In its first incarnation, the World Aeropress Championship (WAC), held at Tim Wendelboe in Oslo, could only charitably be described as an understated affair. There were three competitors, a token prize, and cake at the end. Three years later, the WACs are a different story.
Foreshadowing the advent of the Brewers Cup, the World Aeropress Championships were focused on the brewing of black coffee, reflecting a steadily increasing interest in this side of the coffee world. At the time, the contests were solely judged on espresso-based drinks, with any presence of black coffee being mere ingredients or add-ons in the presentations (the Cup Tasting Championship being a notable exception).
While the bigger events, such as the World Barista Championship and its championship offshoots of Latte Art, Coffee and Alcohol and Cup Tasting were becoming increasingly solemn and serious events, the WACs went in a different direction.
Fast, fun, and light-hearted. The format of the competition was designed around these three tenets, and while it has grown larger and slightly more complex with every passing year, it still remains fast-paced and fun.
The goal of the contest is simply to create the tastiest brew possible, using an aeropress. In earlier years, the coffees used were standardised, and showcased a huge variety of different brewing methods that expanded a lot on what had previously been a quite narrow range deemed an “optimal” extraction. Judging by taste alone, three judges would simultaneously point toward their preferred cup of the current round of three brews, with the winner proceeding to the next round.
Interestingly, the contest also allowed for surrogates, that is to say people representing other baristas or coffee professionals that could not make it to the physical competition, but wanted to enter with their brew method.
For the second championship, Alan Adler, the inventor and manufacturer of the Aeropress, made a special one-off “bronze”, – fully functional – Aeropress for the winner. For this years’ WAC, a gold, silver and bronze Aeropress have been awarded!
In 2010, perhaps in part inspired by the success of the WACs, the Brewers Cup was held as an official championship. There was a certain overlap, and the WAC temporarily ceded ground. The Championship was eventually held in London, and the interest had grown to the point where it became necessary to limit the number of contestants.
The 2011 championship was held in conjunction with the HOST industry convention in Milan, Italy. It was limited to 16 competitors, and the competitors were instructed to bring a Kenyan coffee of their preference.
Aside from being a lot of fun to participate in, the competition has throughout its existence also experimented with a myriad of brewing parameters and methods that has in turn expanded our shared understanding of the device itself, but far more importantly of how we approach brewing.
It is a telling aspect of coffee that something that is – seemingly – so easy to quantify can be subject to so many different interpretations and preferences.
2011 Winner Jeff Verellen’s brewing profile for his Kenyan, a coffee from the Thunguri wet mill in Nyeri, an area famous for the quality of its coffee.
- Put the paper filter in the filterholder, wet it with hot water, let it expand and refit it.
- Screw it very tightly into a clean preferably pre-heated Aeropress.
- Measure out 17 grams of coffee (well, specifically this Kenya…) and grind coarsely, bit courser than paper filter.
- Put the Aeropress non-inverted on the recipient.
- Measure 270 grams of soft mineral water or filtered water and bring it to 80c.
- Splash a bit of the water on the filter and directly after throw in the freshly ground coffee, as to allow the bottom to wet and expand a bit.
- Directly after wet the coffee by dripping or pouring very slowly all the grounds, about 40 grams.
- After the coffee has absorbed the water, after about 30 seconds, start very slowly pouring the rest of the water in, try to re-wet the coffee fully again, see that the grounds do not separate from the water, this can be done using a good kettle with small nozzle.
- Let the Aeropress steep and drip for about 1/4th trough or 1 minute.
- Help about 2/4th of the rest of the water trough, with the provided piston, very gently.
- Remove the press and the what`s left, about 50 grams of water from the recipient and throw away.
The World Aeropress Championship year by year
2008 – Competitors: 3; Winner: Anders Valde, Norway (enthusiast).
2009 – Competitiors: 22; Winner: Lukasz Jura, Poland (barista, Stockfleth’s).
2010 – Competitors: 24; Winner: Marie Hagemeister, Denmark (barista, Cafe Europa).
2011 – Competitors: 18; Winner: Jeff Verellen, Belgium (barista, Caffenation)
For more information about the championship, check out the official WAC website.