How Finland’s Tuomas Merikanto won the first – and hopefully last – virtual World AeroPress Championship

World AeroPress Championship

The World AeroPress Championship has crowned its first virtual winner while uniting the global coffee community at a time it needs it most.

What started as a playful pastime is now a worldwide phenomenon. The 2021 World AeroPress Championship (WAC) saw more than 40 national representatives vie for the title of World AeroPress Champion, held as a ‘Compete from Home’ event on 5 March.

Going virtual for the first time, the 48 competitors brewed their best recipe for the judges via surrogate baristas in Melbourne at Bureaux Coffee Roastery and Coffeebar.

The knockout tournament followed, with judges blind tasting each AeroPress coffee and picking the cup they found tastiest each round.

That honour consistently went to Finland’s Tuomas Merikanto.

“The Finnish AeroPress Championship was the first competition I’ve ever competed in,” Tuomas says.

“I haven’t been on the third wave coffee scene all that long. It wasn’t until I started working at Kahiwa Coffee Roasters a year ago that I really got into coffee. To go from having minimal knowledge on the subject to winning a world competition in such a short time is an honour.”

“All my thanks go to my gorgeous coaches [at Kahiwa Coffee Roasters]. Owners Joonas Reinikainen and Joonas Markkanen taught me everything I know and have been such an important part of my journey.”

All competitors used Third Wave Water capsules to add minerals to the distilled water. Tuomas, however, was the only competitor to use the Espresso Profile capsule, which is a 100 per cent espresso profile capsule.

“I would have liked to use the same recipe as I did in the Finnish AeroPress Championship because I liked it a lot, but it didn’t just come out right with this specific coffee, so I made adjustments to suit the brew,” he says.

Maru Mallee from the Netherlands won second place, and Brandon Smith from South Africa won third place.

Simon Gautherin, Australia’s World AeroPress competitor from Toby’s Estate, unfortunately did not make it to the quarter finals.

While the event was not open to the public, online coverage was accessible across the Bureaux Coffee and World AeroPress Championship platforms.

Event Organiser and CEO of Bureaux Coffee, Tim Williams, says at its heart, the World AeroPress Championship exists to bring coffee-loving people together in an open, inclusive, and fun environment.

“Over the last two years, that has been very difficult to do. We developed a remote competition format so that anyone around the world could still take part,” he says.

“Although it was spectator free, we shifted our focus to ensure it was broadcasted and made people feel connected to the global coffee community, while still keeping safe.”

Tim says what originally started as a joke when two coffee lovers decided who could brew the best cup of AeroPress coffee, has blossomed into a global sensation.

“The first competition took place in a small room in Oslo, with only three competitors. Like many simple ideas, the competition has since grown organically, and now spans 120 regional and national events taking place in over 60 countries,” he says.

“I think anything that starts as a joke and 14 years later has a following in 65 countries and tens of thousands of people involved has some significance of its own.”

Tim adds that while it’s nice to crown an AeroPress champion, the real value is coming to an event like the AeroPress Championship is the sense of unity between participants.

“When 60 different countries are all getting together, you’re all in the one room, spending time together, brewing coffee, learning from each other, it really fosters a huge sense of community. I think that’s why the AeroPress Championship has grown exponentially,” he says.

“And certainly, what we’re very much looking forward to is getting back to a face-to-face event for the 2022 Championship, and that chance for people to actually connect properly again.”

Each season now sees more than 3000 competitors involved, and despite its size, the competition remains a light-hearted pursuit.

Coffee Tools Distributing has been an exclusive Australia distributor of the AeroPress since 2006 and for the first time, sponsored the WAC.

“We’ve always been involved with the competition, especially at the Australian level, and have had a long working relationship with Tim. It’s important to our company to show our support for the brand and for the product, especially as they’re a local group running the competition,” says Coffee Tools Distributing Director Curtis Arnold.

“Tim does an excellent job running the event. We always try to attend the competition and participate in any way we can, while providing financial support. We appreciate its informal nature and see the value in its authenticity.”

Curtis says to have a worldwide event based around such a humble idea as making an AeroPress coffee, is a triumph.

“It’s pretty rare that you have a competition like this spring up around a product, especially a simple tool like the AeroPress. It’s really cool to be a part of this phenomenon,” he says.

“The competition is taken very seriously, but at the same time it’s a little bit tongue-in-cheek too. Nobody’s going home with a million dollars or anything like that. It’s a nice community event,” he says.

WAC Organiser Tim has worked with Curtis for many years to help create an entertaining coffee competition. Without support such as that from Coffee Tools Distributing, events such as the WAC cannot simply come to life.

“Coffee Tools Distributing have been the distributor of AeroPress in Australia for the entire time I’ve been running the championship, and they’ve been a constant source of support,” says Tim.

“Every time we come up with a different crazy idea of how we’re going to conduct the championship, and what we’re going to do and how we’re going to adapt it to keep it interesting, Curtis has always been incredibly supportive and has shown a lot of trust in our ability to put an event together that really connects with the coffee community.”

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This article appears in the April 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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