The action-packed Caffeine Crawl Chicago in June was one of the best in history
BY SADIE COWELL
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
After four years of Caffeine Crawls across the country, the caffeinated charge came to Chicago in June, in collaboration with Coffee Fest.
Asado Coffee Roasters kicked off multiple routes with œTokyo style Tanzanian pourovers and a pretense-free approach to great coffee. The team from Halfwit Coffee served up side-by-side brew method comparisons, while we soaked up the throwback vibes at The Wormhole, and sent us home with whole bean samples and brew recipes. At Dollop Uptown, Rishi Tea joined the fun with tea 101 and tea + Pacific non-dairy beverages, while Dollop’s other two locations focused on all the delightful things you can do with Metropolis Coffee. We headed to the Metropolis Granville location for a Toddy vs. Kyoto presentation that made TDS (total dissolved solids) approachable, and tasty.
Passion House Coffee Roasters welcomed us to their unique roasting space with smiles, roasting aromas, and good vibes. We gathered around a table filled with fruits, chocolate, nuts, and spices, and were invited to smell and sample before tasting a Chemex brewed Gesha coffee. S P I R I T Tea held a pop up at the St. Boniface Cemetery, and we enjoyed the irony alongside servings of four flavorful teas, hot and cold. Once inside Heritage Outpost, we collectively wished we lived in the apartment building it anchors, and we sipped a hot Colombian brew while enjoying the ambiance. At Ipsento, we crowded into the cozy shop for first-hand observation of nitro coffee on tap. Out on the sidewalk patio, we learned about the nitro tap tricycles they’ll soon be peddling through the streets of Chicago.
Awake Cafe surprised us by brewing up a really excellent cup of Metropolis decaf ”a rarity on Caffeine Crawls (for obvious reasons), but organic and delicious. Gathering in the chic space of Katherine Anne Confections meant soaking up delicious aromas alongside a variety of hot and frozen drinking chocolates, topped with housemade marshmallows and other delights. Big Shoulders served up Cafe Bonbons ”espresso poured over ice with a layer of sweetened condensed milk ”and a ˜Coffee Arnold Palmer,’ which blended housemade ginger-lemonade with cold brew to create a uniquely refreshing experience.
Cup and Spoon welcomed Crawlers from the sidewalk all the way to the back of their cozy neighborhood shop, where they brewed up Chemex, v60, and Toddy brews of Metropolis coffee and exemplified their motto of “coffee, community, and art. The hidden back patio at Delicious Cafe is almost as spectacular as their vegan baked goods and Chapin Coffee options, and Autumn and Jennifer tag-teamed a great presentation on both. The Chicago roasting space of La Colombe welcomed us with take-home samples, a siphon-brewed Esmeralda estate honey processed Gesha, and a great question-and-answer session.
The team at Berrista took our taste buds on a trip like none other: plum tea, housemade grapefruit soda, and cold brew were made instantly sweeter after a œmiracle berry juice ice cube, and exploring the taste-receptor-blocking phenomenon left us all enchanted. Our very own Caffeine Crawl menu at Portage Grounds had us feeling right at home after a long walk in the sunshine, and we sipped contentedly as Robert told us all about the friendly neighborhood shop. Scott at Caffe Streets brewed up Kenya and Peru Metric Coffees via Chemex for a compare-and-contrast tasting, and we thoroughly enjoyed a unique coffee creme soda made with cocoa nibs, espresso, club soda, and cream at Bad Wolf Coffee. Eastman Egg unleashed a homemade Twinkie from Stella Bakes alongside a Chemex brew of Sparrow Coffee, and served up cold brew alongside sandwiches from their food truck.
We learned about teas from around the world at one of the only two TeaGshwendner shops in the U.S., and left feeling very worldly-wise in the way of tea leaves. Osmium, a Dark Matter Coffee shop, sampled their Chocolate City nitro cold brew and discussed the brew process and local collaborations while we sipped. Bow Truss welcomed us to their River North space for coffee and visionary expansion insight, and we left with a bottle of cold brew for the road. The team at HERO Coffee Bar demoed brewing with a roast from Headstash Roasting, and Omar filled us in on shop history at Filter Cafe while passing out iced coffee and œThe Brown Monkey, their famous frozen coffee drink.
Crawlers went home with stellar swag bags from Yelp Chicago (plus mints and ponchos, both helpful for a tasting event with a drizzly forecast) complete with DaVinci syrups, Earnest Eats bars, Rishi and Tea Gschwendner teas, Big Shoulders Coffee beans, stickers, free drink cards, and more. As always, we couldn’t have pulled off such a fabulous caffeinated feat without the help of our awesome sponsors: Coffee Fest, Unic, The Local Tourist, Barista Magazine, Sleeve a Message, Urnex, and CUSP Magazine, just to name a few! Chicago, you were grand, and we’re already planning big things for next year. Until then!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brimming with ambition, sarcasm and caffeinated zeal, Sadie Colwell is fascinated by all things beverage and the extraordinary humans behind them. Recently relocated from KCMO to Fort Collins, Colorado, you can find her behind the bar of Harbinger Coffee or hunkered down with a cappuccino, fervently planning the next Caffeine Crawl or blogging for The LAB. When she isn’t traveling to caffeinated cities, she drinks a lot of local beer and lets her dog take her for long, vivacious walks through City Park.