There’s something happening today that is the entire reason a lot of folks are even here in Boston at the SCAA show: The United States AeroPress Championship! Since Tim Varney started the World AeroPress Championship in 2008 in Oslo, Norway, it has grown to be one of the most beloved coffee competitions in the world. It’s never taken place on a big stage ”in fact, it began in a small cafe space! These days, sponsors such as Bunn and Marco host it in their booth at various coffee shows around the world. There’s just this awesome vibe to AeroPress competitions ”they’re more fun than fancy, and they remind us of the days before coffee competitions were such a to-do, when people just jumped in and tried something new.
Make no mistake though: however non-frills the competitions themselves are, the competitors are quite serious, and the award very much coveted. One can only imagine what AeroPress inventor Alan Adler of Aerobie thought when the competition first debuted, but you can be sure he loves the popularity of the awesome coffee device among elite baristas and coffee enthusiasts everywhere!
The championship will start and end today, with the crowning of a new U.S. AeroPress Champion. He or she will travel next month to Melbourne, Australia, to represent the U.S. at the World AeroPress Championship. It’s so exciting!
Before the craziness begins, I was able to chat with U.S. AeroPress Championship organizers Joshua Wismans and Brent Fortune about this year’s awesome event.
Is there anything new and different about this year’s U.S. AeroPress Championship?
Joshua: This year, we are keeping it fairly identical to previous years, with 2 big exceptions. First, Aerobie is going to be sponsoring the U.S. Champion to compete in the World AeroPress Championship with a round-trip ticket to Melbourne! Second, we are introducing a new award to the competition: the Most Innovative Method. The goal of this award is to promote creativity. We want the competitor to stretch their imagination and the laws of physics when devising brilliant new ways to produce a cup of coffee with the AeroPress.
How do you select the judges for the U.S. AeroPress Championship?
Joshua: When selecting our judges we look for those who have experience and are well regarded in cupping and tasting. Green buyers and cup tasters champions are always ones we’ll go to first as it’s a pretty good bet they have a well refined palette. If they’re fun folks to have around the competition that’s always is bonus!
Who besides you two organizes this annual event? Or is it just you two?
Brent: I honestly didn’t think the USAC was going to happen this year, as I wasn’t planning to go to Boston, and didn’t see a way to crown a champ and send them to Melbourne knowing the WAC would be there in May. Josh, via Scott Lucey, rallied support from Alterra and reached out to sponsors to make this possible. He’s basically organized everything this year, from the logo, to competitor outreach, and selecting the judges.
Joshua: Like Brent graciously said, I’ve taken on most of the planning and organizing. However, Brent Fortune and Alterra’s Scott Lucey have been super helpful as Brent was the organizer of last year’s competition and Scott has been a great partner to bounce ideas off of and get myself connected with various sponsors.
The U.S. AeroPress Championship still feels really fun and raw and grassroots — the nature of the AeroPress Championships is very cool and inclusive. Do you guys want to keep it that way indefinitely? Or will there be an effort to add it to the roster of other big competitions?
Joshua: You’re right its still grassroots and inclusive, and that’s part of the competition we love and want to keep. I don’t think USAC has the aim to take on a place next to Brewer’s Cup and the USBC, though growth is a big part of the AeroPress Championship’s future. Getting regional competitions setup for all parts of the US is going to be a push we’ll be making. Also, while pairing the USBC, the SCAA expo, and USAC as far as time and place are concerned has worked well, we’d like to be able to get the US AeroPress Championship to be able to stand on its own and possibly host it separate from the Expo. That’s not to say we aren’t thankful for all the support we’ve received from them so far though. La Marzocco and Bunn both deserve huge shoutouts for getting this competition off the drawing board!
Brent: As for the future of the AeroPress competitions, we are just kind of seeing where it goes with no real specific direction or goals except to continue to make coffee fun and approachable. One of the things that appealed to me about this competition format is how simple it is, and that someone could literally show up the day of and have everything they need to compete. We’d like to continue to see home brewers and coffee fanatics get involved so that it offers an equal opportunity for both coffee professionals and regular consumers who are passionate about home brewing to participate. It has also become a bit of the anti-competition with a less-serious side and an emphasis on fun. I don’t think when Tim and Tim (Varney and Wendelboe) started this project, they realized it would grow into something with so many national competitions and a World Championship that moved around the globe.
Will Alan Adler from Aerobie be in Boston to present the awards?
Joshua: Alan Adler will be there for introductions, handing out the prizes, and conducting his own experiments. Everyone should come down and shake his hand and give a huge thanks, as this type of event wouldn’t exist without him.
The U.S. AeroPress Championship takes place today at 1:30 p.m. today at the Bunn booth, #553. See you there!