Vortex Doghnuts Revives the TNT, and Southern Hospitality Is the New Black
By Sarah Richmond
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
The ever-growing coffee community in the Southeast had one more reason to celebrate in Asheville, N.C., on Thursday night. Beloved newcomer, Vortex Doughnuts (owned by and serving coffee from 1000 Faces Coffee), hosted one of the area’s first TNTs in a few years, opening its doors to coffee industry professionals and the community.
Zachariah Acquaviva-Brown of Vortex Doughnuts wholeheartedly believes in the growing coffee culture developing in the Southeast and wanted to create a strong educational component to his business from the onset. œThis event was as much for our employees’ education as it was to reach out to the community at large,” he says. “We may not be the best at latte art yet, but we are a young company and want to celebrate individuals that share a deep love and interest in coffee.”
The TNT was so well supported that baristas came from near and far to take part in the event. Industry professionals from Methodical Coffee (Greenville, S.C.), Due South (Taylors, S.C.), Not Just Coffee (Charlotte, N.C.), and Asheville locals from High Five Coffee Bar, Waking Life Coffee & Espresso, French Broad Chocolates, and Counter Culture were represented.
The entire night was an expression of fun-filled, friendly competition that reflects the heart and soul of Southern natives. Local whiskey and beer, fresh baked doughnuts, and live music from Vortex’s very own Matt Tucker, set the stage for a most memorable night among old and new friends in the coffee industry.
There is something special happening in Asheville and its neighboring areas that is redefining the reputation of the third-wave coffee industry. Long gone are the days of turf wars, snarky service, and pretentious attitudes. There is a life-giving realness and hospitality here that is backed by genuinely supportive people like Jay Weatherly, owner of High Five Coffee Bar: œWe are here to share this tide that is rising and support one another. My business benefits if there are more people in the industry with integrity and a passion for craft coffee.
The actual competition was kept light and fun, including a final round of baristas pouring blindfolded or with their non-dominant hand. It was beautiful to see so many folks in the industry enjoying their profession together in such a way that reminds all of us to take ourselves a little less seriously. Barista John Linch, (Waking Life Espresso & Vortex Doughnuts) said that œit’s refreshing to be in an area where people aren’t striving to be perfect all the time and are more willing to take risks. There is a shared openness to growing together and exchanging coffee knowledge among our peers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Richmond is a recent transplant to the Asheville, NC area from Berkeley, Calif., where she brings over 10 years of experience in the coffee industry. Wearing many hats over the years as a barista, trainer, coffee roaster, manager, and lover of all things coffee, she is most passionate about the growing coffee community in Asheville and its neighboring states. When she is not turning coffee brown, Sarah can usually be found hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her fiancée and their 1 year old pup, Mack. Sarah and her family live in a cabin in the woods located in Black Mountain, N.C., and are enjoying the fullness good mountain living can bring!