Maru Mallee had his eye on the World AeroPress Championship for a while before throwing his hat into the ring in the 2019 Dutch AeroPress Championship. After getting "absolutely destroyed" in the first round of that competition, as he put it, he worked hard, polished his skills, and ended up placing second at the 2021 World AeroPress Championship!
Maru recently shared his thoughts with us on his biggest inspirations, the perfect refreshment on a hot summer day, and why it's so important not to get too attached to a specific brewing recipe.
Want to try Maru's winning recipe for yourself? See the end of this post!
Photo courtesy of World AeroPress Championship.
How did you get involved in the World AeroPress Championship?
The first year I got involved was in 2019, at the Dutch AeroPress Nationals. At that point I had about 4 years of experience working as a barista. I was feeling pretty good about myself, and was curious to test my skills in a competitive setting. The reality was not quite what I had envisioned; I got absolutely destroyed in the first round. I tried the other competitors' coffees and I had to admit that my coffee was the worst by far.
The first time I became aware of the existence of the AeroPress Championships was 3 years earlier though. I had just started working for Reuben Hills (one of the top dogs in the Sydney specialty scene at the time), and the Head Barista there mentioned it in passing. At the time I was a young lad, still naive and optimistic, but from where I stood, the AeroPress Championships seemed like the coolest thing ever. A gathering of coffee nerds, where everybody puts their skills to the test, and their egos on the line. To see who gets to represent their scene in the world finals, putting their country and city on the specialty map. Ever since then, it was always in the back of my mind to try it myself one day.
What was the inspiration behind your recipe?
On the practical side, the rules had changed in 2021 from prior years. Most significantly, the Dose was capped at 18g and the minimum Yield decreased to 150ml. So I used these parameters as a starting point.
On a more sentimental note, I've been lucky to have had the opportunity to work with some amazing coffee professionals over the last 6 years. Everyone of them had a point of view, and approach to extracting coffee. I don't just mean that they had good theory and practical skills, but they had mastered the fundamentals, and you could feel their personality shine through their craft. Those people inspired me to stay focused, keep pushing, and become the barista I am today, because they showed me how high the bar can be set. So yeah, my past mentors and colleagues (the good ones at least), they inspire me.
Do you have any tips for people who are just beginning to use AeroPress coffee makers?
Get a notebook and write down your recipes, describe the brew, and add a comment about what you could change next time to make it better. If you do this, you will improve so much faster, than just winging it each time.
More importantly though, don't feel like you have to get the perfect brew straight away. It's a process, and if the brew today isn't what you were going for, take it as a learning opportunity.
Be willing to experiment. Don't get too attached to a recipe, especially if you didn't come up with it yourself. What works for somebody else, who is using different water, grinder, coffee and has different tastes, won't necessarily work for you.
What is your favorite coffee to use with your AeroPress coffee maker?
On those hot summer days, when the air is so oppressively hot that it feels like you're in an oven, I am a big fan of doing a flashbrew with washed Kenyan. Super refreshing.
For those who do not have a Macap Labo 70D grinder, how would you describe your grind size?
The grind size is very similar to a v60 pour over. I dialed in my recipe using a Comandante grinder @ 23 clicks.
Photo courtesy of World AeroPress Championship.
Brewer Set Up: Inverted
# of Filters: One
Rinsed? Yes, rinse it
Third Wave Water Formula: Formula 6: 75% Classic, 25% Distilled
** Recipe requires room temperature water also **
Grind Setting: 6.7 on the Macap Labo 70D
Water Temp: 93°C (199.4°F)
1. Add coffee: 0:00 - 0:12 Pour 150g water @93°C (199.4°F)
2. Stir: 0:12 - 0:25 stir x20 firmly
3. Attach filter cap: 0:25 - 0:30 fit cap on brewer, press out any extra air, put carafe on top
4. Flip brewer: @1:50 flip carafe and brewer, swirl x3 and tap down x2 (like rao-spin)
5. Press: @1:55-2:15 press, plunger touches coffee with small pressure, don't force
6. Press: @2:15 remove brewer and shake it gently letting last coffee into carafe
7. Dilute: Add 36g ROOM TEMPERATURE Formula 6 water
8. Swirl: to cool swirl for 1 minute