Within just one year of operation, Chromatic Coffee has built a newfound collaborative energy in the South Bay coffee community. Co-founders Hiver van Geenhoven, James Warren, and Patrick Edward Martin each drew on vastly different experiences from both corporate and independent coffee companies.

The three decided it was due time to create a sustainable coffee community—perhaps their biggest accomplishment thus far has been introducing a South Bay edition of latte art competition series, TNT.

Each of the founders took lessons from their coffee backgrounds in order to shape their vision for Chromatic Coffee. Warren produced custom machinery and electronics for independent coffee shops and small businesses in Seattle.  Martin grew up in Portland, renowned for its large coffee community.

Van Geenhoven started off at Peet’s Coffee and Tea before transitioning to Bay Area independent coffee shops. Each of them observed that successful independent coffee shops and communities were established based on two characteristics: sharing customers and producing high quality coffee.

“Portland has about 48-49 independent roasters, making it a highly saturated market,” Martin says. “People who were drinking coffee would taste different coffees and talk about it. There were people sending people [to a variety of cafes] to the point where it grows into a [customer sharing] culture.”

On a recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, for the World Barista Competition, van Geenhoven took note that the coffee scene there thrived only on serving espresso. “They’re very much driven by quality,” he explains. “Running from just 7am to 4pm, the stores are always packed.”

The South Bay TNT series came about as a way to both host a friendly barista competition and spread awareness of independent coffee. The latte art competition, Thursday Night Throwdown (dubbed TNT for short), is recognized as a friendly regional competition between trained and home baristas. Competitors face off in a tournament-style event to see who can produce the most aesthetically pleasing latte art of the night. Each of the competitions are hosted at rotating locations±in the past, Café Stritch, Roy’s Station, and Hotel de Anza—in order to bring attention to the location’s coffee business. For Chromatic’s 1-year anniversary, however, the competition will take place on their premises.

“The reason we wanted to do TNT was to get people excited about coffee,” explains van Geenhoven. “There’s a bigger BACC (Bay Area Coffee Community) series in San Francisco but South Bay people can’t really make it. So we thought if we had one here maybe more people can make it.”

Each of the competitions grabbed the interest of the South Bay coffee community and new followers in different locations. In its short run the series has already earned approval as a “Member Driven Event” from the Barista Guild of America.

The fourth South Bay TNT is on Thursday, October 17, 6pm, at Chromatic Coffee on Stevens Creek Boulevard, Santa Clara. The TNT will be a combo Halloween party and celebration for Chromatic Coffee’s 1-Year anniversary.