Coffee art contest builds community organically
The crowd goes silent as the two last competitors place their beverages before the panel of judges.
Up until this point, the amicable atmosphere of throwdown participants and spectators has lent itself to a constant buzz throughout the rounds. But in this moment, the tension is felt by everyone as the teacher and the student wait in anticipation for the judges’ decision.
“Three, two, one, point!” All three judges point their finger to the winning mug: Heidi, the student, has bested her teacher, John!
Welcome to the world of coffee throwdowns! Born out of friendly competition between shops, the events (or TNTs as they are known in the industry) are a way for area baristas to test their skills against one another while fostering a place to meet new people and create a community.
Some of my best friendships have come out of meeting others at these throwdowns, and it has become so big in the “3rd wave” industry that retailers will often send gear/equipment in order to sponsor the events. In Heidi’s case, the prize was a limited edition gold scale, worth well over $250 and not sold in stores!
When I proposed the idea of starting TNTs in Bozeman to Jay [Smith], our president, he immediately asked how YTI could help as he saw the TNT for what it was: an amazing way to grow organic community. The first Bozeman area throwdown was held on May 12, 2016, at Cold Smoke Coffeehouse, and it was an incredible success. Area coffee shops, baristas, and “regular joes” (pun intended) met each other to watch the competitors give it their best shot at winning. There are future TNTs planned on a quarterly basis.
To end—how does Paul make his coffee? Hebrews it.