Caffeine Crawl 2015

Caffeine Crawl 2015

I left the Spring 2015 Caffeine Crawl this weekend stimulated with ideas and, yes, caffeine. Sadie Colwell (above) of The Lab led a small group on the tour as we visited six coffeehouses or roasters in the West Bottoms, Midtown and south Kansas City.

The tours are split among four routes each for Saturday and Sunday. Now in its fifth year, the Kansas City Caffeine Crawl, founded by Jason Burton of The Lab, sell out each spring and fall. Coffee, tea and even chocolate is the focus during the tour. The stops include tastings, brewing demonstrations and brief exchanges with roasters and baristas. It’s fun, educational and social, a great way to learn about Kansas City’s increasingly diverse, maturing beverage culture.

Caffeine Crawl cups
My tour includes stops at Blip Roasters, The Roasterie’s Factory Cafe, Mud Pie Vegan Bakery and Coffeehouse, Filling Station, One More Cup and Second Best Coffee. I learned something new at each stop that justified the bountiful caffeine intake. While it was a long day, I look forward to exploring other routes at the next Caffeine Crawl in the fall.

Below, a recap of the day through photos.

Blip Roasters, 1331 St. Louis Ave., West Bottoms

Co-owners Ian Davis and Conrad Amirof will open a walk-in only cafe this summer that’s “zero occupancy,” meaning it’s take-out with no seating. The West Bottoms location doesn’t have the population density yet to support a standard cafe setting. This shop will be connected to their roasting facility.

Blip Roasters entrance

Blip Roasters 3
Blip Roasters 2
Blip Roasters 1

Blip Ian Davis

Ian Davis of Blip Roasters.

Blip Extra fine

Blip Conrad Amirof Ian Davis

Conrad Amirof and Ian Davis of Blip Roasters.

The Roasterie Factory Cafe
– 1204 W. 27th St.

Mike Valent, Director of Operations for The Roasterie Cafés, brewed and poured samples of Sumatra Mandheling, Guatemala Finca Candelaria and Estate of Kenya coffees paired with samples of aged gouda, brownie and peanut butter on a pretzel.


Roasterie Mike Valent prep

Mike Valent of The Roasterie.


Roasterie tasting 2

Roasterie food

Roasterie tasting

Roasterie Mike Valent


Mud Pie Vegan Bakery and Coffeehouse, 1615 W. 39th St.

Located in a house built in the 1870s, this building on W. 39th has been the home of coffeehouses for the past two decades. Currently owned and operated by Michael and Ashley Valverde and Ashley’s mother Sharon Hughes, the staff has breathed new life into the space. The coffee bar was rebuilt by local studio Second Life to be more open and efficient. The owners freshened the house’s interior decor and furnishings.

Most notably, the vegan bakery produces sweet and savory goods on a par with the house-roasted coffee. Try the cheddar and seitan sausage scones, a best-seller. The house-made bagels, muffins and cookie bars were tasty.

One of the coffee samplers, Dirty South, was a blend of chicory and coffee au lait. Non-dairy drinkers can choose from rice, soy, cashew and almond milk among the many alternatives.


MIchael Valverde

MIchael Valverde

Mud Pie barista

Mud Pie 2

Mud Pie 1

Sharon Hughes, Ashley Valverde and Michael Valverde.

Sharon Hughes, Ashley Valverde and Michael Valverde.



Filling Station, 2980 McGee Trafficway

Messenger Coffee purchased a controlling interest from Filling Station founder Robin Krause last fall and now operates four locations throughout metro KC. At the Midtown location, the tour group popped in for a sample of affogatto, a traditional Italian beverage that combines vanilla gelato or ice cream with hot espresso for a creamy treat.


Filling Station

Filling Station Messenger Coffee

Filling Station interior

Filling Station counter

Filling Station baristas

One More Cup
, 7408 Wornall Rd.

Even as caffeine fatigue began to set in, the tour group rallied for the next-to-last stop in Waldo. Stacy Neff, co-owner of One More Cup with husband Jeremy, shared notes about the coffee shop’s espressos, commitment to community, environmentally-friendly practices and fun, relaxed approach to good coffee.

