After producing over 70 self-guided tours of coffee roasters in cities nationwide, a Kansas City-based series of Caffeine Crawl events will make Ann Arbor its next stop.
The Ann Arbor Caffeine Crawl on Aug. 25 will aim to connect coffee connoisseurs with local roasters for a fun and educational experience. Jason Burton is the founder of The LAB, a Kansas City-based beverage marketing company that produces the Caffeine Crawl events. He says Ann Arbor and Detroit have both been on his radar for quite some time, but he didn't feel the time was right until this year.
"The craft coffee scene really only developed in Ann Arbor recently," he says. "Just five years ago, there were only two or three craft coffee places, and now Ann Arbor is closing in on 10 really exciting shops." Burton plans to add a Detroit stop next.
The lineup for the Ann Arbor Caffeine Crawl is: Black Diesel Coffee, Comet Coffee, Electric Eye Cafe, Literati Coffee, Mighty Good Coffee Roasting Co., RoosRoast Coffee, Stovetop Coffee Roasters, and sponsor Zingerman's Coffee Company.
Burton says he ran the idea of the crawl by an acquaintance at Zingerman's Coffee and the company "jumped at it." As top sponsor for the event, Zingerman's Coffee will have a breakfast sampling event at its location before the tours officially kick off.
The self-driving tours cover about six miles and include a stop at either five or six of the nine locations. Ticketholders will receive an event bag with promotional merchandise, admittance to all stops on the selected route, a drink sample, and a short, educational presentation at each stop.
"Each Caffeine Crawl is very different and really adopts the personality and culture of that area or region," Burton says. "I just finished one in Lincoln, Neb., and one place was offering cheese tea. I'd never even heard of that. I learn something on every caffeine crawl, and I've attended 70 of the 73 we've held."
Burton says the crawl organizers encourage each shop on the tour to showcase what it knows best.
"Some are stronger on methods of coffee preparation, some are stronger on sourcing, (and) some are into pairing pastries with coffee," Burton says. "We like the diversity and variety that all the shops bring."
Burton says an unexpected outcome of previous crawls is that the events get participants "out of their bubble" and encourage them to try a new coffee shop they may have heard of but never taken the time to visit. He also enjoys watching participants discovering overlapping interests and then becoming friends over the course of the crawl.
"We've had a couple that had their first date on a Caffeine Crawl come back and celebrate their one-year anniversary on the next year's crawl," Burton says. "I love that whole community aspect, where people interact who hadn't known each other prior to the event. That's what gets me excited about these events."
More information about the Ann Arbor Caffeine Crawl and tickets are available here.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zingerman's photo courtesy of Zingerman's. Mighty Good photo courtesy of Mighty Good.