Asheville coffee lovers cycle for coffee and community
BY JOSH O’CONNER
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
The second year of the Asheville Caffeine Crawl attracted a motley crew of local cyclist and coffee aficionados willing to brave the early summer heat in search of good coffee and in support of a charitable cause. Riders congregated at Vortex Doughnuts in downtown Asheville, N.C., each receiving a passport to confirm their stops before embarking on their œTour de Coffee.
This year’s crawl (not to be confused with the Caffeine Crawl organization run out of Kansas City) united the riders on a group ride that utilized suggested routes to go from point to point. The group atmosphere added an additional layer to the community-oriented nature of the crawl, giving riders to the opportunity to make new connections, compare bikes, and share tips about the best drinks at each stop.
In addition to creating an opportunity for local cyclists to enjoy Asheville’s vibrant coffee scene, the ride was centered on supporting the construction of the Karama Education Center in Uganda. The Karama Education center is a project of the Chain Collaborative and the Nyamigoye Coffee Farmers Group (NCFG) and is intended address the need for both quality education for farmers’ children and capacity-building opportunities for farmers.
The Chain Collaborative is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that partners with local groups, like-minded organizations and members of the coffee industry to contribute to sustainable development in the coffee lands. The NCFG, a partner organization with The Chain Collaborative, is a collective of over 250 coffee farmers in Nyamigoye Parish, Southwestern Uganda. The NCFG was established to promote better farming practices, enhance the quality of member farms’ coffee, sell coffee collectively to reach more markets and create community projects to contribute to member families’ livelihoods.
The Caffeine Crawl created local awareness for the project, unified participating coffee shops through their contributions to the project, and solicited support from riders and customers through placement of donation jars and project information at each stop on the crawl.
Riders braved an eight mile route that included a series of moderate descents and ascents as they traveled from Asheville’s downtown, through its evolving œRiver Arts District , onto the main drag in the lively West Asheville community, and back through downtown.
Variations of iced coffee were the more popular drink of the day, punctuated by an occasional beer, as participants made their way between stops including High Five Coffee, Trade and Lore, Izzy’s Coffee House, O.W.L. Bakery and Find Your Line Bike Shop.
The crawl concluded with a boisterous post-ride party replete with a live DJ, 1000 Faces Cold Brew and fresh doughnuts on the patio shared by Vortex Doughnuts and Catawba Brewing. Eli Masem, Vortex’s front-of-house manager, gave an overview of the Karama Education Center as participants threw their completed passports in for a drawing that included schwag from Vortex Doughnuts, 1000 Faces Coffee, Catawba Brewing, Barista Magazine and Find Your Line Bicycles.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh O’Conner is an urban/land use planner with a passion for food, bicycles, farms, and the outdoors. By day he works as a recreation manager multitasking between planning for active transportation, urban agriculture, programming for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and trying to remember where he left his cup of coffee. He occasionally satiates his fantasy of being a famous writer with freelance work and can be reached at @kalepiracy or @joshoconner on Twitter or e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.