I recently had a rare opportunity to pick the brains of dozens of world-class AeroPress brewers when the 14th World AeroPress Championship came to my hometown of Vancouver.
You never want to waste that kind of access to great coffee minds, but I also wanted to make sure I asked the right questions.
So naturally, I turned to Reddit.
The AeroPress subreddit is a 29,000-strong community of dedicated AeroPress brewers. I asked them what they would ask an AeroPress champion if they had the chance. Then, I went out and got the answers.
The 29 people you’ll hear from below are almost all national champions. A few attended the Vancouver competition as alternates, because the first-place finishers from their countries couldn’t make it. I was able to reach some of those champions remotely.
My first question was…
Do You Work in Coffee?
Of the 18 who do work in coffee, 11 are baristas or trainers. Five are roasters at least some of the time. There was also an importer, a sales rep, and other café staff.
Now let’s get to Reddit’s questions…
Traditional or Inverted?
The inverted method was the runaway winner here. Most cited better control as the main reason for their preference.
“Inverted suits my process and the way I approach brewing with the AeroPress. I usually work with temperatures below 80 C and a little coarser grind, and I need as precise control as I can get over ratio and steep time, eliminating the drip-through.”
— Rafal Walczak, Sweden
“I prefer the traditional method as the turbulence caused from the inverted method when flipping the AeroPress has an effect on the extraction.”
— Tio Jung, New Zealand
What is Your Process for Developing a Recipe with a New Coffee?
Let’s start here with Wendelien van Bunnik, the 2019 world champion from Netherlands who was head judge at this year’s competition.
On Day 1 of the event, she ran through her own process on stage for all to see.
- Start with 16 grams of coffee and 230 grams of 97 C water. Inverted method.
- Start the timer and stir three times back and forth.
- Steep for one minute.
- Flip and press slowly.
- Evaluate your first brew for some feedback.
Brewing with the official championship coffee, a washed striped red bourbon from Finca Juan Martin in Colombia, van Bunnik found her first brew to have nice body, but otherwise imperfect.
Problem: A little dry and bitter.
Corrections: Increase dose to 18 grams. Grind a bit coarser.
The second brew was better, with some acidity and a bit of fruitiness, but still not great.
Problem: A bit thin and still a bit dry. Needs more sweetness.
Corrections: Increase grind size slightly. Reserve 30 of the 230 grams of water to add after brewing (bypass). Switch to traditional method to get rid of dry taste.
Van Bunnik was happy with the third brew. Nice acidity, good structure, sweetness, and the dryness was all gone. She passed the recipe along to the brew bar so the audience could have a taste. (I was happy with it, too.)
Now let’s hear from some of the competitors…
“I have one method to brew AeroPress. This method is called 237 because the weight of all water and ground coffee is 237 grams together. The only thing I change is the size of grind and amount of coffee. But the reference is 100 ml of water, 18 grams of coffee (25 clicks on the Comandante grinder), and then top with water to 237 grams altogether.”
— Marcin Zakrzewski, Poland
“I would start with a ratio of 1:13-1:15, 88-90 C and about two minutes approximately. I think that it’s a good way to start.”
— Marios Makaris, Greece
“I usually start with 11g/200ml, which derives from the SCA golden ratio standard of 55g/L. This gives me a pretty good idea of the characters of the coffee in terms of body, flavors, acidity, etc. I then adjust my grind size and ratio to tune the body and flavors.”
— Anson Wong, Hong Kong
“I’d start pretty simple—coarse and agitation. Go for clarity first! See what the coffee can be then fine-tune one variable at a time.”
— Jeremiah Macadam, Canada
If You Were Brewing for Yourself Instead of Judges, What Would You Do Differently?
“Nothing. I try to make a cup of coffee that I would like rather than trying to guess the judges’ tastes and preferences.”
— Ben McKendry, Northern Ireland
“I somehow like a little under-extracted coffees. Trying to not do that for the judges.”
— Sona Musa, Switzerland
“I would use less coffee and no dilution.”
— Rowan Markey, Ireland
“No bypass, just a straight up pour, all in one.”
— Simon Derutter, Belgium
“I would panic and stress way less!”
— Simo Niiranen, Finland
What Are Your Favorite Beans for AeroPress Brewing?
- Øystein T. Berntsen, Norway: “Washed American coffees. Light roast. Round and sweet.”
- Maria Silletti, Italy: “Natural Ethiopian coffee, because I love the acidity and fruit notes.”
- Maru Mallee, Netherlands: “Washed Kenya. It’s juicy, bright acidity, but also high enough sweetness that it doesn’t just taste like a cup of lemon juice.”
