By Sadie Colwell
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
SoCal in wintertime (read: sunshine) with the perk of perpetual caffeination is basically all you can ask of a single weekend. Year two of Caffeine Crawl San Diego not only sold us on the consistent excellence of the city’s thriving coffee scene, but practically shimmered with all the glowing personalities, passionate baristas, and dedicated roasters that are making the magic happen one double shot at a time.
Friday for The LAB team entailed a beachside train ride to Encinitas, where Matt and Raul welcomed us to Ironsmith Coffee Roaster’s not-yet open space with flash brewed pourovers on ice, local cookies, and a great slideshow on coffee brewing details. Pannikin, a nostalgic cafe in a yellow house that used to be railway stop, drew us downstairs to the roasting space where Helena explained techniques, and Shawn and Dempsey answered questions while we sipped two different Ethiopian coffees, roasted similarly to bring out the flavor differences of the individual beans. At Coffee Coffee (formerly Cafe Ipe), Dan and Scott of Revolution Roasters demonstrated the roasting process while we learned about coffee processing from Victor, their producer from Brazil. Lofty Coffee blew us away at their stunning roasting facility with Guatemala Genesis Reserva brewed via Chemex and Kyoto, and a housemade apple cookie to tie in flavors. Postcards to the farmers at Finca de Dios were signed as we sipped the delicious fruits of their labor, and we left with a deeper appreciation for the coffee journey.
Saturday kicked off with good vibes and jitters at InterAmerican Coffee, Bird Rock Little Italy, and WestBean‘s new space downtown. IAC provided snacks and an abundance of easily-understandable info on green coffee grading, sourcing, sustainability and more, and Crawlers were fascinated. Bird Rock’s beautiful new space was the perfect frame for owner Chuck Patton’s impassioned breakdown of Direct Trade and samples of the famous Esmeralda Estate, and David Bacco Chocolatier was on hand with cardamom truffles. Putting finishing touches on the not-yet-open cafe minutes before Crawlers arrived, the great guys at WestBean welcomed us with a keg of smooth cold brew, chocolate cookies, and eagerness to answer questions.
Discussions of Roya and how it affects the coffeelands as well as a multi-faceted presentation with three different extraction styles ensured a great experience at Cafe Moto, and Rigo and Mary served up Ethiopian Shilcho via pourover and cortado on a custom Stella di Caffe from Unic at Cafe Virtuoso. We sampled cold brew œcocktails with cayenne, sea salt, and housemade caramel sauce on ice at Broke Girls Coffee Bar, and soaked in the transient moments of a cafe about to be born over vanilla infused cold brew from Michael at the new North Park Dark Horse Coffee Roasters space.
Crawlers enjoyed Caffe Calabria’s authentic Italian approach to coffee as well as Sandra’s explanation of the carefully curated, brand new Bean Bar’s roots in Germany and Portland, Ore. Aromatic teas awaited us at Bay Park, after which we all headed back to James Coffee Co. to unwind at the after party over tacos and good conversation. Swag collected in the awesome, reusable totes sporting œDrink Local, Drink Often from San Diego Coffee Network included coffee samples from Angels Cup and James Coffee Co., snack bars from Earnest Eats, and a haul of coupons from participating shops for free drinks and discounts. With the addition of goodies collected along the way, the bags served as take-home mementos of a magical, caffeinated weekend in sunny San Diego.
Sadie Colwell is a completely committed coffee addict who adores coffee shop culture and chocolate. She currently resides in Kansas City with her extraordinary husband, Tyler, and her remarkable dog, Brutus. When she isn’t advancing her unorthodox latte art skills as a barista at Quay coffee, working on a project for The LAB (creators of Caffeine Crawl), or teaching young prodigies to play the piano and like it, she dives headfirst into blogging and freelance projects with reckless abandon.