Season 1, Round 1 – “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”

At long last, Season 1 of TNT NYC has begun! We here at TNT NYC World Headquarters started the week super-excited, but with a host of nagging questions: Who all would come out and vie for dominance? How would we fit all of the revelers and merrymakers into Third Rail? How many tulip leaves would fit in an 8-ounce ACF latte cup? And, last but not least: who would make the beer run when we inevitably blew all of the kegs?

Well, we’re pleased to report that all of our questions and concerns were laid to rest, and that the opening round of TNT NYC: Season 1 was a huge success! 24 competitors tried their luck, with a host of onlookers cheering, heckling and generally making a scene. The evening culminated in a hotly-contested 3-way final, and everyone went home well-satisfied to begin preparing for next month’s epic showdown at Sweetleaf.

Folks from all over New York came out and represented their neighborhoods and their shops. Joe was clearly in it to win, with a strong roster of 6 baristas. Gregory’s Coffee in the Flatiron was also well-represented, as (naturally) was Third Rail. Rounding out the great 24-person lineup were competitors from Intelligentsia, Counter Culture, World Bean, Upright Coffee, Dallis Brothers, RBC NYC and Philadelphia’s Spruce Street Espresso. The stage was set for a grand contest.

The pours came thick & fast. Joe’s heavy presence in the brackets resulted in several intra-shop rivalries, while the Third Rail boys poured their way up the brackets with skill and aplomb. Dark-horse contender Michael Sarnoff-Wood of Upright Coffee in Queens defeated several favored competitors on his way toward the final, and Dallis’ Mike DeJesus was granted a miraculous resurrection in the first round, after coworker (and reigning NERBC champion) Philip Serch bequeathed his spot to him.

The final was a tense 3-way face off between Mr. Sarnoff-Wood and Mike Jones & RJ Rabe, both of Third rail. Sarnoff-Wood poured first, showing some nerves but mastering them to produce a classic rosetta. Rabe followed, upping the ante with a clean and well-defined 6-layer tulip. Jones brought it home with his own 6-layer tulip, pouring with masterful calm & precision.

The final pours, L-R: Michael Sarnoff-Wood, RJ Rabe, Mike Jones

When the dust settled, Jones emerged the victor, with Rabe coming in second and Sarnoff-Wood claiming third. All three went home with an armful of swag (courtesy of Craft Coffee, La Marzocco, Everyman Espresso and Coava,) and all three are guaranteed spots in next February’s TNT NYC final!

The finalists, L-R: RJ Rabe, Michael Sarnoff-Wood, Mike Jones

All told, $175 was raised in support of Bikes to Rwanda– a great start which we’ll all come together to blow out of the water in the months to come. Huge thanks to everyone who came out to cheer, jeer, drink, pour and make the TNT NYC Season 1 Opener the success that it was. Stay tuned for updates, and mark your calendars: Round 2 is coming September 15th at Sweetleaf LIC, and it’s poised to be epic.

The winner of TNT NYC Season 1, Round 1: Mr. Mike Jones!


About Sam Lewontin

I rode my bike to work this morning, and made coffee for some folks.
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