Alongside the official barista competitions held at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo this year was their distant cousin, the decidedly less official and more rambunctious WAC—World Aeropress Championship. This year saw the WACs escalate things even further, with live music, hamburgers and a full-on ping pong tournament running at the same time.
While the event was great fun (you can read more about it here, on the official blog) the real meat of the WACs for those of us at home is the resultant brewing techniques that are published afterwards. In finding out exactly how the winners went about brewing their coffees, it becomes easier than ever to refine your own technique.
Belgian Jeff Verellen, the 2011 World Aeropress Champion did it again this year. This caught people’s attention—what is Jeff doing that is working so well? Wonder no more, as he has finally laid out the why’s and how’s on the official blog.
Initially, the way to get to the recipe was classic trial and error. Kaizen way of improvement: Every morning 2 Aeropresses, 1 ‘best’ method a standard, and 1 challenging method, if the challenging method was better than that one would be the next days ‘’best’’ method. There are many variables to play with to make a challenging method: grind, ratio, water, temperature, time. A few things will always improve a coffee; picking out bean defects, using better water, using a better grinder, sieving the fines, not pressing all the way through (the Ketel one technique) so that’s a given to improve these to the fullest.
In the roastery where I work we don’t have many tools, the only way to make coffee is through an old Aeropress bought in 2008 at Kontra from a certain Troels Poulsen. I remember coming home to Belgium with it and Rob, my boss instantly making a very nice cup with it. Every roasting day I used to make at least 4 sometimes 15, trying every roast. Offering cups to visitors, the best way to learn if you’re doing it right is gauging their reactions.
Kaizen is a philosophy (and concomitant business practice) revolving around the idea of continuous improvement through iterative changes. This is what Jeff, who works at a coffee roastery applied to his coffee brewing. It might seem like the simplest of ideas, but the rigour and sensory skill required to fine tune each variable makes it harder to apply than it seems.
The 2013 Winning Recipe brewed with Gitchathaini (Nyeri, Kenya) from Nordic Approach
- 17 grams of quality controlled coffee (pick out the dud beans) ground 5.75 on the uber grinder, little courser than paper filter.
- Rinsed normal filter, Aeropress in regular position.
- 50 grams of water at 83c for the bloom. Bloom for 40s. Nicely wet all grounds and lightly agitate holding the Aeropress by shaking it a bit around.
- Very slowly add 215 grams of water at 79c over about 30 sec
- Press very gently for about 30 seconds.
- Leave about 50 gram slurry in the press and discard.
- Put the rest of the brew in the gob.
His water temperature is particularly low, and while he himself is unable to give a (scientifically) sound reason for why this results in a better brew, it ultimately doesn’t matter; the proof is in the cup, after all.
If you have or can get a hold of an Aeropress, we encourage you to get pressing and try the recipe for yourself!
The photo of the three winners and of Jeff brewing were taken by Abigail Varney