A small but enthusiastic crowd turned out for the 2016 French AeroPress Championship, which took place on April 25th at Paname Brewing Company in Paris’ 19th arrondissement. The canal-side brewpub began filling up at 4 p.m., as contestants tested equipment and organizers worked out a few lingering technical glitches. At the height of the competition, there were easily 100 onlookers craning over pints of craft beer and pizza rounds to see the action.
The 18 contenders vying for the title of French AeroPress Champion travelled from the four corners of France: Tours, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Lille, Nantes, and of course Paris, were well represented. Six qualification sessions were held around the country prior to last week’s competition, a first for the French competition and a testament to the growing interest in specialty coffee, and AeroPress in particular, in France.
The panel of judges included last year’s French AeroPress Champion Thomas Clément (Café Cuillier); the 2014 French Coffee and Good Spirits Champion Nir Chouchana; and Viva Lenoir, representing Le Nez du Café. To break the many ties that occurred over the course of the evening was head judge and 2012 World AeroPress Champion Charlene DeBuysere.
Nearly every competitor had professional ties to the coffee industry—except Jerome Dittmar, a journalist from Lyon and the evening’s victor. “That’s what’s great about AeroPress, it’s accessible to everyone,” says Emmanuel Buschiazzo of the French Barista Network. “Other competitions require too much time and training for anyone but coffee professionals to stand a chance.”
Second place winner Franck Chenat, who travelled from the eastern city of Mulhouse, echoed this sentiment: “What’s nice about AeroPress is that it doesn’t attract only professionals.”
Owner of Strasbourg burger joint Katçup, Chenat plans to open a coffee shop in Mulhouse in September with his high school friend Clément Turlot, who also placed, coming in third—and he wasn’t even supposed to be competing. “The manager of Café Bretelles [in Strasbourg] where I work won the qualifying round, but he was too ill to come, so I took his place at the last minute,” he explains.
Finalists all used a Finca Maputa supplied by event sponsor Café Moxka.
Here are the evening’s three winning recipes:
1st Place: Jerôme Dittmar, Journalist, Lyon.
Coffee: 18 grams
Grind: Medium coarse / 9.5
Water: 225 milliliters / 176 degrees Fahrenheit
0:00-0:15 Add 40 milliliters water
0:45-1:45 Add 185 milliliters water
2nd Place: Franck Chenat, Restauranteur, Mulhouse.
Coffee: 17.1 grams
Grind: Medium coarse with Cafflano
Water: 192 degrees Fahrenheit / 235 milliliters
Filter: 2 standard filters
Bloom 35 milliliters water for 15 seconds
Add 90 milliliters water and stir vigorously for 30 seconds
Add 110 milliliters water and wait 40 seconds
Wait 2:45 and serve
3rd Place: Clément Turlot, Café Bretelles, Strasbourg.
Coffee: 20 grams
Grind: 11 Mahlkönig EK 43
Water: 185 degrees Fahrenheit / 210 milliliters
0:00-0:15 Add 210 milliliters of water
1:20-4:20 Remove the fatty film from the surface of the coffee with a spoon and wait.
Photos courtesy of Réseau des Baristas de France/L’imagerie and Kate Robinson.