This article is in today’s Cape Times SA, Mon 4 Sept, 2018
On Sunday 22 September, the South African leg of the World AeroPress Championship took place at the Bello Studio at the Old Biscuit Mill in Salt River hosted by Espresso Lab Microroasters in front of a lively audience of coffee aficionados.
At its heart the multi-elimination round World AeroPress Championship (W.A.C), established in 2008, is a global coffee-making competition that is run by independent hosts annually in sixty countries, designed to find the world’s best cup of AeroPress coffee. As with every city in which the W.A.C takes place, it brings coffee-loving people together in an open, inclusive, and fun environment. “We want the competition to be transparent, fun and a as freestyle as possible, so we have the same predetermined coffee for all competitors so that the judging will be based on the style of brewing, and not on the coffee”, said organisor Helene Vaerlien.
The AeroPress, invented in 2005 by American inventor Alan Adler, may not look like the typical coffee maker, but its versatility has taken the coffee world by storm in recent years, being easy to use and combining immersion-based brewing (like a French press) with pressure-based brewing into one easy-to-use and affordable contraption that home brewers and coffee professionals all over the world have adopted.
Each competitor in the SA tournament received a 250g bag of coffee to practice with ahead of the event, plus another on the day. The rules allow all competitors to bring their own grinder, kettle, scale, water, non-standard filters and any other equipment, however a set competition kit of Baratza grinder, Brewista kettle, Brewista scale and Aerobie AeroPress is available for use on the day of the competition and no modifications to the AeroPress are permitted.
This year thirty people registered to take part via @espressolab on Instagram. The eighteen who made the cut through a draw -four of them women- hailed from Cape Town, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Durban. In each round, three competitors faced off against each other, simultaneously preparing and brewing a single cup of coffee in precisely eight minutes which was then presented in identical vessels to the three judges, Renato Correia from Espresso Lab Microroasters (head judge), Winston Douglas (2016 AeroPress champion) and Nina Dutiot (Junior sous chef at The Test Kitchen), who evaluated based on taste, personal preference and without knowing which cup belonged to whom. In explaining what the judges were looking for, Renato said, “We want the coffee to be smooth in the mouth, showcasing its clarity and fruitiness, avoiding a bitter taste which tends to dominate and make coffee too astringent – the cleaner the coffee, the more full in the mouth and the sweeter it becomes.”
After two exciting semi-final rounds the top two AeroPressers were chosen and went head to head, with Romeo Chimunya of Tribe Coffee emerging as the overall winner and Machiel Lefebre Carstens of Royal Roastery coming in second.
Immediately after the tournament an auction of exceptional coffee products and paraphernalia was held to raise the funds needed to help get Chimunya to the World AeroPress Championships in Sydney Australia in November 2018. www.worldaeropresschampionship.com for more info.