Last month we opened the doors of our Holborn Coffeebar to a throng of competitors and coffee lovers, playing host to the 2014 UK Aeropress Championships. For the uninitiated, the Aeropress is a single serve coffee brewer that is escalating in popularity dramatically of late. Invented by Alan Adler (of the Aerobie Flying Ring fame), the Aeropress is the method that we use for by-the-cup coffee brewing in our stores, and we were subsequently very happy to co-host this year’s competition to find the best of the ‘Pressers in the UK, alongside our friends from Square Mile Coffee and CoffeeHit.
A whopping forty-two competitors, and as many onlookers again, showed up to an afternoon of disco, Kernel Brewery beer and Aeropress mayhem, all tightly scheduled and operated by a team of our retail managers and supervisors. Bags of a blend of African coffees from ourselves and Square Mile were waiting for competitors to collect and serve to judges James Bailey, James Hoffmann and special guest Klaus Thomsen.
Some took the challenge of brewing a blend of two coffees to heart, separating out the components and pairing each with a distinct grind size, before blending again to achieve a more uniform extraction when brewed. Others selectively picked and ditched one component entirely, defaulting to what they are more used to working with, not really entering into the spirit of the competition.
Excessive cooling of the brewed coffee didn’t generally pay off. Some competitors iced their cups, or decanted and aerated for a significant portion of their brewing time. Most of these suffered from flattened aromatics and murkiness. Several bowls were barely recognisable due to the choice of brewing water, especially in the case of a magnesium rich water which altered the aromatics and the acidity of the coffees entirely. There was a wide range of degrees of clarification, with some competitors intending to increase suspended solids, emphasising the length and weight of the brewed coffee. Others opted for more clarity, using cloth, multiple Aeropress filters, or thicker bond paper filters for better clarity and definition. Broadly speaking, the less ‘murky’ bowls cupped better.
After many rounds, and far too much coffee tasting for a Saturday afternoon, Gabrielle of Square Mile Coffee won 1st place, Oli of Workshop Coffee Co. placed 2nd, and Pete (also of Square Mile) placed 3rd.
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For more information on the World Aeropress Championships, visit www.worldaeropresschampionship.com