Thursday Night Throwdowns happen in cities all over the United States, all over the world in fact, each bringing with them the excitement and intrigue that can only come from evenings spent milk froth knickerbocking for cold hard cash. All of the milk must be put in the cups; your renumeration is rent money and / or glory. The latte art competition as cultural shibboleth is still very much alive and well.

One such recent event happened last Thursday in the city of Chicago, hosted by Counter Culture Coffee and New Gotham Gotham Community, and some pretty goshdarn heartwarming news was made there. The following account comes to us from New Gotham’s own Talya Strader, who reached out to us via email:

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Last night, New Gotham hosted their monthly TNT at Counter Culture Lab!  There were 24 competitors  with Andy Atkinson (1st) taking the pot ($120), Chloe Langham (2nd) won a full pour over kit from Counter Culture, and Talya Strader (me!) took home a Chemex and filters.  There were also donations raised for Bikes for Rwanda donated in the name of Liza Whitacre.  This is how we honored her.

I met this girl a few years and a few months ago, who forever inspired my coffee career.  She would ride her bike from Metropolis to Intelligentsia Broadway everyday and talk to the baristas, make friends with the customers, and read about coffee at the bar after ordering a soytado. She irritated me with her eagerness. The truth is, that I thought I had learned everything there was to know about coffee, and her excitement didn’t compliment my complacency.  Over the summer she wore me down, and I started a friendship with her. We traveled to MadCap that fall for a coffee jam, and on the way we talked about what it meant to be a woman pursuing a coffee career. It’s amazing that while that seemed like an issue to us at the time, specialty coffee has squashed my angsty feelings. On Liza Whitacre’s facebook profile she described herself as “”

That jam was the last time I saw Liza, as she was killed in a tragic biking accident on October 21st, 2009.  In Liza’s life, she inspired the coffee community, and in her death, we united even further. In 2012, as that union seemed to be falling away, New Gotham was created out of a need to renew the ideals that she lived by. We are donating 1/2 of all donations given to New Gotham tonight in the name of Liza Whitacre.

When Andy Atkinson won last night, he dropped all of his winnings in the pot, further inspiring New Gotham to give all of the $301 raised.  We are still waiting on a few donations to come in, before we actually send them to Bikes For Rwanda.

Last Thursday’s New Gotham / Counter Culture event was also picked up by Chicago Journal journo Bill Motchan, who has a recap here via Chicago Journal’s “West Loop Wanderings” blog.

Cool story, cool scene out there in Chicago – and oh, lucky us, we’re flying there LIKE RIGHT NOW for this Thursday’s Kenya Dig It? cupping party! There’s a whole slate of stuff going on in Chi-town over the next few days, which the folks at Chicago Coffee Scene have dubbed “October Caffeine Week”. See you soon, Chicago, as in like later tonight. We are down to hang out and drink some Malört with you, if you are also down.

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