There was an impressive turnout at this year’s East Coast Regional AeroPress Championship, which was hosted by Variety Coffee Roasters at their Bushwick shop and roastery. A fridge near the front was stocked with complimentary beer, and tables and chairs were moved aside to form a makeshift arena where a rowdy crowd of roughly 150 people gathered to take part in the evenings festivities.
The original slate of judges included Sam Penix (Everyman Espresso), Carlos J. Morales (Third Rail Coffee), and Kat Odell (Eater). The ECRAC boasted a whopping 32 participants (the competition brackets were capped at 36), making for what felt to many like a never-ending event; in fact, Penix and Odell later succumbed to exhaustion, and were replaced by Brian Gelletly (Joe Coffee) and Maciej Kasperowicz (Gregory’s Coffee) towards the end of the semifinals. “I was the only one who tasted roughly 52 cups of the same coffee—long night,” Morales told me.
First place went to New Jersey-based high school culinary arts teacher, trained opera singer, and home barista Rusty Obra, who will be heading to Atlanta, Georgia, on April 16 to defend his title as 2015 US AeroPress Champion. Joseph Crosthwaite of Manhattan’s O Cafe placed second, and third place went to Jonathan Wilson of Café Grumpy.
All competitors used a Peruvian San Fernando coffee roasted by Variety and a grinder of his or her choice. Below are the winning recipes.
First Place: Rusty Obra, home barista, New Jersey
19.7 grams coffee
260 grams water
Total brew time: 2:45
Pour 60 grams of 185 degrees Fahrenheit water into an inverted AeroPress, bloom for 30 seconds. Stir three times, then pour remaining 200 grams of water and steep for 1:30. Add cap, invert, and plunge for 45 seconds. Swirl to aerate, and serve.
Second Place: Joseph Crosthwaite, O Café of New York
21.3 grams coffee
243 grams water
Total brew time: 1:50
Pour 70 grams of water and brew for 30 seconds. Add remaining 243 grams of water, steep for another 1:20, add cap, and plunge until 1:50.
Third Place: Jonathan Wilson, Café Grumpy of New York
15 grams coffee
230 grams Nice! brand water
2 paper filters
Total brew time: 1:45
Pour 230 grams of 194 degrees Fahrenheit water into an inverted AeroPress. Stir and let sit for 1:15. Stir again and add double-filtered cap. Push all the air out while the AeroPress is still upside down, until beads of coffee start popping through. Flip and press for about 30 seconds.
Joanna Han (@joannakarenina) is a Sprudge.com contributor based in New York City. Read more Joanna Han on Sprudge.
Photos courtesy of Joanna Han and Josh Littlefield.