By Jason Burton
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
After a one year hiatus from Indianapolis, Caffeine Crawl brought it back with a sold out crowd traveling the city by bike, car and bus. We won’t be missing a year again!
Three amazing roasters kicked off the event with routes starting at Bee Coffee Roasters, Julian Coffee Roasters, and Mile Square Coffee Roastery. At Bee’s downtown location, Wilks & Wilson led a presentation with Bee owner Bj Davis covering coffee cocktails: W&W Tonic paired with Bee espresso. Mile Square Coffee Roastery was new to this year’s event, and gave a tour of their roasting facility (including a peek at their San Franciscan roaster, Ray Charles). Coffee was served from their mobile cafe, with fennel and almond biscotti on the side. Julian Coffee Roasters had multiple stations set up for a variety of coffee tastings: Ethiopian coffee and cascara tea on draft, a Curtis Gold Cup brewed Honduran, and espresso drinks energized Crawlers for a tour of their newly remodeled space.
Foundry Provisions took care of us with Long’s Bakery donut holes and drinks from the Unic espresso machine. Kimmie focused her talk on the Foundry’s local goods and influence from the community, while Elizabeth at Best Chocolate In Town spoke deeply of her love for chocolate. We felt the same after samples, and couldn’t leave without securing a few items for later. Another new stop was Hubbard & Cravens Coffee & Tea, and the spotlight was on the Indiana-based Modbar for single origin pourover brews at their downtown location. General American Doughnut shared their story as we devoured salted caramel donuts and washed down the magnificent culinary work with a side of Stumptown Coffee – a Portland couple that loved coffee opened a donut shop in Indy, and we’re sure glad they did. We joined Ross and crew outside Milktooth for Mexico Chemex brews from Halfwit, and savored both the coffee and the sweater weather.
Caffeine dreams came true on the north side of town, where Lulu’s Coffee +Bakehouse set up stations for Crawlers to participate in a brew method demo. That won over a lot of new AeroPress fans, and Steve and Tiffany paired excitement with tasty scones and held a giveaway raffle for each group. Bites by Confectioneiress served up 3 different coffee cocktails, and Vic-the-drink-magician blew us away with a riff on an old-fashioned, a warm seasonal concoction, and espresso panna cotta. Science geek heaven at SoHo Cafe & Gallery meant watching a Siphon brew process of single origin coffee from Counter Culture, and giveaway prizes for each group sweetened the deal as we sipped. Crawlers went home with event bags full of whole-bean coffee from the roasters, goodies from Yelp Indy, Wholesome Sweeteners, and Rip Van Wafels, and extra swag from shop giveaways.
The actual Crawl ended with six stops per route, but the party wasn’t over yet. Everyone was invited back to Julian’s in Zionsville for the After Crawl Party, where a variety of Sun King Brewing Co. beers were waiting to be paired with pulled pork tacos by Patrick’s Kitchen. Bhakti Chai supplied a warm, non-alcoholic option that many cozied up to the bonfire with, and more treats were in store with cake and freebies from Barista Magazine and Espresso Parts. This was a Caffeine Crawl to remember, and proof that Indianapolis is a strong coffee city with many fans of their local treasures.
Jason Burton is one of the badasses on The LAB team, a specialty beverage marketing company and creators of the Caffeine Crawl. He has worked in specialty coffee since moving back to Kansas City in 2004, and has traveled the country trying the best espresso, brews, signature drinks and analyzing customer service. With The LAB, he works on branding / design, social media, event planning, strategy and studying consumers. He pours latte art like a 4 year old and works a pourover like a nervous barista competitor. Outside of the industry he stays young being an active father and husband, and winds down with a good beer over some Netflix documentary marathons.