Guddina hit the road this past week and made the long drive out west to the 2013 Omaha, NE Caffeine Crawl, and boy was it fun. While we were there we met some awesome people, visited a number of different coffee shops (and a roaster), and drank a ton of coffee.
A Caffeine Crawl is an event that’s put on by the fine people at The LAB (formerly LAB 5702). They pick a great city with a lot of specialty, independently owned coffee shops and roasters (plus some tea shops scattered throughout) and send a notice out to their fans in that city to let them know when they’ll be in town. Once they arrive, guests will get a fun tour around the city as they travel from one coffee shop and roaster to another, taking in all of the sights, meeting people in the different communities and getting to know the world of specialty coffee along the way.
That’s something Guddina can definitely get behind, and so we wanted to support them by visiting our friends, Beansmith Coffee Roasters in Omaha while also joining in our very first Caffeine Crawl. Here are a few of the spots that we fell in love with along the way:
Quick Note before you make the jump to the list: Finding coffee shops like these is exactly what the Guddina Web App is being built to help you do. To find out more, go to out homepage and sign-up for our beta newsletter at http://www.guddina.com/
(Presenting: “Good Cup, Bad Cup: Why Sorting Matters”)
The LAB couldn’t have picked a better place to get the event started. Beansmith Coffee has been a friend of Guddina from the beginning, and when Kait of Beansmith first told us that they would be a part of the Caffeine Crawl this year, it quickly hopped to the top of our list of events to go to this year. We drove for 12 hours one way the night before with almost no sleep at all to show up at 10 AM for the event, plenty tired enough that we were begging for coffee (as the photo above shows). Was it worth it? Absolutely.
Beansmith had three parts to their Presentation of “Good Cup, Bad Cup: Why Sorting Matters”, and every bit was as informative of the company as it was the processes of profiling, roasting and brewing coffee. Jason started us off by talking about how he sources the green coffee and fires up his profiling roaster to get a good idea of the quality of each coffee and explained how this step was pivotal in finding any inconsistencies in every coffee before sending it on to their customers. Nick gave a brief lesson to the 100 or so of us that filtered through on how he roasts the coffee to order (they never keep coffee in the Beansmith warehouse for more than a few days), but also shared how he sorts every batch of coffee that he roasts by hand to get rid of any bad beans that are in the batch. That’s an insane amount of quality control right there, and it’s recognizable in how great the coffee tastes as a finished product.
By the time we had finally arrived back at Kait, our group was starving for the black drink. Luckily, that’s what Kait wanted to give to us, and she whipped up two Chemex’s of their new Kenya Karimikui Peaberry to show the difference between a coffee that had been sorted to remove bad beans, and one that had not. This was certainly an eye-opener, and you can expect us to do our own experiments and write-ups on the importance of coffee roasters sorting their coffee in the future.
If you’d like to get to know a little more about Beansmith Coffee Roasters, follow them on Facebook or Twitter. We’re currently offering one of their great coffees in the Guddina Coffee 3-Pack (along side One Line Coffee and Boston Stoker Roasters) which you can order online, here.
(Presenting: “Making home brewing and baking look easy”)
We’d already heard about Aroma’s Coffee House and Bakery once before by the Beansmith crew, and we were super excited to see them on the list of places to visit for this Caffeine Crawl. The dining area itself was very well done, with plenty of comfortable seating areas and couches and tables to work at. As soon as you walk in you’re greeted by the baked goods and talented barista team, ready to serve. Before we even had a chance to try their coffee or hear what they were about, Leah, upon seeing their cinnamon and pecan rolls, decided that this was her time to shine. She ordered one for herself, and we were pleasantly surprised by the flavor. So good, so fresh. The fact that this place served such great baked goods AND Beansmith Coffee immediately put it on our list of places to come back to in the future.
Autumn, the owner of Aroma’s Coffee House (and the week-old sister-store in Benson), gave the Caffeine Crawl presentation herself while another member of the staff handed out fresh made Chai Lattes and Aroma’s Espresso Cookies dipped in chocolate. She introduced us to the Clever brewing method, which is a full-immersion brewing method, and shared how it is one of the easiest brewing methods to use when getting started with manual brewing at home. The Clever dripper is one that we are familiar with here, but it’s always a pleasure to see someone using it in the coffee shop environment. It renders a nice, smooth taste that is hard to beat, but lets the coffee speak for itself and let the drinker know they are enjoying something special.
Before you ask, yes, Guddina can definitely get you a Clever Brewer to use at your own home. Just shoot us an email and ask for the details.
