Wildcard entrant Isabella Willis of The Blessed Bean in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales is the 2018 Australian AeroPress Champion.
At 11am on 19 September Isabella decided to jump in a car with her husband Joshua and make the journey to Melbourne to compete in the Australian AeroPress competition. By 10pm, she was crowned the 2018 champion.
“Deciding to compete was about proving to myself that I had what it took to win. I’m not a hugely competitive person but I knew I could do it if I gave myself the opportunity to try,” Isabella says.
“I can’t believe I actually won. This is one of the best nights of my life.”
The space-themed national event saw regional AeroPress champions go head to head in a packed roastery at Seven Seeds in Victoria.
Isabella nearly didn’t make it. She and Joshua drove to the wrong Seven Seeds venue – its Carlton roastery instead of Fairfield – but made it just in time to compete in the wildcard round.
Things didn’t get much easier. For her first round performance Isabella’s AeroPress filter base wasn’t sealed properly and resulted in spilt coffee grounds all over the bench and into her cup. Thankfully, she says the judges assess based on taste, not look. It was because of her “delicious coffee” that put through to the next round.
Isabella says her approach coming into the competition was to keep things simple and make the type of coffee that she likes to enjoy.
She used coarsely ground coffee, low temperature water, and had a relatively long brew time.
“The aim was to keep things simple and the end result was juicy with notes of stone fruit and apricot.”
Isabella has worked in the specialty coffee industry for the past eight years, working in Newcastle, Singapore, Adelaide, Wagga Wagga and soon Brisbane. She is currently Head Barista at The Blessed Bean.
Two years ago Isabella competed in the South Australian AeroPress championship and watched Georgina Lumb win the regional title and go on to win the Australian Championships.
This year was her time to showcase her skills. It was a close final round with David Sharp, the South Australia Regional AeroPress champion of Acacia placing second, and Sangjin Park, a wildcard entrant, placing third.
Isabella will now compete in the World AeroPress Championship, taking place at Commune in Sydney on 17 November.
“I’m so excited,” Isabella says. “I can’t believe I’m going to compete in the World Championship on home soil.”