Friday 22 September 2017

Scottish Aeropress Championships - 2017

The annual Scottish Aeropress Championship is back.

On 27 September, 36 home and professional brewers will battle it out, armed with hot water, a bespoke coffee blend, a piece of plastic that looks like a plumber's offcut, and a bit of carefully timed elbow grease.

While this is a competition that doesn't take itself too seriously, winning is a huge endorsement of brewing prowess. Our Champion will jet off to Seoul for the World Aeropress Championships later this year.

While the aeropress makes a
smooth cup of coffee,
it's not going to win awards
for being aesthetically pleasing.
For those unfamiliar with the aeropress - it's a method of brewing coffee manually (i.e. without electricity) that involves pushing hot water through ground coffee, via a filter and into your cup. It was invented by Alan Adler who also created the Aerobie flying ring (that’s faster than a Frisbee) this post gives you a intro.

Scottish Championship organiser Dave Law from Brew Lab gave us the run down on what promises to be a great night - made even better by loads of friendly folk pitching up to cheer on our competitors! (book your ticket here)

Coffee & competition
Some action from the 2016 heats
  • Competition heats will take place during the day, opening up to the public at 6.30pm for two semi finals and the final
  • Eleven home brewers will compete this year which is quite a bit more than last year. The remaining competitors are professionals working for cafes and roasteries.
  • Competitors come from Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, Fraserburgh, Falkirk and more. Cairngorm Coffee have a strong showing with 5 competitors, Artisan Roast and Machina Espresso both with 3 competitors. Last year's winner James Aitken is back to defend his crown!
  • Judges this year are from the three roasteries that have provided the competition coffee. Emiliya Yordanova from Machina Espresso, Matt Carroll from Fortitude Coffee Roasters and Zach Williams from Williams & Johnson
  • Judges will be judging based on the simple criteria that is consistent across all Aeropress Championships globally: 'which cup would I prefer to drink all of'. Dave and the judges are also planning to involve random audience members if tie breaking is required.
  • Each heat is pretty quick - 8 minutes to be precise. After all it doesn't take a long time to brew a cup of coffee - but it's intense!
  • Competition coffee - photo kindly and unknowingly
    provided by Brew Lab's instagram feed, thanks!
  • All competitors use the same coffee and they're sent it in advance so they can practice prior to the big event. This year, organisers have taken the opportunity to showcase three great new Edinburgh roasters: Machina, Fortitude and Williams & Johnson who've produced a three-way blend. According to Dave from Brew Lab, "blends have pretty much disappeared from speciality coffee, but when you have really high quality single origins as the components, you can get some pretty special coffee too. Its going to be really complex and interesting."
More fun stuff that happens on the night
Brass Gumbo friendly faces - photo
snitched from their facebook page
but I'm hoping that's OK
  • Brass Gumbo will perform on the night - self described as "a musical melting pot of brass and percussion playing funk, jazz and more, all with a distinctly New Orleans flavour... this is feel-good music for the feet and the soul"
  • Baba Budan are doing their signature filled doughnuts, Jones and Son bringing their BBQ, Brew Lab will be making coffee cocktails and Barneys Beer and Pilot Beer will both be providing special coffee beers. 
  • Company Bakery will supply their super baking as well as providing ingredients for the avocado making competition which is back again! 
  • Local high end coffee accessory makers Made by Knock will have a merch stand and their new Aergrind grinder may make an appearance
  • Example Brew Lab coffee-inspired
    cocktail - doctored from their
    Ista feed
  • The event's main sponsor is Intelligent POS by iZettle, who will also be there doing demos. Without this amazing sponsorship and that of the other supporting sponsors, our Scottish Champion wouldn't be able to get to Seoul for the World Championships, so bravo to iZettle and other sponsor pals!
More about Aeropress Championships more generally

This year's poster is by Struan Bruce Sloan
This really is a cracking wee movement. Here's what appeals to me:
  • It's inclusive. Anyone can participate. Home brewers through to full time baristas
  • The World Aeropress Championships guidance is as follows: "At all times, your event should strive to be fun, inclusive and welcoming for competitors and guests alike. The World AeroPress Championship is about building community, making friends, and celebrating coffee. Use that ethos as your guiding light"
  • The rules are straight forward and, as I mentioned above, don't take itself too seriously, I draw your attention to two specific rules that underline this ethos: "On the count of three, all judges will point simultaneously, confidently, and definitively at the cup of their choosing." This means literally point their fingers at the cup they like best, no complex score sheets involved. and "Any competitor protests or appeals should be addressed to ‘just_try_to_have_fun_ok [at]'. Please do not expect a response." So you see what I mean. This is not about overly precious barista-ing.
  • And lastly, and one of my favourite things, is the emphasis on poster design. Any country that wants to host their country's Championship, has to design a poster. So every year, a fantastic new array of posters are created that are very cool. This year's Scottish Championship poster was created by illustrator Struan Bruce Sloan and it's well worth scrolling through posters from around the world.
So get yourself along on Wednesday night. You can book tickets here.

It'll also get you nicely in the mood for the upcoming Edinburgh Coffee Festival!

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