The second of four scheduled U.S. Regional AeroPress competitions was held March 11, 2016, in and around the glorious 360-degree bar at G&B Coffee in downtown Los Angeles. A vibe of anticipation buzzed in the basement of bustling Grand Central Market, where Glanville and company provided an afternoon practice area for the whopping 36-spot bracket of Los Angelean coffee brewing hopefuls. There they prepared coffee brewing recipes and mingled together while the sun set outside and the bar upstairs was cleared to make room for the brewmania and crowd of hundreds that would invade the market that night.
Judges on the scene in the first wave of brews were Jaymie Lao (Go Get Em Tiger), Tony/Tonx Konecny (LocoL, Tonx Coffee), and Mark Dundon (Paramount Coffee Project Fairfax). Once Dundon’s palate was worn out, his seat was filled by 17-year old teen-chef celeb, Flynn McGarry; and later in the evening with Finnish Barista Champ-turned-instant-spro-inventor-founder, Kalle Freese, who was pulled from the crowd of spectators to slurp the final rounds of pressed brews. G&B Coffee co-owner, Charles Babinski’s absence from the event was explained with rumors about “cold brew in Korea.” Babinski himself has made it very clear his cold brew endeavors in Korea do not involve Photoshop in any way.
To accommodate the massive lineup of AeroPressers and eliminate downtime between rounds, each trio of competitors was staggered with another round close after it. Winners Jon Dail (1st Place, Hidden House Coffee Roasters), Blair Smith (2nd Place, Augie’s Coffee Roasters), and Sean White (3rd Place, ACRE Coffee) advanced through two rounds into a final, third round which included four AeroPressed brews. Judges carefully selected the winners, knocking Jeff Courson (Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders) into 4th place. The winners were announced with much fanfare, by AeroPress-Emcee-Vet, Ben Kaminsky (“Consultant”) who insisted the two finalists climb onto G&B’s glossy marble bar with him, so he could raise the victor’s fist into the air and celebrate his grand prize of a trip to Atlanta to compete at the U.S. AeroPress Championship in April.
After the winning announcement, the crowd stuck around for an after party, spilling into the market’s neighboring courtyard to partake in Southern-style BBQ at Horse Thief Barbecue and bottomless-beer generously provided by contributions from Viora Lid and G&B Coffee. Additional event sponsors were 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters who provided the competition coffee (Honduras El Ocatillo), Not Neutral, and Aerobie.
Bottom Left Regional AeroPress Championship Results:
First Place: Jon Dail, Hidden House Coffee of Orange County, California
Rinse 3 filters into cap
16 grams coffee (5.9 grind setting on Mahlkönig EK 43)
Bloom with 60 milliliters water, as quickly as possible
Stir aggressively with AeroPress paddle until 00:30
Quickly pour water until reaching 235 milliliter water
Stir once, cap, steep until 01:15
Flip and plunge for 00:60, finishing at 02:15
Decant 3x, enjoy
Second Place: Blair Smith, Augie’s Coffee Roasters of Redlands, California
13.5 grams coffee
Bloom (185 degrees fahrenheit water), 00:30, stir
At 00:30, add water until reaching 175 milliliter water, stir 10x
Plunge at 01:45, taste
Add 25 milliliters to remainder
Third Place: Sean White, ACRE Coffee of Petaluma, California
18 grams coffee, presorted smallest beans
275 milliliter water brewed 04:00 in Pyrex beaker, break crust and skim like cupping bowl
One big stir, and all coffee and water pressed through AeroPress (with paper filter on top, disc filter to seal edge)
Elizabeth Chai is a Sprudge contributor based in Portland, Oregon. Read more Elizabeth Chai on Sprudge.