Local barista ready to take the plunge as Vancouver hosts World AeroPress Championship

Jeremiah Macadam, a barista at Vancouver's Nemesis Coffee, will represent Canada at the World Aeropress Championships. (Jon Azpiri/CBC - image credit)
Jeremiah Macadam, a barista at Vancouver's Nemesis Coffee, will represent Canada at the World Aeropress Championships. (Jon Azpiri/CBC - image credit)

At his day job as a barista at Vancouver's Nemesis Coffee, Jeremiah Macadam uses a Slayer-brand espresso machine, which weighs around 100 kilograms.

On Friday, Macadam will take part in an international coffee-making competition equipped with a plastic, syringe-like object that weighs around 400 grams.

Macadam will represent Canada at the World AeroPress Championship, taking place in Vancouver through Saturday.

The main event, which happens Friday at The Pipe Shop in North Vancouver, will see competitors from around the world try to make the best cup of coffee with an AeroPress, a cylindrical tube with a plunger and a silicone seal.

The AeroPress was created in 2005 by toy inventor Alan Adler, who was looking for a way to manually make a single cup of coffee. Macadam says he usually uses the AeroPress while camping or backpacking and has grown to appreciate its versatility.

Heather Barrett/CBC
Heather Barrett/CBC

"There's a bunch of different styles or ways that you can brew an AeroPress and that creativity really gives the barista the opportunity to highlight different flavours or really bring out what they want in that certain coffee," he said.

Several variables go into using an AeroPress, he said, including grind size, the quantity and temperature of the water, how long you let the coffee steep, how much you stir — or agitate — the coffee, and how hard you press down on the plunger.

What's Macadam's style?

"I love a fairly coarse grind and a lot of agitation," he said.

Captain Canuck

Grant Gamble, one of the championship's co-organizers, describes the event as a fast-paced elimination tournament where competitors have five minutes to make coffee using the same type of beans and an AeroPress before presenting their creation to a panel of three judges.

He says it differs from many coffee competitions that allow people to use different equipment and beans.

"It's a pretty even playing field, unlike many other coffee competitions where a lot of times it kind of feels like Formula One where [if] you have more money, more resources, you can tend to do better in competition," he said.

Once a champion is crowned, competitors will visit 10 coffee shops around Vancouver on Saturday to brew the winner's recipe.

Gamble says the championship started in 2008 when a group of friends in Norway wanted to see who could make the best cup of coffee.

From there it's grown to feature more than 3,500 competitors annually from dozens of countries. He says the championship does receive support from AeroPress, but is its own independent organization.

This year's championship in Vancouver will host competitors from 39 countries — including some from countries who are competing for the first time, including Uganda, Morocco and Oman. They're not all baristas, but come from all walks of life, Gamble says.

World AeroPress Championship
World AeroPress Championship

Macadam says he loves the competition. In this case, he'll be in the rare position of vying for a world title in front of a hometown crowd.

"My family is going to get to come watch. My wife will come watch ... and my close buddy is coaching me here," he said. "They called me Captain Canuck," he said.

So what advice does a competitive AeroPress user have for the average Joe looking to up their game?

Macadam recommends using a scale to measure coffee grounds. Those who don't have a scale should aim to fill their AeroPress with about an inch-and-a-half to two inches of ground coffee.

"Pour hot water over top, all the way to the top, give it maybe three stirs, put the cap on, let it sit 'til about a minute-and-a-half or two minutes, and then press it," he said.

"That'll probably produce a pretty decent cup of coffee."

World AeroPress Championship
World AeroPress Championship