// The home to the first Caffeine Crawl continues to showcase its local talents. //
We celebrated our 60th ever Caffeine Crawl with our first road trip route. To start the Kansas City event we started in Manhattan, Kansas, and went to Topeka, and Lawrence, creating a 100-mile route.
In Manhattan, our first stop was at Arrow Coffee Company hosting us in their bar space. We started with a signature, shaken tea drink using a green tea from Hugo Tea, vanilla syrup and lemon peel followed by a V60 of a Messenger Coffee El Slavador, and a Mexican Coke with cold brew ice cube sipper to get us ready for the day. Sparrow Specialty Coffee was our next stop and we had a choice of an inhouse lavender-honey latte or brew of an Ethiopia from Thou Mayest. We checked out their new meeting space downstairs that has a documented history dating back to 1907, and was part of Manhattan's first indoor swimming pool.
Back in our cars and heading to PT's Coffee in Topeka. Brent led a video presentation on the La Plam y El Tucan farm in Colombia. We learned more about processing and fermentation within the coffee steps at origin. We were able to taste and discuss differences in two coffees - their La Esmeralda and El Recuerdo. Lawrence was our final voyage for the first day of the Crawl.
We met outside at 1900 Barker. Reagan and the team deconstructed the flavor profile of a coffee - Heart Roasters Ethiopia Wonka - by creating a coffee mocktail focusing on aroma, acid, and body (fruit). The drink used an espresso tonic of the Wonka, caronated blackberry, mist of honey, rose water and lavender, and garnished with an arugula flower. And...pastry bites to-go. Next, we headed over to Alchemy Coffee's facility where they create their canned and bottled cold brews. We sampled many brews from a mocha milk with a local dairy, a chocolate almond and vanilla bean cold brew on tap, and the packaged drinks as we learned more about their steps in the packaging process. We finished with a stop at Repetition Coffee's roasting facility just a few blocks off Mass St. We took a tour of the roasting set-up and drank in their cupping room space. Amy, Ryan and Jack passed our a coffee liqueur they created, a brews of their Rwanda, and a decaf (perfect timing). They opened it up to questions, and all of our bags included a sample of their coffees. Overall, the weather, the drinks, and the hospitality made it seem like these shops had been on Crawl routes for years. A great addition to the Crawl!
Friday hosted a daytime route back in Kansas City. Ian and Danielle at Blip Roasters in the West Bottoms brewed up their Brazil Natural coffee on a Kalita pourover and Bunn brewer to give us a comparison of the taste in two very different brew methods, but also how a good coffee can hold up well in good automatic machines. They hosted us next to their roaster, and shared their expansion plans. Also, expanding is The Roasterie and learned about their new spots around town including a drive-thru only in front of their roasting facility building. Crawlers had cold brew on tap, learned about the different ways to cold brew, and we chatted about their local partnerships like with Sporting KC. Everyone went home with a canned cold brew. Back outside overlooking the Crossroads, three types of coffee variations waited for us at Thou Mayest. Bo took us on a tour of horticulture and related it to the fact we are drinking a plant. We went home with coffee plants, too! Our drinks included a brew of their spring seasonal, Equinox, a blend, sips of the House Brew collaboration with Torn Label, and Cafe Amaro with J. Rieger.
A few culinary tie-ins awaited. Aaron at Doughnut Lounge whipped up a tumeric sauce using a Rishi Tea. We sampled the sauce, and then had the sauce in a mini tumeric-ginger latte, plus an option to try their inhouse coffee liqueur. Many of us left with doughnuts, of course! We were ready for more sweets at Christopher Elbow Artisan Chocolates. Elbow is celebrating their 10th anniversary in the Crossroads location, and we listened to Courtney and Rachele inform us on Christopher Elbow's timeline in craft chocolate. We were able to get a production view of the process, and each one of received a delicious coffee caramel chocolate using Broadway Coffe. We wrapped up the day at Pirate's Bone Coffee in Brookside. Zaid brought many businuss friends to share stories about their drinks. Hugo Tea talked about their a blueberry rooibos tea on tap with rosemary, Mike from Encore Coffee explained his new roasting set-up as we had a cold brew of his coffee with grapefruit, Pistachio Bakehouse had flavored sorbets for us, and last but not least we had a dirty horchata sample drinl. Mike and Zaid passed out Encore sample bags to go.
