Sprudge.com co-founder, First Tiger, editor, and creative director Zachary Carlsen recently attended the Kansas City Caffeine Crawl. He survived – just barely – and this is his true story.
When I was given the opportunity to attend last week's three-day long Kansas City edition of the Caffeine Crawl, well, can we be real here for a second? I had no idea what I was getting into. Through our ongoing and much-loved partnership with Barista Nation, we've helped promote Caffeine Crawl[s] around the country, but never actually attended one. This Kansas City crawl was the organization's sixteenth event and third crawl in KCMO – and the first ever for a Sprudge.com writer.
KCMOCC was a collaboration of over twenty coffee companies. Event attendees were divided into five different groups – three shuttle bus routes, a bicycle route, and a DIY (drive it yourself) route. Over the three days, guests had an opportunity to not only try eighteen different cafes – but were given the chance to try foods, desserts, juices, and even boozy treats. Of the eighteen stops on the crawl, each had its own theme and presentation prepared for the groups.
Oddly Correct prepared a presentation on coffee processing while One More Cup created a printed zine-style history of cafes. Jeff Taylor, owner of PT's Coffee, had a lecture on Direct Trade. Quay Coffee brewed three Chemex coffees with three different filters. “Every year, coffee companies get more inventive,” a seasoned crawl veteran told Sprudge. Last year at Benetti's Coffee Experience, they built out a campsite in the parking lot and did a presentation on campfire coffee. This year they held a presentation on high-quality coffees out of Indonesia with Sumatran coffee buyer Dibyo.
The Crawl wasn't limited to just coffee. Shang Tea in Kansas City's downtown district showcased their unique selection of single-farm teas. Annedore's Fine Chocolate set out samples of their scones and candies, hooking everyone up with a bag of Peppermint Bark, sea-salt chocolate caramels, and something called a “Plaza Light” (it was chocolate.)
Each stop lasted around a hour, and Caffeine Crawl organizer Jason Burton made sure that attendees stayed fed and hydrated, with asterisks on itineraries indicating which stops provided food and water. My fear was that this kind of event would just be fifty person shit-show, everyone piling into a cafe and each ordering espresso. What it turned out to be was a well-organized tour – every shop was prepared for the crowd, and facilitated the groups perfectly. Even during their Saturday morning rush, the Filling Station had set out the perfect amount of Autumn Juice, Coconut Ice Cream Affogatos, and boozey Bourbon Toddy Lattes.
Caffeine Crawl will kick off 2014 in San Diego on Saturday, January 25th. Tickets are available now. Go to there.
Check out our photo essay of Kansas City's Caffeine Crawl here.