Even though it might seem to some younger baristas that Thursday Night Throwdowns have been around forever, they’re relatively young. In fact, they only began six years ago! It was Ben Helfen and M’lissa Muckerman who started the Thursday Night Throwdown concept at Octane Coffee, where they both worked at the time.
He was excited when the sixth anniversary of the very first TNT was upon him, and it was even set for the exact same date as that first TNT: March 20! He enlisted the help of the super capable Tess Ottinger, who has been very active in getting the TNTs in Atlanta running smoothly. Barista Magazine was excited to support the event with magazines to give away as well as prizes for the winners. And we were in great company — other sponsors were La Marzocco, Baratza, Counter Culture, Batdorf & Bronson, Octane, Barista Varietals, and Hop City Craft Beer Market.
There was room for 32 competitors on the sign up sheet, and it filled up in 5 minutes! Seriously, Tess and Ben made this TNT a BIG DEAL, which drew an enormous crowd from Atlanta’s vibrant coffee community. Approximately 100 people crammed into Octane for the event.
1st: Tyler Brown of Octane Westside
2nd: Brandon Camarda of Octane Westside
3rd: Taylor Castle of Cafe Benz
4th: Kyle Logan of Octane Birmingham
Redemption prize draw: Randy Harrell of Octane Westside
“Obviously it was a great night for Octane baristas, which is awesome since we were on their turf,” says Tess. “Local coffee attendees were Counter Culture, Batdorf & Bronson, Rev Coffee, Thrive, Land of a Thousand Hills, Atlanta Coffee Roasters, 5&10, and Safe House, just to name the majority. The best part [about events like these] is seeing the way everyone comes together as a family and just has the best time catching up, competition aside.”