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.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
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.
REGGIE ELLIOTT, WASHINGTON, D.C., REGIONAL WINNER
Regional barista trainer and quality assurance associate at La Colombe
Craft Kafe, St. Petersburg, Fla.
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.
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.
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.
Assistant roaster and barista trainer at Daylight Mind Coffee Company
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.
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.
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.
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.