information to the end of his presentation.
“Its the most important [information] of all, but when we give it away without context, it doesn’t have that value,” he said in his closing statement. “It’s our job to build that connection between information and the sensory experience. Working with the university and using things like GCMS has enabled me to develop my understanding of this connection further, and using examples like the sensory placer is another way to connect to the consumer, and that’s really exciting.”
Please tell us a little bit about yourself:
Director of wholesale at Hasbean, Barista at (H)AND. I’ve worked in coffee for a long while; competition has been a big part of my time in coffee but it’s also the excitement of new flavours, working with passionate people, and seeing how something seemingly simple can lead to incredible complexity – in the cup, economically—bringing lots of very different people and experiences together.
What are you excited to do while you are in Seoul?:
Meet new people! See and taste new things! Spend a little time in a different world! Catch a FarFetch’d.
Please list the coffee competitions you have participated in, what year they took place, and your results:
2009 UKBC – 12th
2010 UKBC – 2nd
2011 UKBC – 3rd
2012 UKBC – 5th
2013 UKBrC – 3rd
2014 UKBC – 2nd
2015 UKBC – 2nd
2016 UKBC – 2nd
2017 UKBC – 1st (whoop)
Is there anyone you would like to thank or recognize, or who helped you to prepare for the WBC?:
Pete Williams, my coach. Jenn Rugolo, my partner. Steve Leighton, my friend, boss and roaster, and the whole team at Hasbean.
How do you see the coffee industry changing in the future?:
Hope to see specialty continuing to grow it’s share of the whole market, but to do that there will need to be lots of co-operation. Looking at the real challenges we face both at origin in making sure specialty rewards producers sustainably, but also in consuming nations where we need to make sure that we keep working together as things get more competitive.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?:
Five years older, slightly more back pain.
What are your interests outside of coffee?:
Baking bread, walking, eating nice things with good people