City And State’s Cold-Brew Throwdown Brings Together Baristas and Home Enthusiasts in Memphis

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City and State of Memphis, Tenn., hosts a cold-brew throwdown filled with specialty drinks from coffee aficionados and home baristas alike.


Photos courtesy of City and State

Usually when we think of throwdowns, we imagine lots of baristas, plenty of milk, and a head-to-head competition to see who can pour the most pristine rosetta. City and State, a specialty shop in Memphis, Tenn., decided to host a different type of throwdown on July 7,  after seeing a cold-brew competition at the 2016 SCAA convention. “After experiencing the Cold-Brew Throwdown at last year’s SCAA in Atlanta, hosted by Chrome Yellow Trading Co., we had a desire to continue the trend and bring it to Memphis for a regional event that would serve to give even more visibility to the incredible network of roasters and cafes in this area,” shares Lisa Toro, co-founder of City and State.

The competition asked participants to craft a signature drink with cold brew as its base.

The event brought in baristas and community members across Memphis and surrounding metropolitan areas alike. “We were excited to make this a completely inclusive event, with partners, sponsors, and competitors from all over and from all experience levels,” shares Lisa. “We had a total of 13 competitors, with baristas competing from Memphis, Atlanta, Nashville and elsewhere. We also had a fair number of home brewers compete as well.” Competitors were asked to make a signature cold-brew drink and give a short presentation to a panel of three judges. Along with being evaluated by the judges, competitors were also asked to prepare samples for 80 attendees who were able to cast a vote for their favorite and crown a People’s Choice winner.

Drinks ranged in style, substance, and experience levels of those crafting the drinks, with both baristas and home enthusiasts participating in the competition.

Although the event attracted plenty of local community members, Lisa wasn’t sure how popular it would be. “We didn’t know what to expect in the way of attendance given the relative newness of this kind of competition and our still-small coffee community here in Memphis. We were blown away by the turnout,” she notes. And, unlike most coffee events where non-coffee folks might be invited to spectate but don’t really stand a chance of actually participating, this event saw both baristas and home brewers excel. “We were even more excited when our winners were an even split between coffee professionals and home brewers. First place was Dale of Spiller Park; second place was Austin, a home brewer; third place was Evan of Barista Parlor; and  People’s Choice was Alane, a home brewer.”

Three judges tasted all the drinks and awarded first, second, and third place. Attendees were able to sample drinks and award a People’s Choice award.

Winners enjoyed prizes from a number of sponsors including Intelligentsia Coffee, Barista Parlor, and Espresso Parts. And before the throwdown even wrapped up, attendees were eager to participate in the next one. “The event was barely coming to a close and we already had everyone asking about the next one,” Lisa shares. “Given the response, we’re considering making it an annual event. It was tremendous fun and such an exciting way to bring cold-brew coffee to the community with a competition they could enjoy and participate in.”

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