~ Part 2 of the first Caffeine Crawl of 2015 in sunny San Diego ~
Saturday dawned bright and early with enthusiastic Crawlers ready to learn. InterAmerican Coffee was well prepared as kickoff host with donuts, sparkling water, other snacks and a full run-down of coffee behind-the-scenes. Crawlers were fascinated, being one step closer to the origin of their morning cups of coffee - we discussed Q-grading, sourcing, farm sustainability and more in the inspirational IAC office.
Bird Rock Coffee's beautiful new space in Little Italy was the perfect frame for owner Chuck Patton's impassioned breakdown of Direct Trade and samples of the famous Esmeralda Estate. David Bacco Chocolatier was on hand with cardamom truffles, and after kickstart caffeination the combined kickoff routes parted ways to explore the city by bike and car.
Putting finishing touches on the not-yet-open cafe minutes before Crawlers arrived, the guys at WestBean welcomed us to their kickoff with a keg of smooth cold brew and an adorable welcoming committee. Munching chocolate cookies while listening to the WestBean story and asking lots of questions got our blood flowing, and we thanked the team for great work as we headed out to our next stops.
Discussions of Roya and how it affects the coffee lands as well as a multi-faceted presentation with three different extraction styles ensured a great experience at Cafe Moto. Crawlers added unique wristbands to their swag bags and munched cookies as they sipped and listened.
The experience at brand-new Bean Bar is carefully curated by owners Jason and Sandra, including their choice of 49th Parallel as their coffee roaster. Sandra did a great job explaining how the shop came to be--and with its roots in Germany and Portland, Oregon, it was a fascinating story.
A sneak peek into the new Dark Horse Roasting location in North Park found us gathering around unique, still-chairless engraved concrete tables and listening to Michael talk about their vision for community and non-pretentious, accessible coffee. He poured tasters of a tapped vanilla cold brew and we soaked in the transient moments of a cafe about to be born.
A fragrant array of loose leaf teas in shallow dishes awaited our noses at Bay Park Coffee, as well as two iced tea options, which was a refreshing change of pace. We sipped and sniffed and asked Ryan and Ericka lots of questions, and each added a little mason jar of berry rose loose leaf tea to our swag bags to brew at home.
An eclectic, edgy vibe welcomed us to a shaded patio in front of Broke Girls Coffee Bar, where April and crew served up some sassy cold brew a little differently than we’d had yet - shaken cold brew “cocktails” with cayenne, sea salt, and house made caramel sauce on ice and more swag to take home.
At Cafe Virtuoso, we were ushered to the back of their open roasting and cafe space, where Rigo and Mary served up Ethiopian Shilcho via pourover and cortado on a custom Stella di Caffe from Unic. Tasting notes and farm info on display helped us understand the coffee we were drinking, and Rigo was happy to answer questions as we sipped and noted flavor differences.
While still in the middle of a modest build out, Ladies and Gentlemen Coffee Roasters founder Josh Bonner served a Japanese style iced coffee and detailed his vision for the future of the cafe/roaster.
Crawlers enjoyed Caffe Calabria's authentic Italian approach to coffee as owner Arne Holt detailed the the company's growth from a one-man cart operation to today's North Park cafe, roaster and pizzeria.
We trickled in from our various routes and sank into the open, spacious comfort of James’ Coffee Co’s sleek space. Conversations started mid-Crawl were finished over iced teas and tacos from San Diego Taco Company, and pourovers to sample for anyone who hadn’t quite reached their tipping point were served up in their roasting space.
Team wind down at Craft and Commerce included great drinks and a self esteem booster from the fabulous sign outside. Being seated next to a boisterous bachelorette party made for excellent people watching, and good drinks and a few good laughs rounded out a wonderful day.
Sunday morning found us back at James Coffee Co for cappuccinos and donuts, and we swung by Bird Rock Coffee on our way down to the water.
With almost a whole day of down time, "Sunday Funday" was in full effect with beers and lunch at Ballast Point Brewery, artisan cupcakes from Frost Me Gourmet in Seaport Village, and dinner at Bencotto in Little Italy.
With enthusiastic Crawlers, passionate baristas and shop owners & gorgeous weather, Caffeine Crawl San Diego was one of the best - we can't wait for next year!
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