Presentation: “Brewing Coffee Using the Chemex”
Let me just get this out of the way: Urban Abbey was a really wonderful place to visit. This non-profit coffee shop / book store / charity organization had an atmosphere that spoke volumes to their interest in creating a place for people to come and be a part of a community. The coffee, once again coming from Beansmith (though this time it’s been donated by the Roaster, rather than sold), was presented fabulously by their staff (which included SCAA Barista Competition Finalist Isaiah Sheese), and the open seating invited us to come in and relax with a good book.
The presentation, done by the two baristas you see in the photo above, was all about the Chemex pour-over brewing method, with a little dash of the French Press Pot to show the differences in taste that each brewing method can have. There was a lot of technical information given to us here, and while it might have been a little bit much for junior coffee enthusiasts in the group, the side-stories, jokes and casual conversation kept it flowing at a pace that most onlookers could keep up with. By the end of it, I felt like I could personally be a pro Chemex barista at home, even though I’m definitely not (at the very least, I’ll use the tips provided to try and perfect my daily cup).
When we finally left, it was bitter sweet. We’ll definitely go back again to support this philanthropic shop, and you should check them out as well. Follow Urban Abbey on Facebook or Twitter to get started on your journey out there.
Presentation: “Cold Brew and Iced Coffee”
Tucked away in the Omaha Conservatory of Music, sits a coffee house that, while a bit difficult to find, is worth the trouble of looking for. Accelerando Coffee House is owned by two Omaha musicians that show their passion for musical performance and artisan coffee in a great little way. They’ve built a small, cozy coffee shop in the small nook on the bask side of the Conservatory and invite musicians and non-musicians alike to come in and enjoy a good drink away from the insanity that can happen in busier parts of town. Every week they host a few events to invite the locals out, so if you’re planning on stopping by, check to see what they’ve got going on first.
Cody Jorgenson, one of the owners of this two-member team, gave a presentation on Iced Coffee and Cold Brewing Methods. While the Guddina team didn’t quite make it to the presentation on time (we were so busy having fun chatting with the owner of the next shop on this list), we did make it with enough time to try two different coffees that they had prepared for us using the Toddy method. Being the last stop on our list of shops to see, and iced coffee was exactly what was needed to feel refreshed after a long day of drinking a dozen different hot coffees around the city. Accelerando’s drink served that purpose well, as did the small pastry we bought from them on the way out (which was made by the same Aroma’s Coffee House we mentioned above).
Accelerando might be difficult to find in real life, but it’s easy to keep in touch with them online. Follow Accelerando Coffee House on Facebook and Twitter. Being a musical performer myself, I’m looking forward to finding them again when we visit Omaha in the future.
Presentation: Coffee and Community
This coffee shop (and bike shop) is EXACTLY the reason why the Guddina Web App is being built. First of all, Omaha Bicycle Co. is not, on first glance, putting across the image of being ann artisan coffee shop, and yet that’s exactly what they are (on top of their bike services, of course). Their very small team of four people keeps the espresso bar running with an awesome organized chaos that’s fun to watch. It cannot be expressed enough, this place was really, really cool. We loved it from the moment we saw the painting on the side of their building, until we walked off the awesome back patio where the staff likes to tie up their own custom-modded bikes. If we could only tell you about one coffee shop in Omaha that you should go out of your way to find, it would be this one. They’re unique, make great drinks, and put a huge amount of emphasis on Community, which, as you should probably know, we love every bit of.
The owner of OBC, Sarah Johnson, talked about coffee and its role in community. Having been a small business owner now for a few years, her team understands that for them, community is their lifeblood. They aren’t just growing a business where people can come and hang out, though, OBC is actively involved in the neighborhoods and city around the shop, and they are a driving force behind a lot of the changes that are happening for bike riders in Omaha. Community for them is more than just a place – it’s a lifestyle, and that means taking action within your communities to make a difference.
We love that attitude. Bravo, Omaha Bicycle Co. Thanks for capturing our vision way before you ever met us.
When’s the next Caffeine Crawl?
Right now The LAB is getting prepped for a big event back in their hometown of Kansas City (there are only 4 tickets left!) We won’t be going to that one (need a little break to work on things back here in Dayton and Columbus, OH), but you can bet we’ll be watching them for another go-around next year!
If you’d like to see if The LAB is bringing any Caffeine Crawls to your city, keep up with them on Facebook and Twitter (or just watch our blog here – we’ll give you all of the details as they arrive).
Have you been to any of these coffee shops or a Caffeine Crawl before? Know of another coffee shop that we should go see in the future? Tell us what you think of it all in the comments!