It’s that time of year again…. well not quite. If you have been in Kansas City recently or live here you have noticed a big influx of coffee shops that have opened or are opening up in the past 6 months and there are still more to come. Jason Burton of the LAB definitely noticed. Calling Kansas City his home, and home to the Caffeine Crawl. Last year the Crawl was 3 days because of the many additions to our coffee community as well as awesome tea shops. He knew there was not going to realistic to make it a 4 day crawl, or if he kept it at 3 days there were going to be shops that would be left out. Each and every shop adds to the diversity and culture in our beautiful coffee community, and even beverage community. To fix this dilemma he decided to make a Spring crawl and a Fall crawl. This also gives more people opportunity to visit and experience our coffee scene.
The first day happened this last weekend, May 31. We met up at Shang Tea located on the first floor of Crown Center. There picked up our goodie bags filled with items from Wholesome Sweeteners, Rip Van Waffles, and other stuff from local shops as well. This is also where we met who would be our fearless leader taking us from shop to shop and making sure that we stay on time, as well as asking questions. Jason also got up and talked about the history of the Caffeine Crawl and that this crawl was number 23!
We left Shang Tea to head to our first stop at Quay Coffee in the Historic River Market. There we we greeted by a very familiar and almost iconic mustache in our coffee community, Andrew. He’s been working at Quay for sometime and has a ton of experience in coffee and in bartending. Here at Quay we talked a little bit about how coffee is a seasonal product. At Quay they serve Oddly Correct, a local roaster in Kansas City, but they also serve other roasters from around the country. They wanted to take a few of the coffees and really play off the natural flavors in that coffee and create coffee mocktails based on the flavor. The drink that Andrew made for us is called the River Quayoto. It was a Kenya brewed on the Kyoto shaken with a ginger beer reduction and orange juice. It was a really refreshing drink. This drink and a few others will be added to a new seasonal drink menu that will include drinks like this.
Our next stop was at Little Freshie in the West Side. It has been around for about 2 years! Little Freshie started as a food truck called Fresher than Fresh serving snow cones with house made syrups and flavor combinations that are not normal. I followed this food truck every First Friday and would be so excited to see what the next new flavor would be. They knew that they wanted it to be more than just a food truck and wanted something that would appeal to people in the winter months as well. Coffee and soda bar was the perfect combination. They served us soft pretzels and snow cones with two different options. Strawberry Rhubarb and a Mexican Toddy. They were both so delicious. It was so hard to pick a favorite.
While we discussed which one was our favorite on the way to our next stop which was Christopher Elbow in the Crossroads. A local celebrity creating such beautiful and delicious chocolates. There we learned a little bit about Christopher Elbow himself as well as a little bit of the process of what it took to make them so beautiful. We were given a piece of chocolate with coffee and caramel in it. As well as the Aztec chocolate with different spices in it. We were even lucky enough to try some of their drinking chocolate. To our surprise we left with a bar of their orange cranberry bar.
Our next stop was at The Filing Station which has been around for about 10 years. There Tyler greeted us with a platter of these delicious peanut butter protein balls. Then on the inside we ere able to enjoy a shot espresso made with a blend from Broadway. I could not forget about the juice. We were given samples of the Liquid Sunshine. Absolutely one of my favorite juices that they serve at Filling Station. It has strawberry, orange, lemon, and carrots in it. I loved it so much, that I may or may not have had 3 cups of it… Hey we were the last stop they were going to waste, right.
Our second to last stop was at Crow’s Coffee. A brand new coffee shop just located just west of the UMKC campus. It is so new that it is not even finished with the construction on the inside. Zach and his crew still invited us in and informed us on the process of opening a shop. It was a fun experience to look around and take a look at the floor plan at what their space will look like. We were able to try their coffee brewed as drip coffee as well as espresso. They are going to use Messenger Coffee, which is a new roaster in Kansas City.
Our last stop brought us back to Crown Center at Shang Tea. There we learned about 3 different eras of tea. We learned that their was a boil era where they would just boil the teas. The second era was whipped teas, which is when they would grind the grind the teas to a powder and used a whisk and consumed the entire leaves. The current era is where we steep the teas in water. They showed us how to use a Gaiwan. Which is a little cup with a lid that you would use the lid to hold back the tea as you would drink the tea. We were even given an opportunity to use our Gaiwan skills, and it was a lot of fun.
Now it is time to grab some of the first Cheese Slippers of the season and get rest for Caffeine Crawl day 2.