Kansas City’s thick with coffee houses and roasters these days, each with its distinctive take on the world’s most valuable bean.
It’s a generous community, too, one that’s largely happy answering customer questions about coffee varieties, processing, roasting, blending and brewing. Some even offer occasional classes, events or tours.
But Jason Burton of beverage consulting company The Lab thought there could be more to the local coffee education experience. That’s why he launched the Caffeine Crawl in 2011.
“When we were brainstorming the idea for this concept, we wanted to break down the barrier between the enthusiastic consumer and the professionals,” Burton says.
The Lab organized Caffeine Crawls in Kansas City; Springfield, Mo., and Denver that first year. In 2012, it hosted crawls in five cities, including Vancouver.
The third annual KC tour caps 2013’s eight-city run, and there are at least 10 in the works for next year, Burton says.
Each crawl follows a similar format: ticket holders choose between set itineraries that include samples and presentations at six to eight coffee, tea or chocolate shops. But the crawls are also unique, in that they showcase the host city’s own beverage culture.
“Each reflects the personality of the industry in that market,” Burton says. “I love, love, love studying the landscape in these markets.”
This year’s Kansas City Caffeine Crawl runs Nov. 1 to Nov. 3, with three itineraries taking in 22 local businesses.
The Friday night crawl begins at Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard in Leawood, and then works its way through midtown to downtown with stops at Mud Pie Vegan Bakery Coffeehouse, Oddly Correct Coffee Roasters, One More Cup, Quay Coffee and Shang Tea.
There are guided bus and bike tour options, as well as a drive-yourself version. Tickets are availableonline
and range from $24 to $32.
Sadly, Saturday’s tickets were all snapped up within a week of going on sale. Folks holding one of those get to visit About The Coffee with PT’s Coffee Roasting Co., Annedore’s Fine Chocolates, Benetti’s Coffee Experience, Broadway Café Roasting Company, Christopher Elbow Artisan Chocolates, Crossroads Coffee and The Filling Station in Union Hill.
There are still tickets available for the Sunday crawl through Johnson County, though. That line-up includes Black Dog Coffeehouse, E.F. Hobbs Specialty Coffee with Homer’s Coffeehouse, Latte Land and Kaldi’s Coffee, Parisi Artisan Coffee in Leawood and Revocup. It then finishes at The Roasterie downtown.
“I just know it’s been really good the last two years, and this year it’s going to be even better,” Burton says.
Anne Brockhoff is an award-winning spirits writer who writes a monthly column for The Star’s Food section, as well as food features. She blogs at food_drink_ life.wordpress.com .