On Saturday, April 16th, some forty competitors pressed for the title of 2016 US AeroPress Champion at Chattahoochee Coffee in Atlanta, Georgia. Engaged spectators and dazed passers-by both donned Aerobie flying discs worn like halos and took photos as MCs Chris Baca and Jared Truby (Cat & Cloud Coffee) dazzled the crowd with their hilarious banter. For five hours, some competitors advanced while others did not, until there were just one. And that one was Ben Jones of Ristretto Roasters in Portland, Oregon.
The competition was judged by a truly prestigious crew of coffee professionals. Past US Cup Tasters champion Amanda Juris (Verve Coffee Roasters), Australia Barista Champion Matt Perger (St. Ali), and World Barista Champion Mike Phillips (Blue Bottle Coffee) tasted, slurped, and pointed all evening, with special guest cameo judges Ben Kaminsky (Kaminsky Consulting), David LaTourelle (BKON Brewer), and Kalle Freese (Sudden Coffee).
The crowd ate cotton candy, snow cones, and hot dogs in this carnival-themed affair. Carnival games were set up throughout the event for attendees. Winners were given raffle tickets good for skateboard decks, t-shirts, brewing equipment, and coffee. All the while, tattoo artist Ryan Weaver gave away free tattoos inside the bustling Chattahoochee cafe. To ensure that as many people were given the opportunity to commemorate the event permanently on their body, UNIC Espresso sponsored a second tattoo artist to double-up.
The international AeroPress circuit, once a guerilla-style unofficial afterthought of an event is now a fully fledged sponsored and licensed coffee sport. National AeroPress competitions like these are taking place all over the world, and national winners will compete on the world stage in Dublin in June. During last night's affair, one spectator asked the sky, “Didn't this used to be on the trade show floor?” Just then, Jared Truby took a face swap selfie with Mike Phillips while declaring, “This coffee be banging!”
All competitors competed with a truly banging Colombia Los Naranjos from Cafe Imports. In the end, three talented coffee professionals took home custom AeroPress brewers/trophies to display and/or brew with. It was a Pacific Northwest heavy finals, with Nelson Icenhower (Slayer Espresso, Seattle, WA) taking the bronze prize, Mike Cannon (Velton's Coffee, Everett, WA) taking silver, and Ben Jones (Ristretto Roasters, Portland, OR) with the coveted golden AeroPress.
Here are your top three recipes.
Third Place: Nelson Icenhower, Slayer Espresso, Seattle, WA
Water: 250ml (rolling boil)
Grind: Medium coarse / Baratza Forte
0:00-0:30 – Bloom 30ml
0:30-1:00 – Add rest of the water
1:00 – Four agitation stirs
2:45 – 3:10 – Press
Second Place: Michael Cannon, Velton's Coffee, Everett, WA
Coffee: 20g total
Water: 160ml brew / 80ml bypass 185 degrees
Grind: 10g coarse, 10g fine
0:00 – 0:55 – Add 10g coarse coffee and 80ml of water and agitate
0:55 – Add 10g fine coffee and 80ml of water
0:55 – 1:30 – Agitate
1:30 – Plunge slow
Add 80ml of water and stir
First Place: Ben Jones, Ristretto Roasters, Portland, OR
Water: 175ml “hot as you can get it” / 75ml bypass
Grind: “Drippish” (8 on the EK-43)
Filter: x3 – Paper, Able Metal, Paper sandwich
Wrap AeroPress in an Old German beer cosy.
Add 175ml of water
Add plunger and pull back a little for some nice back pressure
1:15 – slow press 30 seconds, stop before the hiss & bubble
Add 75ml of water and stir.