In Houston, we have experienced our fair share of pub crawls, but there's one drink we haven't gotten to crawl for, and that's coffee.
Missouri-based boutique marketing company The LAB created Caffeine Crawl in 2011. The event spread through the country, reaching a variety of cities (Kansas City, Denver, and Springfield, Missouri) in 2012, followed by Boston and San Francisco in 2013. Now The LAB's Caffeine Crawl is coming to Houston on Saturday, February 22, and will showcase the incredible talents of seven coffee shops: Boomtown Coffee, Blacksmith Coffee Bar, Southside Espresso, Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails, Catalina Coffee, Eatsie Boys Cafe and Paper Co.
Unfortunately, tickets are sold out, but there is a waiting list for any no-shows.
LAB team member Emily McIntyre explains that InterAmerican Coffee, a sponsor for this event, reached out to The LAB to shine the light on coffee offerings in Houston.
"So that was our initial awareness of Houston's coffee scene, but we have been fans for a while," McIntyre says. "And visiting and enjoying the coffee shops and talking with people, we feel that Houston is a city that deserves attention. It has a strong coffee/specialty beverage culture that deserves recognition."
The crawl will begin at Boomtown Coffee, where everyone participating will experience a three-part demonstration for one hour. Owner Matt Toomey says Boomtown will provide two coffee-making demonstrations, and Tejas Chocolate will provide another tutorial, on chocolates, of course.
"We are going to be doing a slow-brew demonstration using the Kalita Wave, and we will be featuring a Guatemalan Geisha varietal, which is a rare, highly sought coffee, and then we are going to do a roasting demonstration as well," Toomey says. "Everyone will be able to taste coffee, chocolate and then for the roasting, we are just going to give all of the participants a quarter-pound bag of coffee to take."
After these presentations, the crawlers will be divided into four groups of about 25 people each, and everyone will receive an itinerary to follow for the rest of the crawl.
"We allot about 25 minutes per shop with driving time in between each shop," McIntyre says, "and the presentations range from ten to 20 minutes, depending on how the shop prefers to do it; so there's time for crawlers to use the bathroom, buy pastries, chat with the owners about what they talked about or anything that interested them."
The presentations at each coffee shop will vary depending on what the baristas and owners want to teach the crawlers.
Patrick Dougherty, barista at Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails, says his shop plans to do an iced-coffee presentation with a cold brew currently on the menu.
"We are just going to go into how we make our cold brew here," Dougherty says. "I think it is something that makes us stand out...Lately we have been using our Kenyran Thiriku -- it is a bright Kenyan coffee and kind of tastes like strawberry jam when it's cold-brewed. It's really fresh and bright."
Catalina Coffee will also do an iced coffee presentation with the shop's slow-drip method. Brendan Moody of Catalina says each crawler will receive six ounces of the iced coffee to enjoy at the coffee shop during the crawl and a bag of Colombia Anda coffee to take home.
Moody says Catalina joined the Caffeine Crawl because "We wanted to support the growing coffee community in Houston."
While most of the shops in the Caffeine Crawl focus strictly on coffee, that doesn't stop the Eatsie Boys Cafe from participating in the event. Chef Matt Marcus says they are going to show the crawlers how to pair coffee drinks, such as cappuccinos and espressos, with food, especially since the crawl will hit the cafe at the peak of its lunch hour.
"I think we might show them an affogato," Marcus says. "It's an Italian dessert, and it's basically a scoop of ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over it."
Marcus says crawlers will receive a discount on lunch at the cafe, too.
All the shops will remain open for business during the crawl, so if you didn't get a ticket to the event, you can still visit your local coffee shop or cafe as you normally would; you'll just have to wait until the next time Caffeine Crawl comes to Houston to enjoy the demonstrations and samples.
"We are really excited to get to participate in Houston's culture, and we are very pleased to see that the tickets sold well and there was a lot of interest," McIntyre says. "We have had people emailing us and contacting us, and honestly, we didn't quite know what to expect going into Houston the first time. So, very cool culture, and we are excited to become a part of it."
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