Tuesday January 21st, kicked off Season 1 of TNTs at Caffe Calabria in San Diego's North Park community. Of thirty two Baristas that showed up to compete. Some from as far south as Tijuana; north as San Francisco and as far east as New York, only one could walk away the victor. In the end, Joshua D. Bonner won with a free-style pour of a tulip into a shot glass; a pour of great technical difficulty.
Going forward, the San Diego Coffee Network will be featuring one Barista a month that has set themselves apart from the rest in their skill and achievements either at a Thursday Night Throwdown, or by local reputation alone.
We asked a few questions of our latest TNT winner, Joshua D. Bonner. And here's what he had to say:
SDCN: Where did you grow up? If other than SD, what brought you here?
Bonner: I'm the weird kid who grew up abroad. I grew up as a missionary kid in Peru. Good times, bad coffee, great food, great people, great place...
Bonner: My family always came to San Diego when we would come stateside, so it only made sense. Before here, I was in the Bay Area because my majorly hot wife was studying at SFSU, and I was working at Blue Bottle Coffee and a multi-roaster called Stanza in the mission. We moved here 'cuase we're having a baby and want to be closer to family, and eventually open up our own shop here in San Diego...
SDCN: What is the most annoying/strange request you've received [as a Barista}?
Bonner: Iced cappuccino. They literally wanted a hot cappuccino poured over ice...they didn't get it.
SDCN: Favorite non-coffee adult beverage?
Bonner: Beer... particularly, Lambics...
SDCN: Any defining coffee moments?
Bonner: Probably training for Brewers Cup last year. A lot of it was just practicing, dialing in different brewed coffees, and learning what factors affect different flavors. Three out of six finalists were from my shop. Pretty awesome.
SDCN: First coffee memory?
Bonner: Growing up in Peru there wasn't very much good coffee, except for one place. I always went to coffee shop to do school work (home schooled...), so I eventually came across the only third wave shop in Peru called Cafe Verde. They completely changed the way I viewed coffee. That was kind of the tipping point for me to want to dive more into third wave stuffs.
SDCN: If you could only pick 3 albums to take whilst stranded on an island, what would they be?
SDCN: Why compete?
Bonner: As much as latte art is cool, I feel like latte art is not indicative of a good barista. Having said that, I feel like latte art is a place where good baristas, intermediate baristas, and new baristas can all meet and have fun. It's part of building a coffee culture and community within our industry.
Joshua Bonner literally just moved back to San Diego, and is not currently working with a roaster or cafe, but is very interested in becoming involved in the local coffee community. You can follow him on Twitter, or Instagram via the following handle: @joshuadbonner.
Until next time San Diego, happy coffee-ing!