Tag Archives: TNT Throwdown

Recap of the August Counter Culture Coffee “TNT” Latte Art Competition at Sola Coffee & Cafe’


September Latte Art Throwdown at Sola Coffee

Sola Coffee & Cafe’ in North Raleigh was the host for the August Counter Culture Coffee latte art competition, lovingly known as the Thursday Night Throwdown or “TNT” for short. As shared in my July TNT recap post, the purpose of these friendly competitions is to cultivate a coffee culture that respects presentation and quality coffee drinks and provides an opportunity for the local coffee community to come together and have some fun!


Spectators at Sola Coffee watching the throwdown unfold

Sola Coffee & Cafe is relatively new to the local coffee scene being open for only a little over 6 months, but they dove in head first and did a fantastic job of hosting their first TNT competition. The pool of baristas competing was the largest I have ever seen (there were a total of 28) and the crowd of spectators gathered was pretty darn big too.


Barista from Cafe Helios prepares his latte

As always, Lem Butler of Counter Culture did an awesome job of MCing the competition and keeping things moving along seamlessly.  Things got kicked off shorlty after 7pm with the first two baristas going head to head to create their latte art to be presented and scored by a panel of three judges.


“Tulip” design latte art

Latte art is typically judged based on four criteria: balance and symmetry, use of space, color contrast and definition, and overall impression.  The judges compare the appearance of the two drinks based on these factors and decide which barista will move on to the next round.


Baristas working at the espresso machine

As the competition advances, baristas will sometimes be asked to pour their drinks blindfolded or will willingly choose to use increasingly smaller cups to present their drinks. These variations make creating latte art more difficult and can cause for some interesting results from even the most experienced baristas.


The crowd waiting for the final results

After several rounds of competition, the field was narrowed down to two baristas to face off in the final round.  It was a fun evening that saw a plethora of great pours from the many great local baristas, but it all came down to Austin Oliver of Jubala Village Coffee and Michael Harwood of Open Eye Cafe in the final round.


August 2012 TNT Winner
Michael Harwood of Open Eye Cafe in Carrboro

Both Austin & Mike did a great job, but in the end Mike of Open Eye Cafe was crowned the August TNT champion. With that, he won some prizes and bragging rights for a month before being called on to return to help judge the next throwdown. The details for the next TNT competition are provided below. You can visit my flickr photo album for more of my pictures from the August 2012 TNT Latte Art Throwdown at Sola.

September TNT event Details
– Date/Time: Thursday September 27th,  7-9:30pm
– Location: Scratch Bakery – 111 Orange Street – Downtown Durham
– Free & Open to the public to watch
– $5 for baristas to enter the competition

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Latte Art Throwdown at Jubala Village Coffee in North Raleigh ~ July 26th 7pm!


Example of “Tulip” Latte Art

If you enjoy the local coffee scene don’t miss this chance to watch some of the Triangle’s most talented baristas put their skills to the ultimate test at the Thursday Night Throwdown (TNT) latte art competition this Thursday, July 26th at 7pm. The event is hosted by Counter Culture Coffee and the awesome folks at Jubala Village Coffee in Raleigh & features the areas best barsitas from the many excellent coffee bars throughout the the Triangle.

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Scene From July 2011 Latte Art Throwdown at Jubala!

If you haven’t experienced one of these competitions yet this is how it works: baristas put their names in a hat and are selected at random to go head to head creating espresso coffee drinks featuring identical latte art designs which are then compared against each other and judged by a three person panel.

Judging is typically based on four categories:
1) Aesthetic Beauty
2) Definition
3) Color Infusion
4) Degree of Difficulty and Creativity

The winner moves on to the next round to compete again until the ultiamte champion is crowned. The purpose of a throwdown like this is to cultivate a coffee culture that respects presentation and quality – and of course having a fun time doing it!

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Baristas square off head to head as they create their drinks – July 2011

Event Details
– Date/Time: Thursday July 26th 7-9pm
– Location: Jubala Village Coffee – 8450 Honeycutt Road – Raleigh, NC
– Free admission
– Open to the public (Vote for your favorite latte art!)
– $5 for baristas to enter the competition


Next Throwdown at Jubala Coffee – July 26th 7pm

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Latte Art Competition & 10th Anniversary Celebration at Cafe Helios Thursday May 31st!


The Triangle’s most talented baristas will put their skills to the test this Thursday, May 31st, at the Thursday Night Throwdown (TNT) latte art competition hosted by Counter Culture Coffee and Cafe Helios in downtown Raleigh.

Baristas from throughout the Triangle will go head to head crafting their best latte art which is then judged by the audience. The winner moves on to the next round to compete again until an ultiamte champion is crowned at the end of the evening.  The winner will receive eternal glory, bragging rights, and some cool prizes too!


Latte Art

This throwdown is extra special because it also marks Cafe Helio’s 10th anniversary! To add to the festivities there will be food trucks on hand including Klausie’s Pizza, American Meltdown, and Bulkogi Truck, music, and an after party at C.Grace, the bar next door, featuring a special cocktail menu after the champion is crowned.

Event Details
Thursday May 31st at Cafe Helios ~ 413 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC
Food Trucks arrive at 6 pm
TNT Competition starts at 7pm
Free Admission
Open to the public (Vote for your favorite latte art!)
$5 entry fee for Baristas entering the competition
Music, Food, Drink specials, and coffee all throughout the evening.

Hope to see you there!

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