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The England AeroPress Championship 2017

The England AeroPress Championship 2017

If you don’t know what an AeroPress is, then guess what: you’re not alone. This nifty invention might be one of the easiest, fastest ways to make delicious coffee at home, but it’s not generally known about, living in the shadow of its better known cousins the cafetière and stovetop . So you might be surprised to hear that the England AeroPress Championship – yes, it’s a thing – is a packed-out event. We headed to Ozone Coffee Roasters this weekend to find out what all the fuss is about.

Ozone started in New Zealand, but its London outpost feels right at home in the vibrant streets of Shoreditch. Stepping inside, we find ourselves instantly absorbed in the passion for coffee all around us – from the roasters and baristas officiating to the crowd who’ve turned up to watch, and the competitors checking and double-checking their equipment downstairs.

How to make an AeroPress coffee

The AeroPress was invented by Alan Adler in 2005, and its basic concept is simple: coffee is brewed in a central chamber, then pushed like a syringe through a paper filter, leaving a clean, utterly flavourful cup. Part of its appeal is down to its versatility, as the taste of your coffee can be affected by everything from the brewing time and ratio to the type of filter used, the speed at which the coffee is pushed through the filter, and even which way up you put the AeroPress.

So it’s no surprise to see all sorts of odd gadgets being used during the competition. Each competitor has 8 minutes to brew the same Colombian coffee in an unmodified AeroPress – the rest is up to them. One competitor uses a refractometer to measure the exact strength of his coffee, while others trust in their native barista instinct (one barista, Mikey, wins his round despite forgetting to put the kettle on). Ultimately the competition is whittled down from 23 competitors to just three; and as those battle-hardened brewers prepare to win everlasting fame and glory for their AeroPress artistry, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife and stir it around with a coffee scoop.

AeroPress Winner

The judges taste blind, and when it comes down to the final there’s one cup which stands out from the crowd. Paulina Miczka won the competition two years ago, and she’ll get to represent the UK once again this year as she travels on to the World AeroPress Championship in Seoul. All the same, she looks humbled as she accepts her trophy (which, inevitably, is shaped like an AeroPress). We catch up with her afterwards to ask the secret to her success.

‘Give the judges what they’re looking for,’ Paulina tells us. It seems obvious, but there’s a temptation to get distracted when brewing with an AeroPress and focus more on your technique than that final cup of coffee: Paulina always aims for a cup with lots of “juicy”, fruity flavours to get the judges’ approval. She introduces us to her boyfriend – the competitor with the refractometer – and explains that they’re a team: he tackles the science behind a brew, while she focuses on the practical side of brewing. ‘But it’s 35% luck,’ they assure us. Appropriately the couple met in a coffee shop (though he confesses to us that he actually prefers tea to coffee, especially the vibrant green tea Gyokuro).

In true Shoreditch fashion the competition finishes with local beatboxer Kimmy Beatbox performing a pretty breathtaking routine of beats, scratches and sub-bass effects. There’s an after-party, but we’re off home: all that cheering can be pretty exhausting, and – ironically – we’re in dire need of a coffee.

Till Next Year…

Fancy yourself as a budding barista? Not all the competitors were professional baristas, and one amateur even reached the final – pick up your AeroPress here  and get practising!

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