Chris Heiniger of Louisville, Kentucky is the 2015 Eastern Aeropress Champion. The regional competition was hosted on January 31st by Louisville micro-roaster Quills Coffee in partnership with Prima Coffee. Eighteen baristas and coffee enthusiasts from as far as Toledo, Ohio to Washington D.C. participated in the bracket style competition. Heiniger, who competed representing Misc. Goods Co., defeated Dmitriy Zhigunov of Williamsburg, Virginia in the final round. Coffee blogger Brian Beyke took home the prize for third place. Heiniger, Zhigunov, and Beyke all earned a spot at the national championship, which will happen contemporaneously with the US Barista Championship in Long Beach, California.
Heiniger is no stranger to longtime readers of The Compass. An entrepreneur working in the energy sector, he also moonlights as a coffee consultant, inventor, and is an avid home roaster. His article defending the practice of home roasting ranks among the best opinion pieces we’ve ever published. Heiniger is a true polymath who in many ways reminds us of the Aeropress’s inventor, Alan Adler.
Heiniger’s competition recipe used 22 grams of Ethiopia Kochere Zonegediyo, 200 ml of 183.5 F water, and followed the following directions.
- Normal Aeropress configuration, Able Brewing Disk Fine Filter
- Grind coffee at 28 setting on Baratza Encore (very coarse)
- 30 ml, 30 second bloom
- Pour remaining water, finishing at 1:15
- Cap plunger and pull up to create suction
- Press at 2:45 finishing at 3 minutes.
Perhaps the most memorable moment in the evening came in the semifinal round, in which Heiniger temporarily misplaced his Aeropress. After a frantic search that encompassed most of the crowded café, Heiniger found it in the nick of time, narrowly avoiding disqualification for going over the eight minute time limit. In the final round Heiniger’s cup was chosen by unanimous decision of the judges, a panel which included Rachel Lehman from Crema, Steve Rhinehart of Prima Coffee, and Lee Sill from Barista Parlor. The presiding head judge was Chris Deferio of Sunergos.
The three finalists took home an impressive array of prizes generously donated by Baratza, Mahlkönig USA, Acaia Coffee, Able Brewing, Ancap USA, and Aerobie. The travel sponsors Sunergos Coffee, Prima Coffee, and Quills Coffee will cover the champion’s traveling expense to the national competition.
The Eastern Aeropress Championship was by far the largest gathering of coffee professionals that’s taken place in Louisville. Considering the local scene is mostly known for its devotion to latte art, it was encouraging and inspiring to see a competition built around flavor and extraction draw such a big crowd. The ripple effects will be felt for a while, but now all eyes turn to the US Aeropress Championship to see how the ERAC finalists fare on the national stage