Coffee is a community, and nowhere else is this more effectively demonstrated than through a Caffeine Crawl. No ordinary ‘crawl’; this was an exploration into the ever-expanding coffee scene in my hometown of Denver.
The crawls, organized by beverage promoter The LAB , are not isolated to our Rocky Mountain paradise; they are taking place all over the country and expanding rapidly as coffee’s Third Wave continues to sweep across the U.S. The goal of the crawl is to foster relationships between the public and local specialty shops. I will publicly and happily declare that this mission was 100% accomplished.
You may have seen my post on craft coffee, the latest explosion of creativity here in the Mile High city, where I talk about the Coffee Bazaar and the Caffeine Crawl. Here it was, my chance to be a part of the crawl, and it was everything I had hoped for – caffeine hangover and all. 😉
Coffee Connoisseur Transformation
In the past three years, I have gone from coffee N008 to coffee ‘go-to-guy’ thanks in large part to the super friendly demeanor and willingness of the local baristas and roasters to talk shop whilst sipping or slurping their latest creations. I now incorporate coffee into my travels, never stepping foot in a new city or new country without first searching for the best coffee in town. Once I arrive, I ask them what their favorite coffee house is and compare it with my list.
The Crawl; however, was something more. It was a social gathering, the pinnacle of my coffee education and an introduction to some of the best coffee in town: Six different stops in one afternoon, four of which I had not yet visited (there is only so much coffee a guy can drink). This was face time with roasters, shop owners and baristas who were happy to hold back the curtain and give deep insights into the origins and roasting techniques that define 3rd wave coffee. It was, in short, an awesome day, which floats back into my memory every morning as I run beans through the grinder.
Click here for a definition of the 1st-3rd waves of coffee and a peek into what the 4th wave might look like.
Launching at Pablo’s on Penn (Pablo’s second location), it was clear that we were in for an experience; we were no longer outsiders looking in and vaguely talking about regions and single source this or that. We were initiates into the world of coffee. Talk of wash processes, brewing methods and how to take your morning home brew from average to artful was just the beginning.
Our group of coffee enthusiasts meandered from neighborhood to neighborhood, sampling exotic regions, twists on the classics, and completely new concoctions straight from the test kitchen. Each stop brought nods of agreement that we had found coffee heaven and stories of how we each set up our home brew methods. Throughout the crawl, our guide Jason facilitated the interaction and was clearly having as much fun as the rest of us. He too had found his tribe.
Four hours later, during a live presentation at our final stop Commonwealth Coffee owner Jason tied the tour in a perfect bow, emphasizing that coffee was about community and building relationships, not just a vehicle for making it through the day. He then punched home the idea that taste is subjective (further expanding the theme of inclusion) by demonstrating one of the ‘best techniques’ for getting the most out of your French Press.
If you are a coffee aficionado looking for your coffee loving tribe or if you feel that you have not properly explored your area (but you JUST KNOW that there is good coffee out there) look no further than this scavenger hunt of community, flavor, and experimentation.