I'm a big fan of the Aeropress coffee maker - it goes with me whenever I'm going to struggle to find a decent coffee ~ most hotels, music festivals, camping, foreign travel. I take a Rhinowares hand grinder tucked inside the Aeropress handle and a bag of Dusty Ape coffee (of course!)... so I was pretty hyped when Aeropress UK asked me to roast a coffee ideally suited to Aeropress to feature on their stand at the London Coffee Festival. As it happens Aeropress UK are fans of Dusty Ape too and we've been caffeinating their offices for quite a while -- so it seemed like the perfect collaboration.
As you'll read below, my enthusiasm for Aeropress deepened when I met the World Aeropress Champion -- not just for the convenience, it's a true speciality coffee brewer that delivers repeatable results.
But what to feature? I've sourced so many notable coffees recently including some prize winners, some stunning micro-lots and some regular favourites. Aeropress suggested we ask Panda (aka Paulina Miczka) - lead barista at Kaffeine in London who just happens to be the current World Aeropress Champion to help, so I set about organising a cupping session at the roastery.
I invited our favourite suppliers to send samples, alongside some direct from farm Brazils and sample-roasted 12 coffees. Between the team at Dusty Ape we cut the field down to a more manageable 8 coffees that we thought would suit the Aeropress brew method best.
Just one month before the London Coffee Festival - we threw our doors open to Panda, Aeropress UK and a few special guests. Around the table we had three Ethiopians (my favourite growing region), a Peru, a Kenyan, an El Salvador, a Mexican and one from Guatemala. Seven of the coffees were speciality scored, two were naturals, one a peaberry -- all excellent. After much noisy slurping, sipping and spitting - we voted our winners. 3rd place went to an excellent Kenya AA Peaberry 'Kisii', joint favourites were the Rwanda and the Guatemala El Mirador. We gave the casting vote to Panda and the Rwanda Kabuye was declared the winner.
After breaking for lunch washed down with a glass of Howler (American Pale Ale brewed with Dusty Ape Ethiopian Sidamo), we tweaked our water filtration, set the perfect grind on the EK43 grinder, broke out the refractometer (in true world-champ style!) and adapted Panda's Championship winning Aeropress recipe for the winner.
So what's the secret to making a great Aeropress aside from some decent beans? Let me share with you Panda's top tips for her world-beating recipe:
I knew the two winning coffees were both worthy candidates for the Coffee Festival - the Kabuye having one most arresting aromas I had encountered, highly fragrant of rose and sweet, dried fruit turning to fig on the palate. In contrast the Guatemala was a more familiar caramel with a dark-chocolate, orange note. I spent many long evenings developing the roast-profile to capture and lock in those characteristics for production roasting. I also tested Paulina's recipe many times and was pleased at how easy the Aeropress was able to reproduce the same favours in the cup, time after time and I was looking forward to demonstrating this at the festival -- much more repeatable than V60, or cafetière.
With a little help from local graffiti artist Steve, the Aeropress team constructed the coolest of exhibition stands.
And so to Shoreditch. Unperturbed by what has to be the least exhibitor-friendly venue in the whole of London (4 floors, 1 lift!), we made ready for the biggest ever London Coffee Festival. Our stand-art was unparalleled; our coffees unmatched and we turned-on many Aero-virgins to the joy of making speciality coffee in just a tad over 90 seconds.
Fear not -- although we sold out of whole bean Kabuye, you can still catch that amazing turkish-delight aroma pre-ground, and we still have a few orange-caramel Guatemalas left (beans and ground).... and since you managed to stay the distance to the bitter end of this blog post, you can be rewarded with a 14.286% discount. Find them here and enter code 6QUID at the checkout