In this week's guest blog, Barista and Cafe Owner, Pedro Furtado (Cafe Zezin), takes us through his experience competing in the 2019 Canadian Aeropress Championship. Pedro shares his learnings, his competition recipe, and his perspective on mastering the specialty coffee craft.
All Photos By: Britney Townsend (britneytownsend.com)
Despite being Brazilian, I hated coffee for almost 40 years. I hated it because I was used to drinking ‘average’ coffee. So, when my wife decided to open our coffee shop, I quit the Ph.D. and started to learn more about the coffee shop market to join her in this adventure. That was the first time that I learned about specialty coffee.
I learned about Canadian Aeropress Championships back in 2018 and decided to compete myself because it’s a very affordable competition. Aside from the Aeropress and a few other tools (kettle, scale, etc) you don’t need a lot of investment upfront. So, for me it was a good and “cheap” opportunity to test my coffee knowledge.
I quickly learned that running a coffee shop and being a competitor at the same time is difficult. You plan your day to practice and study, then you may need to substitute a missing barista or manage the daily business. Because of life’s unexpected events, it can be complicated to create a practice schedule during the day. You can practice after the shop is closed, but this impacts the family time.
The Aeropress competition has two key requirements: 1) Everybody uses the same brewer (Aeropress) and 2) Everybody uses the same coffee; with the caveat that some rules may change from country to country. When I decided to participate at the Canadian Aeropress Competition (CAC), I started to study the types of filters (paper, cotton or metal) and the methods (classic or inverted), but I was never satisfied with the taste, the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), and the Extraction Yield results. So, I was still looking for a new recipe or coffee gear that could help me in that regard. This was when I discovered the KRUVE Sifter, and the impact on brewing shocked me. The consistency of a sifted coffee, with all the fines and boulders eliminated, completely blew my mind. It literally changed all my plans for the competition. Then, I focused on the water (chemistry and temperature) to create the coffee recipe.
For the CAC 2019, we were informed during the inscription that the competition coffee would be released at the competition day venue, 3 hours before the kickoffs, but my plan was to travel to Toronto and arrive the day of the competition. Otherwise, it would’ve been difficult for my wife to run the coffee, the kitchen (she’s the Chef), and take care of our son alone for more than 2 days. But 5 days before the competition, we were informed that the coffee would be released 1 day before. As I couldn’t arrive early, I spent the day before researching the coffee online and trying to study its farm and origin. The competition coffee was naturally processed Red Bourbon from El Mjahual Farm from El Salvador.
Arriving at the venue, I cupped the coffee and I found its key flavor notes: dark chocolate, juicy pear and brown butter. So, my game-plan was to brew a bold coffee with reduced bitterness - something that I would be happy to drink or to serve at Café Zezin to a client.
So, the 2019 Canadian Aeropress Championship second best Aeropress recipe was…
- Coffee weight: 18g (1:17)
- Grinder: Commandante C40 (22 clicks)
- KRUVE Sifter: between 500μm and 1100μm
- Water weight: 300g
- Water Temp: 80°C,
- Type of Water: Scott Rao recipe
- Metal Filter: Ameuus 20k
- Put the coffee grinded and sifted in the Aeropress, and pour 100g of water during 45 sec.
- Mix 6 times using the Kruve Brew Stick (the spoon side), until no resistance of the coffee ground in the bottom.
- Add 100g of water mixed 3 times (using the stick side) and put the cap.
- Press Aeropress lightly until all the air has been removed from the chamber.
- Bypass with 100g of water
- Flip at 3:00 and press steadily for 30 sec. into the serving vessel.
For those who don’t know, the Aeropress Championship is based on multiple rounds of 3 competitors and the judges select each winner by a blind taste test. I passed the 1st round and the semi-final by unanimity and lost the final round by 1 vote (1x2). In the end, I sipped the winner recipe, and it was a little bit bolder than mine. I suspect that I should’ve used the 400μm or maybe the 350μm sieve.
Personally, I prefer a thin sturdy brew stick instead of the one that came in the Aeropress kit because I prefer a continuous and uniform agitation versus a larger turbulence-style agitation. I found the KRUVE Multi-purpose Brew Stick is perfect for this, with the slight spoon-like tip and a solid metal base.
Competitions like this are a great way to master your craft and learn under pressure. If I didn’t compete, I wouldn’t have learned so much in such so quickly. This is great because I can take my learnings and implement them back at the shop for the clients. Competitions also help the coffee industry, whether via education, experimentation or improvisation, because we can serve the best coffee in a way that enhances the work of the farmers.