Japan AeroPress Championships 2016

The speciality coffee industry is still young here in Tokyo, but is growing rapidly. Most everyone who has embraced this trend know one another. There’s more of a feeling of camaraderie than that of competition between third-wave cafes. And, as if to commemorate making it this long in a country known for fads that explode and than fizzle, the 2016 Japan AeroPress Championship was an exciting one. This event was the 5th championship held in Japan so far and it had an air of celebration. It had all the makings if a good party: A dress code (party), a DJ, appetizers, beer, and party games… well, not games actually, just a national coffee competition.

FinalRound
Final Round of Japan AeroPress Championships 2016

The event took place at The Roastery by Nozy Coffee, one of Tokyo’s most popular espresso spots, and attracted a crowd of excited coffee lovers. The Roastery has a central island as its cafe workspace and within that circular hub the competitors ground, poured, stirred, and pressed their way towards glory. All together there were 27 participants who sparred in groups of three. The spectators crowded around the narrow sides of the bar and cheered on the baristas on for nearly 5 hours while Japanese coffee legend Takashi Horiuchi of Cafe Vivement spun the soundtrack for the evening. The beans were a Costa Rican natural process “Perla Negra” from Las Lajas roasted by The Coffee Factory.

The judges of the event were some of the communities coffee greats. Toshiaki Ishii of Amameria Espresso was the head judge. The other three judges included the head roaster of the ever popular Fuglen Tokyo, Kenji Kojima as well as 2014 World AeroPress Champion Shuichi Sasaki of Paul Bassett and 2015 Japan AeroPress Champion Tetsu Kasuya of The Coffee Factory.

Judges2
The Judges Point to the Winning Cup

The competitors each had 8 minutes in this multi-round elimination style tournament to complete their brew. The cup of coffee presented to the judges had to be a minimum of 200ml  (about 6.7 ounces) and a genuine Aerobie AeroPress had to have been used. There were no disqualifications at this event, but the night held a few surprises. There was some initial trouble with the hot water supply which was eventually sorted out. The competitors used everything from full sized espresso grinders to hand mills. There was even a large yellow wig that was sighted on one participant while another barista competed on crutches. At the end of the night only three could be left standing and here are the results:

The winner of the evening was Takayuki Miyazaki of Light Up Coffee. Miyazaki came off as quiet and humble in his win. He was focused throughout the rounds and kept his cool despite being dressed in a button-up shirt and blazer. A precise barista through and through, Miyazaki’s win is well deserved.

 

Using a Kalita Nice Cut Mill grinder (setting #4),18 grams of coffee, and an inverted AeroPress Miyazaki won with this recipe:

  • Add 50 ml water at 90ºC
  • Stir, then wait 30 seconds
  • Add water at 70ºC to 250 ml
  • Press for 40 seconds

Second place was former Nozy Coffee barista Hitomi Higurashi, who has since moved out of the coffee industry and on to office work. Clearly she still is passionate about her former trade. Her former co-workers were there in force and were visibly excited to see her make it to the final round.

Using a “Mirukko” Fuji Royal R-220 grinder (setting #6) and 22 grams of coffee, Higurashi followed this recipe:

  • Add 50g of water at 93ºC
  • Stir, then wait 30 seconds
  • Add water to 250g until the 1:00 mark
  • Stir 3 times
  • Remove 3 spoonfuls of coffee foam from the top
  • At 1:15 press for 30 seconds

In third place was Takeshi Kondoh, whose cafe will be opening this spring. Kondoh used a “Mirukko” Fuji Royal R-220 grinder (setting #3), 19 grams of coffee, and ionized alkaline water.

  • Add 60g of water at 85ºC  for 20 seconds
  • Stir 6 times
  • Add water for 40 seconds to 170g
  • Stir 6 times
  • Press for 40 seconds

All of the winners’ methods are straight forward and easy to follow, so why not try them all yourself? Which recipe do you prefer?

 

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