- Tio Jung, New Zealand: “A washed Ethiopian coffee. The high body that the AeroPress offers balances well with the Ethiopian coffees’ floral notes, easy-to-drink acidity and sweetness.”
- Rowan Markey, Ireland: “Kenyan beans make a really juicy AeroPress.”
- Evgeni Minchev, Bulgaria: “I enjoy high-altitude light roasts such as Gesha.”
- Yoshikuni Tachikawa, Japan: “Kenyan coffee. It’s so juicy.”
- Calum Taylor, Denmark: “Ethiopian for complex and floral flavours”
- Mel Aguillon, England: “I tend to like a good washed, ’cause AeroPress can give it that extra body that it sometimes needs.”
- Luke Speers, U.S.: “The funky stuff! Getting super high-extraction yields and tasting all the fun. Really anything that’s special I brew on AeroPress.”
What is Your Favorite AeroPress Accessory?
Very few of these champions use accessories. Most of them consider the AeroPress a perfect brewer with no need for accessories.
A couple of folks put in a good word for the Fellow Prismo, and a couple others liked the Aesir filter. Comandante grinders were popular with many.
“The stirrer. I overlooked it in the beginning, but it has shown its worth. The design lets you do very gentle stirring compared to a spoon. In my experience the paddle design works better to extract all the coffee grounds.”
— Simo Niiranen, Finland
How Do Your Brew Your Daily Coffee at Home?
“I’m ashamed to admit that at home I’m using a regular automatic drip coffee maker,” said Polish champion Marcin Zakrzewski.
No shame in that, Marcin—as long as it’s a Moccamaster. (Just kidding.)
Most of these champions like to mix it up. Many dabble in pour-over—V60, Kalita, Clever and Origami drippers featured prominently in their answers. There were a couple of moka pot fans, and of course, plenty who brew with an AeroPress.
Indonesian champion Andika Pratama said he never drinks coffee at home. Tio Jung of New Zealand was the same, saying he gets enough of it at work.
But at least those guys drink it.
“You won’t believe me, but I don’t usually drink coffee. I rarely do,” admitted Venezuelan champion Josep Mendez.
“I just got a new espresso machine and am kind of obsessed with it. I also have a lever that helped me to understand a lot about coffee. But the AeroPress never disappoints, and keeps me very interested in exploring coffee and taste.”
— Evgeni Minchev, Bulgaria
What Do You Order at a Café When Somebody Else is Brewing?
For many champions, this came down to trust in the café. They had their favorite orders, but they’d go in a completely different direction if they didn’t know the place, or if it seemed sketchy.
“Depends on the location! If I don’t trust the barista it’s a cappuccino, and if it looks reasonable then a nice filter.”
— Sona Musa, Switzerland
“Drip coffee. If the drip is really good, I’m trying espresso. But when the place is really strange and I don’t have any trust but really need coffee, I’m going with a cappuccino or flat white.”
— Marcin Zrkrzewski, Poland
Anson Wong preferences depend on how much faith he has in the café, and are really best captured in a chart:
Anson Wong’s Coffee Ordering Cheat Sheat
|Faith in café||Order|
Let’s finish with a final chart featuring the favorite orders of all who took part:
|Jerald "Jao" Austero||Philippines||Espresso flight or duet|
|Marcin Zakrzewski||Poland||Drip coffee|
|Faris Alduraibi||Saudi Arabia||Aeropress or Clever|
|Ben McKendry||Northern Ireland||Espresso|
|Rowan Markey||Ireland||Americano or filter|
|Rafal Walczak||Sweden||Black coffee or espresso|
|Jaewon "Tio" Jung||New Zealand||Milk coffees on rainy days, or espresso|
|Maru Mallee||Netherlands||Batch brew|
|Marios Makaris||Greece||Espresso doppio or V60|
|Peter Budenz||Germany||Mostly batch brew|
|Maria Silletti||Italy||Double espresso and filter coffee|
|Øystein T. Berntsen||Norway||Black filter coffee|
|Josep Mendez||Venezuela||Vanilla latte|
|Anson Wong||Hong Kong||Long black or espresso|
|Alex Njoroge||Kenya||V60 or ristreto|
|Romario Syahri Yunior||Oman||Espresso, piccolo, filter coffee|
|Andika Pratama||Indonesia||Flat white|
|Simo Niiranen||Finland||Flat white|
|Mel Aguillon||England||Pour over or espresso|
|Mohamed Moustafa||Egypt||Cortado, V60 or AeroPress|
|Sona Musa||Switzerland||Cappuccino or filter|
|Jeremiah Macadam||Canada||Filter or cappuccino|
|Yoshikuni Tachikawa||Japan||African filter coffee|
|Calum Taylor||Denmark||Espresso or pour over|
And there you have it—the coffee secrets of the 2022 AeroPress champions!