Here's a little report on the EAC.
What an amazing turnout at the first Exeter Aeropress Championships held at The Exploding Bakery on Queen Street on 12th January. Eighteen competitors, some in it to win it, some just in it but everyone there to have fun and get a first hand experience of speciality coffees ‘outlier’ competition.
For a little background into how the World Aeropress Championships came about, we need to go back to 2008 in Oslo at the iconic Tim Wendleboe cafe. In the vein of the Baseball 'World Series' TW decided to have a little fun and announce the first World Aeropress Championships. There were three competitors, yes, just three. Two baristas at the cafe and one regular customer from which the first World Champion was crowned.
These days it's become the 'cool' specialty coffee competition, on the fringes and not recognised or ratified by the Speciality Coffee Association. On the front page of the official World Aeropress Championships site it says: “At it’s heart the World Aeropress Championships exist to bring coffee loving people together in an open, inclusive and fun environment. Surrounding the competition itself you can expect beer, music, and good times. Yes it’s serious.. it’s just not that serious”
I know we’re not quite in the league of the World Champs but I think our little EAC met the brief pretty well with some banging beats, booze, plenty of support and lots of fun and some delicious food courtesy of Ollie and Joe.
I judged alongside my good friends Tony and Joe both baristas at Exploding. Luckily we cup together frequently so knew we were pretty well calibrated. Some of the heats were easy to judge with a clear winner, others not so. I roasted that coffee (Suke Quto washed Guji from Ethiopia) and the three of us had decided it would be a good coffee to use for the competition, clean and floral. We kept the identity of the coffee a secret in the build up so that competitors had no pre-conceptions.
What was amazing was how different it tasted during the competition. Some super sweet and creamy, some thin and bitter. At the heart was the same coffee, brewed with the same device but with varying recipes in terms of dose, grind size (and sifting), water temp (and water composition since some brought their own water), steep time, brew ratio etc. That’s one of the beauties of this cheap portable brewing device, how incredibly versatile it is.
One cup shone through all rounds and the winner was rightly crowned. Richie from Calypso Coffee in Torquay made that coffee taste super sweet with a creamy body and balanced acidity.. every time.
I noticed a couple of things with Rich’s preparation, he dosed heavily, sifted the grounds with a little tea strainer, and set the pouring kettle at a very low 82C. I asked him to give me his recipe and here it is:
200ml water at 82C
1.45 brew time.
I know we’re a long way behind our big South West cousin Bristol and our bigger uncle London town when it comes to getting the speciality coffee community together but we’re doing it. Small steps.
The entry list for next years Exeter Aeropress Championships isn’t open yet but I’ve got a feeling it’ll fill up quickly when it does !