A firsthand report of vying to become the country’s national AeroPress champ.
BY TANYA NANETTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT
Photos by Nuno Alexander
One of the most accessible world coffee championships is the AeroPress competition.
To participate, you don’t need much—a small entry fee, a bag of the coffee that you’ll need to brew during the contest, and an AeroPress. That’s it! No difficult training required, no need for in-depth coffee knowledge, and no need to spend months preparing for the competition.
Furthermore, the absence of strict rules and the usual laid-back approach by organizers, judges, and other competitors makes the AeroPress competition a fun, low-stress event.
With this in mind, we (the author) decided to participate in the 2022 edition of the Campeonato Portuguese AeroPress—the country’s national competition—which was held in Lisbon on October 15.
The fourth edition of the AeroPress Portugal Championship was the largest to date: Thirty-six competitors came not only from Portugal but also from Russia, Nepal, Italy, Albania, and other countries. The competition took place at Give It a Shot, one of the largest specialty-coffee shops in Lisbon.
Competitors’ approaches to the event varied. Sure, you could invest more money and time finding the right water, buying more coffee to brew while looking for the perfect recipe, and so on, but it’s completely up to you. And, as we have witnessed several times in AeroPress competitions around the world, you don’t necessarily need to be a pro to win the competition.
For the coffee to brew, the jury picked a natural Colombia from Finca La Rivera (La Estrella, Risaralda region). This coffee was roasted by a tiny, local, family-owned coffee roaster with a long story, Flor da Selva, which still roasts its regular coffees on a wood-fueled Probat from the ‘50s. This coffee proved quite fun to brew during all the tests that we did at home. We were able to extract many interesting notes and a fun acidity—far from the typical profile of Portuguese specialty coffees, which tend to be more chocolatey and sweet.
On the day of the championship, immediately following registration, we got a nice surprise. Among the competition judges were Francisco Monteiro, co-owner and roaster at Flor da Selva, and Inês de Ayala, a local blogger and creator of the Coffee Over Matter page. There was also a special appearance by coffee coach Lance Hedrick (also known as the guy behind sales and education for Onyx Coffee Lab and more), who recently moved to Portugal.
With an original approach that allowed multiple wild card entrants chosen among the losers of the eliminatory heats, the competition went on throughout the day, with opponents facing each other several times.
Violetta Yablovskaya, 2019 Russia Brewers Cup Champion, and who recently moved to town, won the competition. The runner-up was Alesia Zhvirblia (also quite new in town, originally from Belarus), and followed by Jonas Campos (a nutritionist, scientist and barista), the only local guy on the podium.
All in all, the Campeonato Portuguese Aeropress was a great experience. We didn’t win, but we had the chance to meet lovely people from the coffee community. We also tested our skills and learned new things along the way about coffee and ourselves. Above all, we had lots of fun.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the coffee machine (or visiting some hidden corner of the world), she’s busy writing for Coffee Insurrection, a website about specialty coffee that she’s creating along with her boyfriend.