Superb specialty-coffee and tea is getting easy to find in Omaha, as Caffeine Crawlers recently discovered
BY JASON BURTON
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
Omaha really stepped it up a notch this year for Caffeine Crawl! It’s been so exciting to watch the city’s coffee and tea community grow each year. This was the third event in Omaha, and the first Friday night kickoff before a full day on Saturday. From the great weather to the amazing destinations, it couldn’t have been a more perfect event.
Four different roasters showcased their coffees with drinks inspired by each company’s sourcing and roasting practices. Hardy Coffee hosted the Crawlers at their roasting facility with Bliss Old Market Bakery treats and three hot brews: Ethiopia Guji, Peru El Cedro, and Brazil Criminosos. The roaster, Nick, presented on the journey of coffee from discovery to brewing.
Brenna and Matt at Mug Life Coffee made two fabulous cold-coffee drinks for the groups, including a new menu item: the Cafe Mojito with grapefruit and a Kenya brewed with on a Filtron. The great presentation at Beansmith Coffee Roasters was led by Ian and Chad, who brewed the same coffee using different water ”filtered, spring, and tap water ”for a compare/contrast tasting. We each went home with a sample bag of Beansmith’s new Peru, and tips on brewing a better cup.
At Archetype Coffee, Isaiah and Jason hosted a condensed cupping on coffee triangulation wherein we all tried three different coffees to find the one that was different than the other two. They explained details of roasting and variables in reference to getting the most out of individual coffees.
Our only non-coffee shop, The Tea Smith, served a matcha on ice that a volunteer Crawler would help whisk on each route, as well as a carbonated mate with a fruit syrup. Culprit Cafe and Bakery used an Earl Grey from The Tea Smith, along with guava and lavender to make push-up tea popsicles for us. Now that was a first ”a caffeinated popsicle ”for a Caffeine Crawl.
Aromas Coffeehouse also explored tea with a chai bar full of drink options. On the Friday-night route, Aromas was the last stop, and we enjoyed pretzels with samples of their collaboration brew of Hardy Coffee and Benson Brewery. Also in Benson, our bike experts, Omaha Bicycle Company, had a choice of a Toddy brew of Denver-based Sweet Bloom’s (active on the Colorado Crawls) Hometown Blend over ice, or OBC’s signature lavender fog. It was nice to see Accelerando Coffee House‘s new space, too, where we enjoyed Chemexes made using PT’s Coffee (active on the KC Crawls), and bubble waffles. It seems Accelerando is the only place to get this Hong Kong-inspired snack in the west.
After all 5 routes wrapped up, baristas, ticket holders, and a few new faces gathered at Premier Blends Group for a Saturday evening After Crawl Party. Premier hosted the city’s first coffee mocktail competition with snacks and a homebrew from one of their South Dakota accounts that was visiting for the weekend activities. Archetype’s Isaiah Sheese took first place, winning a nice chunk of change and some other take home gifts.
From the presentations, drinks, and sweet goodie bags ”which were packed with coffee, gifts from Wholesome!, Yelp Omaha, and several local shops) ”year #3 in the O was a good time! We all went home with new coffee and tea knowledge, and caffeinated smiles.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.