Inland Empire TNT Season Wraps With a Bang

Judges select a winner in the finals.

Klatch Coffee hosts Inland Empire TNT’s grand finale  in Rancho Cucamonga, California

We’ve had a blast both following and supporting the Inland Empire TNT series that has taken Southern California by storm this past year, thanks to the enormous efforts of its organizer, Gabriel Venegas, and its many helpers and volunteers. I’ll call out photographer Andrew Oliveros specifically, because he keeps me posted after every event with amazing photos and news of how the shizz went down. It’s not the same as being there in person, but it’s a pretty close second.

Here, Andrew tells us how the IETNT season finale shook down last week at Klatch Coffee’s beautiful new facility in Rancho.

REPORTING & PHOTOGRAPHY BY  ANDREW OLIVEROS
The entrance to Klatch Coffee's stunning new training lab and headquarters.
The entrance to Klatch Coffee’s stunning new training lab and headquarters.
As you know, it was at Klatch’s brand new roastery. The place is absolutely amazing. The facility was packed full of people, there was a Rounds Burgers food truck just outside and drinks provided by Claremont Craft Ales. Being so full, it was a huge benefit to the audience that we were able to have a live stream up on the flat screen TVs. There was not one bad seat in the place.
Victoria Arduino Black Eagle, at Klatch's Roastery just before the competition began.
Victoria Arduino Black Eagle, at Klatch’s Roastery just before the competition began.
Klatch allowed three machines to run concurrently through the first portion of the bracket which was a little over 41 competitors. Todd Goldsworthy was our MC for the night and did a fantastic job keeping up with and guiding all of the action as baristas were presenting drinks to be judged every, what felt like, few seconds.
Todd Goldsworthy of Klatch Coffee was a fantastic MC for the night.
Todd Goldsworthy of Klatch Coffee was a fantastic MC for the night.

In the end, we got to the finals, which included the previous winners from our past events throughout the season and were able to confidently crown our first IETNT champion. It was a wonderful night. It really couldn’t have happened so well were it not for Klatch’s hospitality and organization. Their location was a perfectly fitting place to have our finale that felt like a very grand finale.

Judges eliminated competitors in a special round to balance out the bracket.
Judges eliminated competitors in a special round to balance out the bracket.
A huge crowd turned out for this grand finale event. Fun was had by all!
A huge crowd turned out for this grand finale event. Fun was had by all!
Judges Heather Perry of Klatch, Gabe Venegas of IETNT, and Jeff Courson of Bodhi Leaf Coffee prepare to eliminate competitors in a special round.
Judges Heather Perry of Klatch, Gabe Venegas of IETNT, and Jeff Courson of Bodhi Leaf Coffee prepare to eliminate competitors in a special round.
Judges select a winner in the finals.
Judges select a winner in the finals.
Josh Avila, of Wahfles Cafe in LaVerne, Calif., wins 3rd place.
Josh Avila, of Wahfles Cafe in LaVerne, Calif., wins 3rd place.
Daniel Kim of Coffee Code in Buena Park, Calif., wins 2nd place.
Daniel Kim of Coffee Code in Buena Park, Calif., wins 2nd place.
Jacob Parc, of Andante Coffee Roasters, wins 1st place and takes home the Baratza Forte grinder.
Jacob Parc, of Andante Coffee Roasters, wins 1st place and takes home the Baratza Forte grinder.
Now that the season is over, I think we’re on a short break to rest a bit. Gabe turns his attention in a couple weeks to competing, himself, at the SDTNT finale. After that, we look to visit more shops (and make more photographs–it’s what I do, after all) meet more baristas and continue supporting and promoting the specialty coffee community. In that time I think we’ll be looking for feedback to help make our next season as good, if not better, than this season. We think it’s safe to say that the sense of camaraderie is stronger than ever in the Inland Empire coffee community and we’re grateful to be at least a small part of that.
Andrew Gomez, founder and coordinator of OC TNT and Gabe Venegas, founder of IE TNT ham it up for the camera after a successful night.
Andrew Gomez, founder and coordinator of OC TNT and Gabe Venegas, founder of IE TNT ham it up for the camera after a successful night.
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