From balloons to blends, Canadian AeroPress competitors put on a grand show in Calgary
BY VANIA LING
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
AeroPress championships are about two things: having a ball (or having the craic, if we are getting ready for Ireland, where the World AeroPress Championship is set to take place on June 23 in Dublin), and, well, plunging to tasty glory. It is very fitting then, that the recent 2016 Canadian AeroPress Championship was held at the Toolshed Brewery in Calgary by the Prairie Coffee Collective.
Now, the Canadian AeroPress Championship may have been the second-to-last national championship to take place before the international showdown in Dublin, but it certainly isn’t one to be overlooked. After all, 2015 Canadian AeroPress Champion, Nick Hatch, took an esteemed second-place finish in last year’s World AeroPress Championships.
Organizers and volunteers for the 2016 Canadian AeroPress Championship got to work early in the morning the day of the event. Brave volunteers conducted a walk-through to determine the best stage for AeroPress brewing: A semi-rickety platform of wooden planks on a 2-axle flatbed, accessed exclusively by step-ladder ”would it work? After a few mock run-thoughs, it was decided that the risk was worth every reward. Thoughout the competition, round after round, all 36 competitors climbed up and down that ladder. The final cups were laid on top of wooden barrels. Now, whoever said the rodeo had gone from this town?
This year, Acme & Co. sponsored œPlunging towards Glory competition cups that would keep the coffee samples anonymous for judging until the color at the bottom was revealed. As we progressed through the rounds, the blue cup kept getting picked ”it must have been nine times out of 10, with only one or two of the green and grey being called.
Preparing for the competition is all about serious focus on one’s recipe and the components of the coffee. One trend this year was that most competitors brought their own water, whether it Evian, Voss, Alberta Springs, or a mix of the waters. The most interesting pressing techniques involved balloons rubbed on shirts to create static and attract chaff from the grinds; splitting up multiple extractions only to recombine them to the perfect balance of flavors; and using a water-filled Chemex atop the AeroPress to create the pressure for the press.
An excited audience filled the brewery, and coffee fans and professionals alike were captivated. Food, beer, and additional coffee was on offer from Corbeaux Bake House, Toolshed Brewery, and Deville’s mobile coffee cart. Though only Transcend Coffee was used for the competition, a selection of coffees from Canadian roasters were available for purchase, and a silent auction of specialty-coffee gear was held with all proceeds going towards sending the Canadian champion with to Dublin for the World AeroPress Championship.
After a few lively hours of plunging, tasting, and excitement, Eldric Kouzma of Aubade Coffee won third-place honors, with Brandon O’Shea and Jill Hoff, both of Monogram Coffee, sweeping the top 2, respectively. Canadians are excitedly looking forward to cheering on Jill from afar when she competes for her country in three weeks time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vania Ling is a passionate and creative food specialist. She has a BSc. in Nutrition and Food Science, and a brand-new MSc. in Food Policy, which developed her interest further up the coffee supply chain. She is fascinated by specialty coffee’s role in shaping the wider coffee industry. Vania spent the last 6 months getting to know her new home, Vancouver, B.C., and started a video series, œCoffee Friends. Previously she was in Dublin, Ireland, surrounded by amazing food and coffee, and where she worked at 3fe Coffeemanaging operations. Vania is fascinated by sensory experiences that hone the skills of the palate and incorporate her love of music. In recent projects, she has used food ingredients that thrive in the dark to create a sensory experience of tastes and smells to accompany the performance of musical works. Check out Vania’s blog at vanialing.com.