Despite highs and lows in turnout for U.S. AeroPress brewing competitions in recent years, the 2016 AeroPress Championship season started with a huge bang, and right in the heart of America: Chicago, Illinois. Some 400 folks showed up to watch the competition on February 27th, sandwiching The Great Lakes Coffee Showcase—a new event dedicated to Chicago micro-roasters—and a latte art throwdown hosted by New Gotham Coffee. “The drive behind the GLCS was to foster a grassroots event that could slowly meet the demand for connectivity in the region that was previously met by USBC Regionals,” said Andrew Bettis (Cafe Integral, MRAC Organizer) “We wanted to form an event that was approachable and connected enthusiasts, professionals, and roasters.”
Boasting a Grand Prize of a trip to Atlanta to compete at the U.S. AeroPress Championship, the MRAC capped its competition brackets at 18, which filled up within a week. Bettis and his team decided to mix things up (highly encouraged) by requiring competitors to select and bring their own coffee. Competition judges included Stephen Morrissey (Uppers & Downers, SCAA), Daniel Yoo (Ipsento Coffee), and Harry Winkler (La Colombe Coffee Roasters).
Finalists Matthew Gasaway (1st Place, Intelligentsia Coffee), Eli Ramirez (2nd Place, Shift Coffee), and Kayla Placencio (3rd Place, Beans & Bagels) advanced through two rounds into a final, third round. In the Final Round, judges voted unanimously for the 1st Place brew, and again unanimously for the 2nd Place brew.
Here are the recipes from the top three from the 2016 Midwest Regional AeroPress Championship:
Intelligentsia Coffee of Chicago, Illinois
Bloom with 60ml water, 00:45
Steady pour of water until reaching 270ml water
Let drip for 4 mins
Gentle plunge into a different vessel, the remaining water through the AeroPress
Added 50-75ml of plunged coffee back into the brew
Shift Coffee of Denton, Texas
15.5g coffee at medium fine grind (Counter Culture Coffee, Kuichi Washed Colombian)
Bloom with 70ml water (195°), 01:00
At 01:00, add water until reaching 240ml total water weight
Flip AeroPress and plunge at 01:30 for 30 seconds
Brew finishes around ~02:00, stir until cool
Beans & Bagels of Chicago, Illinois
Bloom with 45ml water, 00:35-00:40
Stir once to ensure all grounds are moistened
Pour water until reaching 210ml
Stir three times
Let sit until 02:00
00:30 second plunge until water is level with grounds, stir until cool
A huge congratulations to the winners and finalists—we'll see you next at the 2016 US AeroPress Championship event in Atlanta, Georgia on April 16th.
Sponsors for the Midwest Regional AeroPress Championship included: Aerobie, BonaVita, Acaia, Department of Brewology, and Barista Magazine. Sponsors for the Great Lakes Coffee Showcase included: Rancilio, Bow Truss Coffee Roasters, Pentair, Curtis, Intelligentsia Coffee, La Colombe Coffee Roasters, and New Gotham Coffee. In addition, the following coffee companies were served on espresso & brew bars throughout the event: Abacus, Bow Truss, Metropolis, Intelligentsia Coffee, River City Roasters, La Colombe Coffee Roasters, Ipsento Coffee, Big Shoulders Coffee, Ruby Coffee Roasters, Kickapoo Coffee Roasters, and Pilcrow Coffee.
Elizabeth Chai is a Sprudge contributor based in Portland, Oregon. Read more Elizabeth Chai on Sprudge.