What happens when competitors from 60 countries gather in Sydney for an epic showdown of AeroPress mastery? You fire up the barbeque, crank the tunes, and turn it into the sausage sizzle of the year, of course!
When we put up our hands to host the NSW AeroPress Championship in 2016 & Australian AeroPress Championship in 2017, we never would have guessed it would lead to hosting Worlds. Yet this past Saturday, November 17th, we found ourselves at COMMUNE, mingling with over 700 coffee & food lovers as experts battled it out on stage for the title of World AeroPress Champion.
The weekend began on Friday, with a jetlag-taming kickback for our foreign friends. We met for coffees at our Surry Hills café and spent the afternoon at the Clovelly Lawn Bowls Club, knocking back cold ones on the green. Saturday morning started with the reveal and cupping of the comp coffee Mugaya AA, Kenya, followed by the competition prep, and finally the big event, which commenced with a stunning Welcome to Country performed by David Barnett.
This year’s championship was full of firsts. While previous competitions have allowed access to the competition coffee days in advance, this year’s showdown involved an extra challenge — competitors had a mere four-hour timeframe to perfect their recipes using the Mugaya AA, Kenya. And unlike past years, which left spectators dying of curiosity over what the judges tasted on stage, this year’s event funnelled competitors from stage to a Brew Bar where they pressed one last time for the punters. For those fancying espresso, the competition Kenyan, as well as our climate-resilient Starmaya, were also served on the new LaMarzocco ModBar, which had equipment groupies lining up for a first taste.
The judging panel, comprising of rockstars from La Marzocco, Café Imports, ACME & Seven Seeds, kept the crowd buzzing with their high spirits and unwavering concentration. Our Wendy De Jong acted as head judge, tasting any coffee that resulted in a tie. “It was really fun having the Mugaya AA as the competition coffee.” said Wendy on the night, “We wanted the coffee we selected to be complex enough to taste great brewed lots of different ways, and this coffee really delivered! It made the judging challenging for sure!”
The competition took place in 29 rounds, leading to a final spar between Belarus, China and the USA. In the ring for Australia was Queenslander Isabella Willis, whose spontaneous four-hour drive to regionals has become the stuff of legends. Though Willis didn’t make it to the finals, she certainly made us proud, bringing her bright, vivacious energy to the stage. In the end, USA barista Carolina Ibarra Garay took home the gold, with Clay Zhang of China and Evgeni Pinchukov of Belarus winning silver and bronze. Garay, who travelled from in California, was moved to tears by the win, and her final cup was described as standing out for capturing all the complex acidity and citrus, whilst also showcasing an incredible sweetness and syrupy texture.
Want in on Garay’s secret? The winning recipe can be found here!
While the head-to-head coffee plunging took place on stage, our friends from Rising Sun Workshop, Boon Café and Rocker gave our guests from far and wide a true Aussie welcome in the form of a global-inspired sausage sizzle. Their worldly creations were washed down by Moon Dog tinnies, Tippler’s Tap Killer Brown coffee-beer collab, kombucha from The Captain Beard, followed by The Cow & The Moon gelato pavlovas for another taste of Australian culture. Curating the aural mood was ForeignDub’s DJ Blackhawk, who got feet moving to afro beats between rounds and provided an amped-up soundtrack for the madness on stage.
A huge thank you to the fine people at W.A.C. & all the sponsors who made this event possible! We love the community built around the World AeroPress Championship; the competition is more fun than fierce, and the coffee-crazed from around the world have the chance to rub shoulders with kindred spirits. Isabella Willis described the 2018 experience as “the world’s greatest 2-day party that just happened to have a coffee competition in it” – we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Big thanks to our event photographer Declan McWhinney for capturing our fave moments & one more round of applause for the following: Acme & Co., Amor Perfecto, Baratza, Barista Magazine, Bonavita, Brita, Café Imports, La Marzocco, Mahlkonig, Modbar, Oatly, OXO, Collective Roasting Solutions, Rising Sun Workshop, Boon Café, Rocker, The Cow & The Moon, Tippler’s Tap, Berkelo, Moondog Brewing, The Captain Beard.