Already two days in, we still had Saturday and Sunday to go. Could not have asked for a better weekend, weather wise. A big thanks to our local Yelp for all their continued local support, and making sure our Crawlers had totes to carry around all their goodies.
At Second Best Coffee Nathan explained the concept behind their name and mission as a shop. They are known for their signature drinks and we each received a modified version of their new seasonal called Bittersweet Morning. Instead of espresso, they used a Mexican Toddy, plus the drink called for a custom-made grapefruit and blood orange syrup, and La Croix grapefruit, all served over ice. Stacy at One More Cup had a unique drink, too - a cold Hugo Chai with Shatto strawberry milk. We slurped those down with house baked goods on the shop's back porch. She gave us a background on women in coffee, including aspects of last year's presentation on the topic that was hosted in Kansas City. Also in Waldo, McLain’s Bakery and Cafe hosted both bike-friendly routes and refueled riders with their sampled array of baked goods and a hot brew of coffees from Thou Mayest.
The Crawl wasn't all coffee related. We set up at the wooden parklet in the Unbakery and Juicery parking lot to absorb the rays, and take part in Robin's healthy juices and waters. Each with a different focus on the body and health. Many of us remember Robin opening the Filling Stations, so it was great to hear about her progression as a beverage business owner as we sipped on many different drinks. Kyle at Shang Tea presented a visual presentation to us defining white and red tea, and fielded questions. An aged white tea was served to us in a custom porcelain bowl Shang, the owner, designed. Stacie and team at the Tea Market in Crestwood had several custom blends waiting for us and freshly steeped. We were able to mingle, and even step outside to sip our teas. We were open to ask questions about tea. Stacie went around greeting us, and discussing tea with us
We also were able to check out some new spaces on the Crawl. Some not even open to the public yet, like Messenger Coffee. Messenger had a trio of Chemex brewing at their future shop, roastery, and bakery site in the Crossroads. First, an Ethiopia washed Shante Wene and then the natural Qonqona, also from Ethiopia. As we left sampe bags of coffee was passed out to us. Crows Coffee has a new location, and they hosted us their 75th St. shop. A variety of drinks were laid out from a mimosa using Hugo Tea Berry Rooibos, and Messenger Ethiopia and El Salvador coffees. Each ideally paired with different baked goods, which was all incorporated in their fairly new liquor program and inhouse bakery.
Archives Coffee was new to the Crawl lineup, but presenter Kim Lovelady is a Crawl veteran. Archives is located in the KC Library - Plaza Branch, and in addition to the drinks we learned more about the library's offerings. Both drinks used PT's Coffee Flying Monkey blend. The coffee was sampled as a regular brew first, and pulled as an espresso shot and combined with steamed milk and a rosemary-caramel sauce they created. A good lesson of a coffee's flexibility. Another Crawl stop with a strong tie-in to local community was Eleos Coffee. Dan hosted us in their side room with brews of Honduras, Brazil, Ethiopia and their signature blend in airpots for us to fill our cups. Eleos has a focus on being a pillar of unity in the historic Northeast neighborhood, where there's no other specialty coffee around. Besides gaining more insight on their mission it was great to learn they work with local coffee importers like Midwest Coffee Trading.
4 days, 13 routes, coffee, tea, chocolate, and many other collaborative drinks made our 60th Caffeine Crawl another one to be proud of. It was a great event with the participating shops and attendees. We'll be back in November with more Kansas City area shops for the fall Crawl! - Jason Burton