Guest Tyler Beckett of Hugo Tea chatted about his company and connection to One More Cup, one of the many venues in town that carry Hugo Tea’s chai concentrate. Beckett discussed how his chai’s flavor profile uses more clove than ginger for a bolder result even those clove is an extremely expensive ingredient. Hugo Tea, based in North Kansas City, brews their chai concentrate in the tanks at neighboring brewery, The Big Rip. That afternoon, we sampled Hugo chai made with regular Shatto Dairy milk and a sweeter root beer chai. Both were delicious.

One More Cup Stacy Neff 2

Stacy Neff of One More Cup.


Hugo Tea Tyler Beckett

Tyler Beckett of Hugo Tea.


Second Best Coffee, 328 W. 85th St.

Our final stop in Waldo brought us to Second Best Coffee, an espresso-centro slow bar with the telling slogan “Midwestern Modesty.” The shop’s understated name reflects the idea that owners and baristas always have something to learn and improve on when it comes to roasting, brewing and serving coffee. They continually strive for the best.

We enjoyed cold brew coffee served from a nitrogenated keg. The resulting coffee was mellow with fruit and creamy chocolate notes present. Second Best is the first, if not only, place in town serving coffee with this technique.


Secondbest Coffee

Secondbest coffee 2

Tacos at Bichelmeyer Meats

Tacos at Bichelmeyer Meats

I couldn’t resist the offer when my friends Craig and Gay Jones sent a text message and invited me to meet them at Bichelmeyer Meats for tacos.

Bichelmeyer is a must-visit food destinations in Kansas City for the following two reasons:  1) It’s a fifth generation, family-owned butcher shop operating since 1946 that sells a vast selection of fresh meats and 2) They sell fresh-made tacos each Saturday that rank among the best in the city.

Sadly, I’ve never visited Bichelmeyer until this past weekend. I knew about the butcher shop’s reputation for excellent meat and tacos, but it was always further down on my bucket list. Life’s short. I needed to break up my routine and procrastinate from writing. The text message provided the perfect excuse to make a trip, eat and socialize.

Bichelmeyers taco line

Taco sign

Taco assembly

As expected, a noontime lunch line spanned the length of the butcher’s counter. Craig, Gay and I queued up, ordered and secured seats at a table, hands loaded with styrofoam plates full of tacos and sauces. I opted for a lengua (beef tongue), buche (hog maw) and chuleta haumada (smoked pork chop), each one topped with chopped cilantro, onion and salsa verde. More standard fare on the menu included pastor (pork steak), asada (beef steak) or pollo enchilada (spicy chicken).

Craig with order

Craig Jones with order in hand.


Taco al pastor

A pineapple mounted on top drips juice and flavors the meat for tacos al pastor. A brazier on the left keeps the cooked meat hot.


The lengua was tender with a pronounced roast beef flavor. The finely minced buche was also tender while the heftier pieces of smoked pork chop in the chuleta was chewy, almost like eating ham in a breakfast taco. I gobbled them with delight.

I won’t wait a lifetime to return.

NY Times Creates Field Guide to American Sandwich

NY Times Creates Field Guide to American Sandwich

NY Times writer Sam Sifton develops a Field Guide to the American Sandwich. Do you agree with his premise?

For the purposes of this field guide, we have laid down parameters. A hamburger is a marvelous sandwich, but it is one deserving of its own guide. The same holds for hot dogs, and for tacos and burritos, which in 2006, in the case known as Panera v. Qdoba, a Massachusetts judge declared were not sandwiches at all. Open-faced sandwiches are not sandwiches. Gyros and shawarmas are not sandwiches. The bread that encases them is neither split nor hinged, but wrapped.


There are five main families of sandwich in The New York Times Field Guide.

There are sandwiches made on Kaiser or “hard” rolls.

There are sandwiches made on soft buns.

There are sandwiches made on long hero or sub rolls.

There are sandwiches made on sliced bread.

View the full Field Guide.

What’s your favorite sandwich? Is it homemade or do you seek out the Cubano at Pigwich? The Sugar Burger from Ventana Gourmet Grill? The spicy meatloaf sandwich at The Brick? The Butcher’s Grind Burger (below) at Genessee Royale Bistro? Leave your comment below.

Bichelmeyer burger lowres