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.
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.
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.
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.
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.