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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.