The Regional AeroPress Winners: A Closer Look

U.S. regional AeroPress winners share their recipes, the details that led to their success, and how they approached the fun-loving and high-spirited competition.


Last week at the U.S. AeroPress Championships hosted by La Marzocco in Seattle, the top prize was taken by Zach Perkins of Water Avenue Coffee, who is also the newly minted Portland Brewers Cup regional winner. Before they pressed down at the finals in Seattle, several of the regional winners talked to us about their AeroPress techniques and their paths to success.

Regional barista trainer and quality assurance associate at La Colombe

Reggie with his trophy. Photo by Farrah Skeiky of Dim Sum Media.
How did you approach the regional competition? How did you design your recipe?
I’ve now competed in three different AeroPress competitions between my time in Sweden and since returning to the U.S. I honestly didn’t approach this one any differently from any of the other competitions. As for my recipe, I really just brewed the coffee, tasted it, and tested it.
Will your recipe change at all from regionals to nationals?
Nope. Well, I think I’ll be brewing into a different vessel and I don’t know much about the water quality in Seattle, so that has me curious. But otherwise, dance with the one that brung you, as people say.
Why did you choose to enter the competition? Is there anything you’d like to share of your experience competing?
I entered because I love the AeroPress! It’s my favorite brewing device. I think it’s incredibly forgiving and doesn’t require a ton of skill, which sounds bad, but I just mean it’s approachable and literally anyone can do it. I love the AeroPress competition because it’s also great from a spectator standpoint. There’s no talking, no presentation, just brew it and get out the way!
Craft Kafe, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Brennan pressing down during her competition run. Photo by Philip Schiller.

How did you approach the regional competition? How did you design your recipe?
I approached it humbly, really just taking it all as a fun learning experience! My formula took quite a bit of time. I wanted something that just coated the palate nicely, without being too lackluster or overpowering. I played around with different ratios and AeroPress brew methods, testing and cross-referencing them all against each other. My coworker and mentor Jason Waits was and is a huge help. Two palates are always better than one, and his has more experience than mine.

What is your recipe?
I used Onyx Coffee’s Guatemalan Maragocaturra—184-degree [Fahrenheit] water, 17.3g on a Mahlkönig Kenia ground at 10.5. I did a 14.5:1 ratio, with a final yield of about 213g. I did it inverted, at a 125g pour, a 35-second bloom, stirred for five seconds, did a final 125g pour, flipped, swirled/shook the AeroPress to get the grinds off of the plunger, and pressed! Brew time was about 2:15 minutes, but I made sure to aerate and cool my coffee for two minutes prior to pouring. I really loved how complex this coffee was. Not too eclectic and out-there (although I love eclectic stuff). I think cooling the coffee was really my saving grace. The flavor was incredible when I settled on this formula that ended up winning the competition. Silky, buttery, really full-bodied without being too overwhelming. There were some really delicious notes of tangerine that peeked through. Overall just a solid, good cup of coffee.
How did you feel winning?
Ecstatic, shocked, humbled, all of the above! Sometimes it still hits me that I won, and I don’t know if it’ll ever fully process. I’m really grateful to work and compete alongside such amazing hosts, baristas, brewers, judges, etc. And I’m overwhelmingly thankful to my job Craft Kafe for letting me use the café and their Mahlkönig to practice with. Also to Jason, again. Shameless name drop, but he’s helped me with everything in coffee.
Home brewer
Brian Gann is one of two home enthusiasts to win a regional AeroPress championship this year.
How did you approach the regional competition? How did you design your recipe? 
First of all, I’m not a professional barista and never have been.  I’m a “home brewer” and work as a sales engineer for a software company. I designed my recipe by looking at past champion recipes and then doing trial and error. All of my best coffee equipment is at my office since that’s where I spend five days a week. I drink two or three cups (usually three) a day, so I’ve had plenty of AeroPress practice at my non-café workplace.  Although my recipe requires weighing coffee and a specific water temperature, I still think it’s relatively practical since I developed it in between meetings and running to get on calls.
What is your recipe? Or maybe a few key thoughts about it if you don’t want to share? 
Inverted method.  Use hot water to wet all equipment and thoroughly wash paper filter. Use 21g of coffee (two clicks left from medium on my Baratza grinder). Pour just enough water to wet grounds (40-50g) and stir if necessary. Start timer. At 30 seconds, begin to very slowly pour water until filled to the top or about 210-220g of total water. Stir three or four times. All of that should have taken about 60 seconds, and then wait for another minute and begin a slow press. Once you hear the hissing sound, stop.
I had to modify the recipe slightly for competition (which was evidently a good idea), since I never paid attention to total weight after pressing and always pressed into a mug. For the competition I added hot water to get to the minimum 200g of coffee and then poured into the official tasting cup.
Why did you choose to enter the competition? 
I entered honestly to have fun and just to say I did it. I literally never envisioned winning. I was worried people wouldn’t like that I wasn’t a professional barista, but literally every person I spoke to thought it was really cool I was competing. Also, because I’m a dummy I forgot part of my AeroPress at home and had to buy one right before the competition in Bellingham. I also didn’t bring a grinder since I was told they would have some, but I discovered they were commercial grade and I had no clue how to use one. Luckily, I made friends with a fellow competitor and she let me use her Baratza the whole night. Of course it was extra fun since I won. I am sure I will get eliminated immediately at the national competition, but I will definitely stick around to have fun.
Assistant roaster and barista trainer at Daylight Mind Coffee Company
Like many competitors, Nathan Dela Cruz used a v60 grind setting and made a ‘concentrate,’ adding water into the brewed coffee at the end. Photo by Patrick Oiye.
How did you approach the regional competition? How did you design your recipe?
I took a very relaxed approach; I wanted to have fun. I had a completely different recipe up until the day before the competition, but on a whim I decided to just see how a different one would be and it just worked.
What is your recipe? 
30g in, ground for like a V60. Inverted. 40g water bloom for 30 seconds. Stir eight times. Add 100g of water. Put on lid (with two paper filters wetted); press all the air out from the top. Wait 15 seconds. Flip and press. Add bypass water to reach desired strength.
Why did you choose to enter the competition? Is there anything you’d like to share of your experience competing?
I thought it would be fun. Plus, living and working in Kona, I know the reputation Kona coffee has in the specialty-coffee world. But there are people here doing really meaningful and important work, trying to change that perception. I feel if I can be of any help to that, then I’ve done my job.
Home brewer
Like Brian, Ihor is a home enthusiast; he entered after seeing the competition publicized on Eventbrite.
Why did you decide to compete?
Found out on Eventbrite’s website that there would be an AeroPress competition in Chicago, and figured why not compete in something that brings me joy, aka my hobby. I’ve been making AeroPresses for the last year and half, but Filip Kucharczyk is the person whose recipe made me realize the potential of this small tool. I got in touch with him before the Midwest regional competition in order to learn more from him. I cannot thank him enough for being a great mentor—basically he is good people.

Can you tell us a little about your recipe?
The recipe follows the idea of making a concentrate, but then adding additional water to taste. I will be following the same recipe in the nationals, but the water might be tweaked.

Is there anything you’d like to share of your experiences?
You might have realized that I do not work in the coffee industry. Winning the regional event was really great—couldn’t have asked for more. The competitors were all really helpful and supportive.

About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at