The 2022 NZ AeroPress Champs
I danced, I plunged, I had a great time.
It was a chilly spring morning in Tāmaki Makaurau. I was already awake when the local ruru starting scrapping it out with the tui and what sounded like a dog. I couldn’t sleep. Not this morning. It was the pressing day.
The 2022 New Zealand AeroPress Champs came around pretty quick. The time between locking in my entry and the big dance seemed to blur into a mish mosh of coffees, life admin, being sick and family time.
It was an exciting time and I was really looking forward to dusting off the AeroPress and giving some new things a try. Unfortunately for me, the motivation flew out the window the day the practice coffee turned up. I just didn’t vibe with this coffee at all. It wasn’t badly roasted or a dud bean, it just wasn’t my cuppa.
Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who didn’t vibe with the coffee. Maybe that was part of the challenge? To separate the chaff from the wheat. The professionals from the noobs.
I was already on the back foot.
Dialing in the grind
At 2pm, as the sun was beaming down on Grey Lynn, the AeroPressers turned up to get their competition swag and dial in the grind.
There was a weird energy around as competitors and their entourages crammed into the small loft at the back of Ozone Coffee Roasters. A mix of anticipation, nerves, confidence, over-confidence and excitement. No one was really quite sure what was going on, but one-by-one managed to figure out where to go and do some final checks on their routines.
It was an intimidating place to be.
Seeing everyone’s approaches, laid bare before you made it feel like being a kid again, standing at the top of the biggest waterslide on the hottest day of summer. All the bravado you had running up the stairs was gone, and you were staring down the barrel of what look like hundreds of meters of hyrdoslide action, while the girl you were trying to impress laughed because you were scared.
People sorted beans, tested total dissolved solids, ground their coffee on grinders I couldn’t even imagine owning. All while I tried to figure out how to use an EK43 and spilt coffee all over the place.
After the practice and a short trip out to Ponsonby for a beer, it was time to get the Press on with it.
Ozone Coffee Roasters is a rad place to visit - a massive industrial space where the kitchen sits pride of place in the middle of the room for everyone to watch. A great place to eat and drink coffee - a strange place to set up a stage, as there sort of wasn’t a great deal of space to check out the action. Turns out brewing coffee isn’t much of a spectator sport anyway, so maybe for the best.
My round rolled around and shit boi I was nervous. As an introvert, being in front of people is way out of my comfort zone. So I put on some headphones and put all of that nervous energy went straight into the groove. I had a blast.
I ground, poured, stirred, sifted, danced and plunged my way to glory.
Well, not glory. I didn’t make it past my heat. I plunged my way to a good time, not a long time.
It didn’t matter. I had a blast.
New friends, old friends, good times
The warm day turned back into a chilly spring night, as I yarned with my brother, caught up with old friends, made new ones and soaked up the ambiance (as my Dad would say) doing some people watching.
The event is sort of mad. A bunch of crazy people make coffee while a bunch more people hang out and have a great time. The concept should really work, but somehow the madness of it all makes it amazing.
Would I do it again? Yeah, I think I would. It’s a great time but an even greater event to be a part of.
And I got this cool picture of my competition brew. Could of spent more time focusing on the coffee making, but, as my daughter would say, aesthetic.