What is it about the lure of the tour? Gassing up the van, hitting the road for a long haul, counting down the miles, making good time. It's about the journey and the destination. We love a good tour here at Sprudge, and when there's delicious coffee involved? Even better.
Throughout the spring 2018 season, our longtime partners at Cafe Imports have been out on the road, crisscrossing the United States for a series of events dedicated to coffee. And not just any coffee: the 2018 Legendary Coffee Tour featured “greatest hits, brand-new releases, and even a few deep cuts” from the Cafe Imports coffee library, paired with a presentation on the history and significance of coffee varieties. Sprudge was an official partner for this event series, along with La Marzocco and Mill City Roasters.
Events took place in cities large and small across the USA, including Kansas City (at Messenger Coffee), Springfiled, MO (at Classic Rock Coffee), Chicago (at Metropolis Coffee), Coeur d'Alene (Evans Brothers Coffee), Tempe (Tempe Public Market Cafe), Austin (Wild Gift), Dallas (Communion Cafe), Boston (Pavement Coffee), Philadelphia (Rival Bros. Coffee), and of course Minneapolis, for a tour kick-off at Cafe Imports HQ.
Presentations were hosted by members of the Cafe Imports staff at each event, including Director of Education Joe Marrocco and Meister, the company's managing editor. “In some part I feel like I’ve been doing the research and writing for this project (or something kind of like it) for my entire coffee career,” Meister tells Sprudge. Meister cites the ongoing coffee variety research work being done by folks like Tim Hill and Getu Bekele, Kew Gardens, and World Coffee Research as huge influences on the Cultivar Caravan. “I would love for there to be more open source access to the deep cuts out there,” Meister says, “because I think more information can only be better for everyone.”
For Marrocco, whose daily work with Cafe Imports includes near-constant consultation with the company's roaster clients, events like this provide a precious chance to interface with different communities across the country face-to-face instead of on FaceTime. “The roaster community of today is insatiably hungry for knowledge,” Marrocco tell us. “We have a unique opportunity, and we feel, responsibility, to share the knowledge we have with that community.”
By offering insight into the variations that exist between different coffee varieties, events like Cultivar Caravan are another step on coffee's long path to culinary acceptance. By providing not just a presentation, but also “a forum for conversation and clarification,” as per Marrocco, “we did not merely focus on how to approach different cultivars from a roaster’s perspective, but more on deeper knowledge about this subject overall. We had lots of incredible questions and conversations. As an educator, it was a blast.”
Following previous tours across Europe and the United States, this year's was the best attended yet, with 700+ attendees nationwide and many more following along via social media. It's the third round of touring we've been partnered with here at Sprudge, along for the ride as the programming gets better and the crowds get bigger. “Every year we try and look and concepts that both really interest us and seem to be on the mind of a lot of our customers,” says Cafe Imports Partner & S.V.P. of Sales Noah Namowicz. “This year we have learned so much new about varieties through organizations like WCR and just more scientific research in general that we felt like this was very topical and relevant. We are already dreaming up some big concepts to take on tour for 2019, but I think you may have to stay tuned to see what’s bubbling up.”
Gas up the van. Pack some snacks. Did you remember not to forget your guitar cables? We're trying to make Missoula by sundown. There's nothing like being on tour!
Jordan Michelman is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Jordan Michelman on Sprudge.