Coffee News: from Seed to Cup

Interview: How to Organise the 1st Ecuador AeroPress Championship

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This year, the Asociación de Baristas Profesionales del Ecuador, Café Vélez, and Jonathan Ramírez set out to organise Ecuador’s first ever AeroPress Championship. And they saw fantastic success.

800 people watched as over 30 competitors took part. They saw the competitors weigh, time, press, present – but only one could become the first ever Ecuadorian AeroPress Champion: John Cesar Romo Quelal of Lucia Coffee Shop.

Jonathan Ramírez was kind enough to speak to us about the event.

SEE ALSO: 5 Reasons Why Specialty Coffee Is Taking Off in Ecuador

Diego Escobar Tito making an AeroPress

Diego Francisco Escobar Tito gives it his best press – and places second.

The 2016 Ecuadorian AeroPress Championship: What Happened?

The Championship was held on May 7th and 8th, just three weeks after the devastating Ecuadorian earthquake (find out how the coffee community can support the rebuilding here), in Quito.

Leading figures in the Ecuadorian coffee community attended and/or judged. The judges were: Audrey Claeys of Veco Andino (Q Grader); Mauricio Rosero of Quinde Café (Q Grader); Ana Lucia Palacios of Quinde Café (Q Grader); Lupe Rogel Black Pearl, Taster for Galo Morales Caravela (Q Grader); Nelson Gusqui of CafeLogía (Q Grader); Vinicio Bastidas of CafeLogía (previous Barista Champion); and Karlha Echeverria of Uma Coffee (barista).

The event was sponsored by ConQuito, Quito Turismo, Café Vélez, Indurama, Cielito Tranquilo, Lucia Coffee Shop, Centro Comercial Paseo San Francisco, Caravela, Coffee del Embajador, and Coffee Spot.

The coffees being judged

The coffees being judged.

More Than Just an AeroPress Championship

Jonathan tells us they wanted “to make it attractive to both spectators and baristas” and so “tried to make it a full event”.

Guest coffee producers, a heart latte art throwdown, microbrews paired with chocolate, and a coffee in good spirits demonstration made sure that nobody would get bored.

Yet, of course, it was the AeroPress Championship that was the real star of the show.

Caro Madrid uses the AeroPress

Caro Madrid uses an AeroPress at the first Ecuador AeroPress Championship.

Innovative Brewing

Jonathan explains that the organisers asked competitors to choose between one of two coffees: a single origin and a blend.

Several competitors also opted for creative techniques and recipes in the hope of standing out. He tells us, “There were two recipes that caught our attention”. One competitor decided to cool their coffee in a shaker; another used two different grinds within the same recipe.

Competitions drive innovation, and that’s one of the reasons why they’re so important for the specialty coffee industry. We look forward to seeing even more experimental methods in future championships.

Jorge Luis Tuquinga stirs his AeroPress coffee

Jorge Luis Tuquinga, who placed third, opted for the inverted method.

Who Won?

The finalists were John Cesar Romo Quelal of Lucia Coffee Shop, Diego Francisco Escobar Tito of Dulcería Colonial, and Jorge Luis Tuquinga of L’Escoffier.  It wasn’t easy to choose a winner out of these three: in fact, for a while the judges were split 2-1. But in the end, John Cesar Romo Quelal was unanimously appointed the 2016 Champion.

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Diego Francisco Escobar Tito, John Cesar Romo Quelal, and Jorge Luis Tuquinga (left to right) with their trophies.

Reflecting on the Ecuadorian Coffee Scene

For Jonathan, this event is a watershed moment. “We know this will mark a before and after,” he says. “We are living in an environment in which all baristas, judges, producers, and assistants share the same energy, in which they know all of the work behind a cup of coffee.”

“The event came to life. It exceeded our expectations and we are very pleased to have organised it. We brought news of Ecuador to the whole world, and we will continue to host similar events. We want to raise the bar for Ecuador’s baristas.”

Group photo of everyone involved in the Ecuador AeroPress Championship 2016

The end of the first ever Ecuador AeroPress Championship.

With thanks to Jonathan Ramírez. All photos by Ecuador AeroPress.

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