Kansas City was host to the very first Caffeine Crawl in 2011, and the spirit of collaboration and community has only grown since then, as seen in the latest Caffeine Crawl this November.
BY SADIE RENEE
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
If there’s one thing the coffee scene in Kansas City has going, it’s collaboration. From the annual KC Coffee & Tea Week, two Caffeine Crawls per year, the community organized ˜Cowtown Throwdown‘ Facebook group, the beverage scene hardly allows KC the status of œflyover city. Partnerships and pairings are something you’ll find at almost every cafe, and the 2016 Fall Kansas City Caffeine Crawl showcased exactly that ”an incredible lineup of caffeinated creativity and community collaboration.
Parisi Coffee has been setting the bar high for food science-meets-coffee since the first Kansas City Caffeine Crawl (and first Caffeine Crawl of all time) in September of 2011. This year was no exception ”Parisi Coffee hosted a culinary experience highlighting a Rwandan coffee paired with a coffee infused butternut squash tart. Switching gears, we received a full, deconstructed understanding of coffee fruit anatomy from Ben Helt of Midwest Coffee Trading at Brew Gallery, and sipped several brew bar selections from Meta Coffee Roasting Co. while œclass was in session.
Through coffee and tea, Kaldi’s Coffee showed how multiple flavors can come together to bring out the best in each other. An elaborate pairing featured the tasting note items from their featured Black Honey Process Costa Rican coffee – bakers chocolate, cantaloupe, dried cherries and mum blossoms for aromatics highlighted the unique flavors of the Chemex brew. The same experience was provided for their Firepot Nomadic Darjeeling Tea. We tasted Himalayan pink sea salt and white wine made with muscadine grapes, with lilies for aromatics.
A great example of KC beverage industry partnership came our way in awesome sample glasses at Colony Espresso & Beer. Post Coffee Co. cold brew paired with Left Hand Brewing‘s Chocolate Milk Stout, and a fantastic tea collaboration from Hugo Tea Co. involved a refreshing Berry Rooibos alongside it’s ˜grown up’ sibling – a rooibos tea infused sour beer from Crane Brewing. Headrush Coffee Roasters continued the theme of coffee & tea pairings ”a traditional matcha tea ceremony and a coffee roasting demo kept the buzz going.
With so many options when it comes to collaborative ingredients, selection becomes a matter of preference – and good taste. Tony Harrison, barista at the newly opened Goat Hill Coffee & Soda on the Westside, hit the nail on the head with a stunning twist on a cold brew coffee ˜Old Fashioned.’ The drink, headed for the cafe’s regular menu soon, is an elegant combination of a Colombian coffee brewed Kyoto style, orange and spice infused local honey, and local walnut clove bitters from The W Bar in Independence, MO. This neighborhood speakeasy serves the same clientele as Post Coffee Co, and Tanner Stevens and Levi Holland own both Post Coffee and Goat Hill Coffee & Soda. Similar to the balance achieved in a good community, Tanner shares that one of their goals at Goat Hill is to create balanced drinks ”bitter with sweet, coming together for a wonderful experience.
Zach Domville, barista at Quay Coffee, put the choice of balance back into the hands of Caffeine Crawlers with a full lineup of coffee mocktail ingredients. Blueprint cold brew, ginger beer, blackberries, citrus, and bitters were just a few of the options as Crawlers crafted their ideal drink. More caffeinated experiences awaited at the other participating Crawl shops: About The Coffee, Broadway Cafe & Roasting Company, City Market Coffee Roasters, and Eleos Coffee all provided unique flavors and insight. From live music at Homer’s Coffee House, uppers and downers at the Dutchman Coffee Roastery inside Cinder Block Brewery, to coffee and cacao roasting at Maps Coffee, the diversity held our attention all weekend long.
More great stops at Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard, Heirloom Bakery & Hearth, Parkville Coffee, PT’s Coffee Roasting Co., RevoCup, Ruby Jean’s Juicery wrapped up another great Caffeine Crawl through KC. One route took The Barley Bus, and Crawlers took home plenty of swag from Wholesome!, Yelp KC, Boxo Coffee and Print Time, plus a free Passport Program Winter Warmer.
Gregory Kolsto, owner and roaster at Oddly Correct Coffee Roasters, sums up the KC coffee experience well. œWhen a new shop opens up, we don’t look at is as competition, we look at it as differentiation ”it makes us more unique. In business, the idea of œsomeone has to fail for us to succeed, isn’t true in KC coffee, thanks to curious people like Caffeine Crawlers. We exist to push the status quo of coffee forward ”in Kansas City, the Midwest, and the country.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brimming with ambition, sarcasm, and caffeinated zeal, Sadie Renee is fascinated by all things beverage and the extraordinary humans that make them. A KCMO native loving life in Fort Collins, Colo., she spends most of her time drinking extravagant amounts of coffee and planning the next Caffeine Crawl for The LAB. When she’s not on a plane to a beverage destination, you can find her conducting research at a local brewery or pouring the occasional latte behind the bar at Everday Joe’s Coffehouse. After she lets her dog take her for a long, vivacious walk around the neighborhood, she likes to soak up some mountain magic and wind down with a good cocktail.