Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2014

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 67 of 87

"A cafE reflects its neighborhood-that microcosm of individuals. And baristas are great ambassadors for the place." Kent Baker, The LAB/Caffeine Crawl three years before. In my first week back, I rediscovered a familiar place and lined up several sweet reunions, but when I later arrived in London, I was alone; we're talking Airbnb alone. But having seen the Frick, Big Ben, and Oxford Circus on a previous trip, my goal for these four days in London was to stay east and explore the 'hoods of Hackney, Hoxton, and Shoreditch by café. London's coffee culture rewarded my one-track mind, and I faced no shortage: clothing-store espresso counters (Jaguar Shoes and Present), "creative coffee consultancy" Dunne Frankowski's Protein, tiny shoeboxes like 46b Espresso Hut in off-the-grid communities and institutions like Broadway Market's Climpson & Sons, or Department of Coffee and Social Affairs on Leather Lane. When I would get to that shaky peak where no carbs could sponge my caffeine and I was at my limit, I would ask myself, "Why cafés?" I knew it wasn't always about the coffee but, in the words of Mumford & Sons, "the welcome I received with every start." In a café, I was alone but not lonely—all of a sudden grounded. I knew the places in London where I would find my people, each shop its own but with the same familiar aroma and sounds of clicking dosers, clinking cup to saucer. The strangers making my pourovers became my guides to London, friends enough for the moment. In Asheville, Evans experienced this, too. He saw the city through the eyes of the coffee-bus barista and her friend, a regular, who joined the conversation. "I got to know the city better," he said, "And I made two new friends who welcomed me with open arms to a strange new place." THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT During my time in London, I was told to meet a friend of a friend "because you both like coffee," she said. That was enough reason for me, and I've been friends with Londoner Derek Lamberton, founder of Blue Crow Media, ever since. Lamberton created a digital travel guide to London cafés, the London's Best Coffee app, inspired by a coffee map made for the 2010 World Barista Championship. The following year, Apple named his tool one of the "Best Lifestyle Apps of 2011" and soon thereafter, he produced a New York version (New York's Best Coffee) as well as hard copies of the apps in fold-out maps and large-scale posters. Still baffled by the popularity of chains and just general bad 68 barista magazine taste, Derek hopes that if people know where to find quality coffee, they'll begin to develop an appreciation for it. This coffee cartographer practices what he preaches. When traveling, he maps out cafés to visit in order to find the culture beyond them. "If you find an area in any city with a concentrated number of independent specialty-coffee shops, you know that there will be good things happening there," Derek says. He recalled a visit to Hong Kong's Knockbox Coffee Company, a tiny shop on the quiet Tai Ping Shan Street lined with other cafés, snack bars, and an outpost of local design collective Start From Zero. Up next for Blue Crow Media: more coffee map posters of various cities and a Coffee Challenge quiz app. See for more. HEED THE CRAWL The LAB, a Kansas City, Mo.–based specialty-beverage marketing team and one of the frontrunners of the "crawl" concept, launched Caffeine Crawl in 2011. Their events spotlight coffee, tea, chocolate, and soda cultures in cities nationwide by offering hands-on experiences during a tour of shops. Caffeine Crawl typically comes to cities with small-but-mighty coffee scenes like Houston, San Diego, or Oklahoma City, and while participants (100–300 people!) are mostly locals, 10 to 20 percent may travel two hours or more for crawls. Founder Jason Burton said the idea first came after a long conversation with a bartender made him wonder why he couldn't have that same drawn-out interaction with his barista. "We want to break down the barrier between coffee shop employees and the consumer, and connect the two," he said. Each participating shop on a Caffeine Crawl creates a presentation for "crawlers" on anything from cuppings and pairings to more inventive ideas like bourbon toddy latte tastings. For most cities, multiple routes are available to choose from, some interweaving coffee and chocolate or tea, with about five to six locations per route. (Kansas City and Denver crawls have a bike route.) So for a team who travels via cafés for a living, why do they do it? "Coffeehouses show different communities and subcultures within a city," said LAB team member and Barista Magazine contributor Emily McIntyre, comparing a cyclist bar with a grittier, more baristacentric café. Fellow LAB staffer Kent Baker added, "A café reflects its

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