As the full moon rose over Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek, a washed Rwandan bourbon ebbed and flowed in the cylinders of 36 coffee professionals vying for the title of Dutch AeroPress Champion 2017. But it was Jonatan Scheeper who waxed triumphant, winning the gold Alan Adler-autographed trophy.
Scheeper works at Single Estate Coffee Roasters in Maasdijk, though Amsterdammers first got to know him at Headfirst, the espresso bar and micro-roaster he co-owned with 2016 Dutch barista champion Lex Wenneker until its closure in 2015.
Round by round, as MCs Kim Staalman and Gabriel Dunn announced his wins, Scheeper appeared nonplussed. “What? Who, me?” his face seemed to say even into the finals. In the last heat, he out-pressed Milad Ferough, from Coffeecompany Vismarkt in Utrecht, and Erik Oosterhuis, a 2014 third place Dutch AeroPress titleholder and one half of Amsterdam cafe Trakteren—2016 Dutch AeroPress champ Edward Beumer being the other half.
Standing alongside the oversized coupon guaranteeing his ticket to Seoul for the World AeroPress Championship, Scheeper told Sprudge: “I love making AeroPresses, but… I didn’t think I could win it. I tried the coffee and I made a recipe—I thought it was nice—but this was really unexpected.”
Although for years, event organizers Coffeecompany held the contest at their Oosterdok flagship store, this sixth edition took place in the Machinegebouw. Poster designer Stefan Glerum’s Easter egg-toned steampunk lettering befit the building, once the pumping headquarters of Amsterdam’s 19th-century gas factory. The venue provided room to breath—and to breakdance, as came to pass while judges took five for final deliberations. Presiding were Will Corby of Pact Coffee, Stuart Ritson of Cafe Imports Europe, and Mikaela Wallgren of The Coffee Collective.
March 11 occasioned a first collaboration between Coffeecompany and local brewery Troost in producing a coffee IPA, made with a Kagumoini SL28 and 34. But it also marked the final Dutch AeroPress Championship that Coffeecompany’s beloved, blazered Stijn Braas would host before leaving his decade-long employer.
Many contenders and supporters wore cafe logo-ed apparel, with Back to Black, Black Gold, The Village, and Versace White Label featuring prominently. One reading of Bert van Wassenhove’s bomber jacket with patch letters spelling “PATAT” was snackwave-chic; another was the sartorial working-through of a collective fear that potato-taste defect could surface in the competition coffee. But no such reports came of the Coffeecompany-roasted beans from award-winning Muyongwe washing station.
Other participants included heavy-hitters from the Low Countries specialty coffee industry. Neither Wenneker nor his brother, Bob Wenneker, himself a 2014 second place Dutch AeroPress titleholder, got past the initial round, but that freed them to cheer Scheeper. Beumer did not advance either, but he shook it off, appearing to transition instantaneously from Oosterhuis’ fellow competitor to his personal Cruyff. Despite remarkable dexterity with two AeroPresses, defeat came early to Cerianne Bury, a quality coordinator at Trabocca and an astute sociocultural analyst of barista competitions. While Bocca roaster Ben Richardson, last year’s bronze medalist in the same contest, reached the semifinals, he had to stop there—though not without giving a quick kiss to Scheeper’s forearm, mid-press. It was impish and tender and clearly lucky.
The winning recipes
First place: Jonatan Scheeper, Single Estate Coffee Roasters
Coffee: 19 grams
Grind: Mahlkönig EK 43, setting 9
Water: 240 grams
Filter: 2x AeroPress filter
Place filter in filter holder and rinse with hot water
Heat water to 70 degrees Celsius
Use AeroPress right-side up and place on preheated server
Add ground coffee to the AeroPress
Start timer and pour all the water in 15 seconds
Stir 4 times in about 15 seconds
Place plunger on the AeroPress at an angle and pull for a millimeter to make sure no water runs through
Leave for 30 seconds, when the timer hits 1 minute, press for 40 seconds and stop before the hissing noise
Pour into a non-heated cup
Second place: Milad Feroegh, Coffeecompany
Coffee: 23 grams (after picking), 18.5 grams after sieving
Grind: Rhinowares hand grinder, 12 clicks coarser than the finest setting
Water: 250 grams Spa Reine (25 grams at room temperature, 225 grams at 88 degrees Celsius)
Filter: 1x AeroPress filter
Grind coffee in a Rhinowares hand grinder
Sift fines with a FORLIFE tea infuser
Pour 25 grams of Spa Reine at room temperature in inverted AeroPress
Add 18.5 grams of coffee
Pour 50 grams of water at 88 degrees Celsius for a 30-second bloom
Add remaining 175 grams of water
Flip at 1 minute 20 seconds and press in 40 seconds in a non-heated cup
3rd Place: Erik Oosterhuis, Trakteren
Coffee: 33 grams
Grind: EK 43 setting 10.25
Water: 80 grams Icelandic Glacial
Filter: 1x AeroPress filter
Use AeroPress right-side up
Pour 80 grams of water at 50 degrees Celsius and bloom for 40 seconds
Stir 1 time
Press as quickly as possible
Dilute with 120 grams of water at 70 degrees Celsius
Karina Hof is a Sprudge staff writer based in Amsterdam. Read more Karina Hof on Sprudge.
Photos by Jasper Uhlenbusch and Karina Hof.