The unlikely history of the World AeroPress Championship

In its first incarnation, the World AeroPress Championship, held at the Tim Wendelboe coffeebar in Oslo, could only charitably be described as an understated affair. There were just three competitors, a token prize, and cake at the end. Eight years later, with events running in over fifty countries and a global field of competitors nearing two thousand, the World AeroPress Championship is a very different story.

Foreshadowing the advent of the Brewers Cup, the World AeroPress Championships were focused on the brewing of black filter coffee, reflecting a steadily increasing interest in this side of the coffee world. At the time, the existing contests were solely judged on espresso-based drinks, with any presence of black coffee being mere ingredients or add-ons in the presentations (the Cup Tasting Championship being a notable exception).

Photo Credit: Chris Colbu

While the bigger events, such as the World Barista Championship and its competitive offshoots of Latte Art, Coffee and Alcohol and Cup Tasting were becoming increasingly solemn, serious and costly to enter events, the World AeroPress Championship went in a different direction.

Fast, fun, and light-hearted

The format of the competition was designed around these three tenets, and while it has grown larger and slightly more complex with every passing year, it still remains focused on being an engaging, quick paced and enjoyable format for competition.

The goal of the contest is simply to identify the brewer of the tastiest cup of coffee possible, made using the Aerobie AeroPress. In earlier years, the coffees used were standardised, and showcased a huge variety of different brewing methods that expanded a lot on what had previously been a quite narrow range deemed an “optimal” extraction. Judging by taste alone, a panel of three judges must simultaneously point toward their preferred cup out of the three presented in each round, with the winner proceeding to the next round while the other two entrants are knocked out.

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National championships have evolved into lively and spirited affairs with an impressive audience turnout, and are usually accompanied by a DJ, street food vendors and, in a lot of regions, free beer for spectators (and competitors). Alongside the event itself the design and publication of a national championship poster has developed into a competition of its own, with an incredible amount of time and effort being dedicated to turning a simple announcement flyer into a work of art.

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Plunging headfirst towards glory

Since 2010, the World AeroPress Championship Final has coincided with the WCE’s World Barista Championship schedule, in an effort to ensure that participation and attendance are readily available to as many interested parties as possible. In its earlier years, the competition was typically held within an hosting organisation’s premises or party, but the final in Seattle in April, 2015 saw the competition break away from this format. Hiring a 3,000 square foot event space and furnishing it with a stage, lighting rig, food trucks and free beer establishing the event as a standalone affair attracting over 500 party-goers, and a draw card in its own right.

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Today, the World AeroPress Championship is organised and delivered by Tim Varney — one of the competition’s founders — and Tim Williams, and operates from its headquarters in Melbourne, Australia. It is enthusiastically supported by, but wholly independent of, Aerobie, Inc. — the manufacturers of the AeroPress.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Chai (http://www.chai.coffee)
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Chai (http://www.chai.coffee)

The World AeroPress Championship is owned and operated by World AeroPress Championship Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 608 506 207), and is registered in Melbourne, Australia.