Vanessa Lovel of Cafe Virtuoso showing off her winning Rosetta. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle.

Vanessa Lovel of Cafe Virtuoso showing off her winning Rosetta. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle.

We love highlighting Baristas from our community, and we're at it again with last week's Solutions Espresso Service SDTNT winner, Cafe Virtuoso's very own, Vanessa Lovel. Thirty Baristas came out to compete last Thursday even with neighboring Orange County holding a TNT the same night and with the allure of the Big Western going off in Los Angeles early the very next morning.

Lovel's pour on the left. Bonner's pour on the right. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle.

Lovel's pour on the left. Bonner's pour on the right. Photo by Jared Armijo-Wardle.

Lovel's 10oz. Rosetta beat Joshua Bonner's Tulip, which he poured into a blank portafilter. Bonner, the defending champ from the first SDTNT of the Season, admitted, though he pulled off a technically difficult pour, Lovel's pour was better, and the judges agreed as Matt Barahura, the event MC, called for a decision in the final seconds of the competition, "Judges! In three!-two!-one!" Dylan Michalek came in Third with Patrick Conley of Coffee & Tea Collective coming in Fourth.

Lovel is as sweet and angelic as she looks, and she has a huge heart for community. That night she referred to everyone as, "My family." She even asked if she could reinvest her winnings in the SDCN to keep these family gatherings going. Though we were humbled by the giving gesture, we told her she earned it and to enjoy it. So without further adieu, here's a little bit more about Ms. Lovel from Ms. Lovel.

SDCN: Where did you grow up?

Lovel: Anchorage, Alaska.

SDCN: What brought you to San Diego?

Lovel: The sun!!

SDCN: What is the strangest request you've received as a Barista?

Lovel: A guy once asked me to pull him some shots, but keep them running until the cup was halfway full! At first, I thought he was joking, but he insisted that he liked it that way and left with a smile on his face!

SDCN: Favorite non-coffee adult beverage?

Lovel: Home made egg nog with raw cream and a touch of Bourbon.

SDCN: Any defining coffee moments?

Lovel: The first throw down I ever went to I had poured my first ever rosetta that same week. The people hosting the event were so nice, and one of the hosts was even giving me some pointers after I told her that I was really new to the whole thing. My drink ended up being a total flop, but she had the whole room give me an applause anyway saying "Give it up for Vanessa this is her first week doing latte art!!"

That was a defining moment for me, it made me want to become more involved in the coffee world because I realized that it isn't all about who is better than who, it's about all of us sharing our passion for quality and loving coffee as a community.

SDCN: First coffee memory?

Lovel: When I was about 10 years old I convinced my stepmom to let me try a sip of her coffee ignoring her warnings that I would hate it. After that, they had to start buying decaf...to keep me out of a straightjacket...

SDCN: Three albums, stranded on an Island--Go!

Lovel: Absolution, Queen (Greatest Hits) and Les Misarables soundtrack

SDCN: Why compete?

Lovel: I enjoy putting myself to the test not just with pouring drinks, but also with being able to thrive under pressure. It gives me good practice in not psyching myself out and instead just living in the moment! Also, it is awesome to keep up with what the San Diego Coffee Network is doing by being a part of these events. Oh, and free beer.

SDCN: (We did not bribe Ms. Lovel with free beer to get her to say that...a Bourbon egg-nog thingy...maybe...you can't prove a thing).

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