Knowing where North Texas’ most innovative baristas work is a morning (and sometimes afternoon) essential. Last Friday, many local coffee professionals and enthusiasts gathered to compete in a brewing showdown that would bring many of these coffee slingers out of the shadows.
The third annual DFW AeroPress competition, held in Denton this year, has functioned as a qualifier for the national AeroPress competition in years prior, inviting baristas, roasters, and shop owners to showcase their recipes for what they believe is the best cup of black coffee. The only stipulations for the event are that competitors must use the AeroPress brewing method, which features a tubular device that operates much like a French Press, and they must prepare their recipe within an eight-minute time limit. Outside of these regulations, competitors are free to let their creative, caffeinated juices flow.
This year, founders Eli Ramirez and Ben Elliot elected to remove the event from the route to nationals, in favor of uniting the DFW coffee community, spotlighting local talent, and raising money for foster youth in the area. “Going into year three, we had an option to be a sanctioned event, and we decided no,” says Ramirez. “We just wanted this event to be solely focused on community development and engagement.” The Dallas community did demonstrate the engagement Ramirez hoped for. New Denton coffee shop, Cryptozoology, which shares a space with Armadillo Ale Works played host to the event.
The judging panel, made up of three high-level coffee professionals from Houston, Dallas, and Chicago, was instructed to select the cup of coffee in each round, of three competitors, that they would most likely continue to sip on. Though lower in stakes and certainly not all-inclusive, the results still serve as a solid indicator of where to get your version of the perfectly executed morning pick-me-up.
Local coffee shops included Oak Cliff Coffee, Cultivar Coffee, and Otto’s Coffee and Fine Foods. The finalists, however, all work for coffee shops in the outer areas of the city. The winner, James Combs, is the founder of Comb’s Coffee in Corinth, a green-certified coffee shop and roastery featuring a delivery service done by solar-powered cars. Combs served as the epitome of the coffee professional who understands the importance of the “exactly three sugars” in your coffee order. To extract the flavor he desired from the beans he brought, he made his own filter, his own film sticks, and his own Chemed funnel. He even brought Icelandic water to provide the perfect mineral interaction.
Second place was taken by Jon Wallis of George Coffee in Coppell, and third by Brock Beuclair of Aura Coffee in Denton. Other local favorites that participated include Lemma Coffee Roasters out of Denton, Avoca Coffee and Craftwork Coffee from Fort Worth, Novel Coffee Roasters from Dallas proper, Addison Coffee, and Mudleaf Coffee from Plano.
Caffeinated innovation can be found throughout North Texas, but it seems one’s best bet at the moment lies within the mugs of the aforementioned.