"Best Aeropress in the U.S."

Early last week I blogged about how Jay Caragay (of Spro) had become the first ever U.S. Aeropress Champion at SCAA 2012, doing Baltimore proud and raking in some sweet prizes along the way. Writing up that post and responding to your comments made me curious about Jay’s winning recipe, which involves a whopping 36 g. of coffee ground very fine and brewed using the inverted method. Here it is for ease of reference:

1. Start with 36 grams of coffee, ground to a “10” on a Compak R80 grinder.

2. Add 4.7 oz. hot water and stir. Brew for 1 minute.

3. [Re]vert and press.

4. Add water to 12 oz. total volume.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for my curiosity to get the best of me. This past Saturday, I stopped by Spro to taste the “best Aeropress in the U.S.” Doesn’t that sound like a roadside attraction?! Anyway, the Spro folks were recommending I try a natural-processed Brazil roasted by OQ coffee out of New Brunswick, NJ, and I happily took their advice. As my coffee was being made using the above recipe, I chatted with Jay for a minute about how the competition had gone down.

First, concerning the grind, here’s a visual aid for what “10” means (hint: look directly above the ibrik icon). I peeked behind the counter at one point to verify that the dial on the machine at Spro is identical to the one shown in this Google image. It is.

The way Mr. Caragay tells the story, he decided to compete only 15 minutes before showtime on a whim and had to call the shop from Portland to ask what recipe they were using at the moment. Talk about spontaneous!

Right after he won, Jay was sure to thank the hard-working baristas at Spro for having helped make his victory possible. I thought it would be fitting to take a picture of three of them (Martin Kasey, David Belew, and Monica Mirabile) showing off the golden Aeropress trophy, which immediately prior to this impromptu shoot had been perched on a high shelf next to other brew gadgets.

Turning to the coffee, itself, I was with friends while I drank it and didn’t fully geek out or pause to savor each sip, but I’ll say that I was very pleasantly surprised. Despite that mega-dose, the brew was well-balanced and creamy-smooth. Very sweet. I found the acidity more muted than OQ’s description might lead one to believe, but not overly so. While I’m almost certain Kenneth Davids doesn’t use an Aeropress to come up with his scores, I’m not shocked that these particular beans earned a 93 from him.

In short, thumbs up, people. If you’re feeling Aeropress-curious and not lacking for whole bean, mix it up Spro-style!

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