~ Caffeine Crawl Chicago had it all! ~
Chicago is currently the largest city where we host a Caffeine Crawl, which creates more opportunities and challenges for this detailed event. Over 20 participating shops from Uptown down to The Loop hosted 150 enthusiastic Crawlers over 3 days. We started the fun with interviews on WGN Radio and WCIU’s You & Me Show. The weather worked in our favor with lots of comfortable sun to go with cold brews, and chilly morning starts for a hot cup fresh off a brew.
Coffee mocktails and other creative concoctions impressed those attending. Passion House Coffee Roasters hosted us at their roasting facility, where the Le Nez kit awaited to help guide us on coffee flavors. We watched a roast cycle while sipping on a mocktail comprised of Ethiopia coffee concentrate, maraschino cherry juice, lime, simple syrup and tonic. Elaine’s Coffee Call won “best view” with a cloud-level advantage atop the Hotel Lincoln - Elaine’s serves coffee to the hotel's first floor, and we sipped a deliciously tart drink with a penthouse view from the top floor. Brian demonstrated making a shrub for us, and used an earlier version of the shrub mixed with black tea for our samples. 'The Triple Threat' - chai, coffee and milk - made for a sweet treat at TOMS Roasting Co, and to warm us back up, we sipped brews of Malawi & Honduras. It was cool to have our first coffee and shoe store all-in-one, and we went home with the whole bean Malawi for our brew bars.
Varieties of cold brews and iced coffees quenched caffeinated thirst on this Crawl. Bow Truss served a single-origin nitro with an aroma-packed, foamy head, and another single origin brewed hot via pourover. Dark Matter Coffee hosted us at 'The Mothership' - we sipped Chocolate City iced coffee with eclectic wall art and their roaster as the backdrop. Ipsento served it up frosty, too, with nitro fresh off the tap in pint cups, and chats about their new location. New Wave Coffee used a Filtron to sample their cold brews to help keep us cool on our early summer stroll.
We had to keep our bellies happy, too! Awake Cafe paired Sugar & Spice banana bread with a cold Toddy from Metropolis - both local companies. Delicious Cafe tag teamed with Jennifer of Chapin Coffee for a sweet treat and coffee combo - a vegan chocolate brownie accompanied cups of a Toddy concentrate, Toddy with ice, and a Chaia-Lebeouf (chai + Toddy and named for the actor). Dollop served it on ice 3 different ways for a nice comparison - Kyoto, Toddy and a Fetco brew. Everybody’s Coffee celebrated their patio opening with us and Metric Coffee’s bottled Hellion - samples to sip and a bottle to-go, plus lemon bars.
Portage Grounds let Crawlers choose from their drink menu, so a variety of drinks and brew methods were sampled alongside fresh made scones. Big Shoulders Coffee Roasters served up pourover brews, their signature marshallow lattes, and a unique blend of horchata, chai and espresso in a cortado glass. Tea Gschwendner invited us to both of their Chicago locations, and we went home with their educational tea book after learning about the differences in tea varietals - we sipped 3 samples - a rooibos, darjeeling and flavored cranberry-mango. Brew Brew Coffee Lounge had a cold brew, a lavender-honey iced latte, and an iced London fog latte alongside treats to take home, leaving us with an array of delectable flavors. Groundswell Coffee Roasters served multiple drinks - a seasonal espresso, bitters and tonic over ice, and a Yemen coffee brewed via the Chemex. They multitasked well with a company intro and chance to win a bag of the Yemen to take home for our guests.
Pickwick Coffee Roasters (formerly Asado) brewed their new Peru on the Beehouse, and discussed roasting methods with us as they progress into their new company. At Cup and Spoon, Salvador walked us three different methods of brewing a Guatemalan from Metropolis - French Press, V60 and Chemex. Heritage Bicycle brewed up a compare and contrast of two Intelligentsia coffees on the Chemex using the same brew variables - a Honduras and Burundi. We were given cupping notes and had to guess which was which. Eastman Egg brought in special guests from the East Coast - Jake from Irving Farm Coffee Roasters out of New York and Meg from MEM Tea out of Boston. A Chemex of the Peru, and a hibiscus blood orange iced tea alongside several hot teas were happily sipped with chocolate caramels and meringue tarts drizzled with a blood orange syrup.
Lots of conversations and new (coffee and tea loving) friendships developed during the 2nd annual Chicago event. All the presentations and samples were topped off with Wholesome goodie bags full of gifts from participating shops and our awesome sponsors - Urnex, Indie Coffee Passport, Barista Magazine, The Local Tourist, Perfect Daily Grind, and Earnest Eats - thanks to all that participated for another great Caffeine Crawl through the Windy City!