Inland Empire TNT Celebrates SoCal Coffee

James Davalos, manager of ChocXO in Lake Forest and winner of ietnt round 4 at Lift, one of three judges for the night.
As one of the very strongest independent guilds/clubs our specialty coffee industry can boast, the Inland Empire TNT group throw another one of their now-famous events last Thursday at Dripp Coffee Bar in China Hills, Calif. Photographer  Andrew Oliveros, who is kind enough to share  these great photos here on Barista Magazine’s blog, reports that the event drew around 100 people, with 32 baristas signed up to compete ”that’s the full roster, completed in the first 20 minutes after sign ups opened.
 ‹Crowd shot from outside the Dripp/Espresso Republic roastery.
‹Crowd shot from outside the Dripp/Espresso Republic roastery.
“We had a strong showing of baristas from the inland empire, and from the Orange County area,” Andrew tells us. “This being our fifth event so far, the logistics went  very smoothly. We even introduced an audience photo contest through Instagram to coincide with some new stickers we had to give away.
 ‹Nick Rodriguez of Dripp/Espresso Republic was our MC for the night.
‹Nick Rodriguez of Dripp/Espresso Republic was our MC for the night.
“Easily, the most exciting aspect was the energy. Everyone there was excited to be there. There’s a strong sense of community that’s very  palpable. The baristas are all eager to compete against, and see the work of, their peers. Even after the competition concluded, time permitting, some of the baristas were eager to do a few impromptu pours to share with each other for feedback.”
James Davalos, manager of ChocXO in Lake Forest and winner of ietnt round 4 at Lift, one of three judges for the night.
James Davalos, manager of ChocXO in Lake Forest and winner of ietnt round 4 at Lift, one of three judges for the night.
 ‹Alexandra LittleJohn of Equator Coffees and Teas, one of three judges for the night.
‹Alexandra LittleJohn of Equator Coffees and Teas, one of three judges for the night.
 ‹Judges (left to right): Ginger D. of Cafe86, James Davalos of ChocXO, and Alexandra LittleJohn of Equator Coffees and Teas.
‹Judges (left to right): Ginger D. of Cafe86, James Davalos of ChocXO, and Alexandra LittleJohn of Equator Coffees and Teas.
 ‹Final four competitors of the night.
‹Final four competitors of the night.
 ‹Third place winner, Samantha Jacinto of Dripp coffee bar.
‹Third place winner, Samantha Jacinto of Dripp coffee bar.
Second place winner, Matthew Eaton of Augie's Coffee.
Second place winner, Matthew Eaton of Augie’s Coffee.
First place winner, Daniel Kim of Coffee Code.
First place winner, Daniel Kim of Coffee Code.
Gabe Venegas, IETNT founder & coordinator.
Gabe Venegas, IETNT founder & coordinator.
Thanks for sharing these details and your gorgeous photos, Andrew!
The next Inland Empire TNT will be held March 12 at Torch in Riverside, Calif. Stay tuned to IETNT on Twitter!  
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