Photos by Jared Armijo-Wardle, SDCN Creative Director. Words by Pablo Lara, SDCN Assistant Editor.
By 6pm darkness had fallen upon the city and the East Village was soon invaded by a mob of baristas, all of them covered in coffee stains and flannel. In a coordinated march they headed towards a battle, I'm referring to San Diego's Thursday Night Throwdown, this time hosted by the Bean Bar. This trendsetting espresso bar hosted a massacre, one of tulips and rosettas. Microfoamed milk and delicious espresso overflowed for the sake of warfare.
The crowed spilled on to the city streets. But not everything was as dark as it sounds. Pastel colors, refreshing greens and lovely fragrances came from the floral designs of Native Poppy, a floral boutique pop-up. Natalie Gill, founder of Native Poppy, made lovely bouquets with local plants. Even the Chemex was full of blooms!
At the forefront of the battlefield and judging the pours were Jacob White, Quality Control Assistant for Bird Rock Coffee Roasters and winner of SDTNT Season 2. Also Fernanda Hernandez, Logistics Coordinator at InterAmerican Coffee, and Shad Baiz, founder of Solutions Espresso Services. Their scrutiny and ruthlessness instigated fear even barista zombies could not succumb.
Did I mention baristas got to throw down using a Spirit by Kees Van Der Westen? Ya she's bae #1.
Local baristas were joined by other coffee pros from all over southern CA. We had participants from LA, Riverside, OC and La Jolla.. wait I think thats still in SD.
This time around the format had a creative little spin. Competitors had to pour first in 7oz cups, second came the gibraltar glasses, then 12oz cups followed by the free-pour not format for the finalists.
The ambiance was filled with excitement and love. Industry professionals mingled with friends and family, conversations sparked and everyone had a good time.
Blair's swan was perfect! A milk creation swimming in espresso!
James, manager at ChocXO in Lake Forest, went up against Marco of Elixir. Made with James' own black matted pitcher, his 5 layer tulip eliminated Marco. Blair of Augies and BreAnn of N7 Creamery poured next. BreAnn's perfect execution of a 6 layer tulip got her a spot in the finals. Jason, co-owner of Bean Bar battled against Gabe, founder of IETNT. With his shiny white pitcher and a killer rosetta Gabe eliminated Jason. Andrew of Rose Park Roasters in Long Beach poured against James. Andrew's rosetta was stunning but the slightly bigger heart on James' rosetta got him a spot in the final 2. BreAnn and Gabe, were next. BreAnn presented the judges with a creative rosetta with two hearts, but Galee's creation was cleaner and more symmetrical. For third place we had BreAnn and Andrew come head to head. Andrew poured a monks head in a demitasse and BreAnn who also choose a demi poured a double heart attaining the coveted 3rd spot!
The Final Countdown played and we all know what that means. Time to battle for the prize and recognition. James and Gabe were ready to slay! James poured a five layered tulip with a detailed base and Gabe created a stunning rosetta with a base that encapsulated the entire pour. Gabe took first place and made it rain $$$, then #instagramed it all! The night came to an end and the San Diego community was joyous to have the support of baristas from other coffee communities whose talent shines. The growth of our industry all over SoCal is energizing and contagious. Thank you Bean Bar for all your love and we'll meet again at Ironsmith Coffee Roasters in Encinitas on March 26th.