I’m a bit late in writing about this but I couldn’t just not talk about it…
So last week, I participated in the Caffeine Crawl in San Francisco. I happened to have the day off as I was going to go out of town but those plans got canceled. I still kept the days off though and when I heard about this event through Blue Bottle’s Facebook page, there really was no question about whether or not I should go. [This entire disclaimer has been written up in case y’all thought I just didn’t show up to work that day, with a call in to my manager with fake sniffles.]
This was the first time the organization had staged a caffeine crawl in San Francisco. The premise was that one would go to different coffee or chocolate places in the city, spending a bit of time in each one. The participating shops would then conduct some sort of presentation for those on the crawl. There were different routes that one could take. I ended up going on the route that went to Blossom Coffee, Blue Bottle in the Heath Ceramics building, Dandelion Chocolate, Stanza Coffee, Christopher Elbow Chocolates, and Ma’velous.
It was the perfect way to spend a day off. Besides the fact that I had an excuse to hit up more than one cafe in a day, I got to visit ones I had never been to. For example, even though I have been to a few Blue Bottle cafes, I never visited the one in the Heath Ceramics building before in the Mission and it was different from all of the others, with decor and layout catered to its surroundings. I had single origin iced coffee as well as their New Orleans iced coffee, which uses a bit of milk. It was there that I learned about the merits of using milk from brown cows, also known as Jersey cows. I never even knew that there was a difference but man oh man, when I tasted the milk in the New Orleans Iced Coffee, which had come from St. Benoit farms, I had to ask for more.
At Dandelion, I was educated about how chocolate ends up going from bean to bar. I hadn’t realized how similar it was to coffee in the sense that chocolate beans from different regions have distinct flavors that may not be present in beans from other regions. At Dandelion, they even use a modified coffee bean roasting machine to roast the chocolate beans.
Stanza Coffee had a coffee cupping for those on the crawl, with the barista going over coffees from different regions as he explained the steps to conducting a proper cupping. One interesting detail that he told a few others and me about ‘slurping’ the coffee during a cupping was that it was better to do so when the coffee cooled slightly- you can’t properly register the flavor notes as one automatically goes into ‘fight’ mode if they were to slurp something too hot.
At Christopher Elbow Chocolates, the owner picked out coffee from local roasteries and used it in coffee-infused ganache. Those chocolates were created specifically for the Caffeine Crawl event and looked almost too good to eat. Almost. I did eat them. I had to as they beckoned to me. They were delectable, with neither the coffee or the chocolate overpowering the other.
At Ma’velous, I relaxed at the counter as it was the last stop and so I didn’t rush through the coffee that the barista made me. He poured me some more when I was done with my first cup and then I got to experience another coffee cupping, set up just for me.
In the end, I had gone to six different places in a span of about 4.5 hours. Not bad!
This event could have been just a “nice” event but what propelled it to an awesome one were the people. From the organizers, to the baristas, to those who worked at the chocolate shops, everyone turned out to be these genuinely cool people who loved what they did. It defintely showed in the way they all interacted with me to present the coffee or the chocolate.
This is something I would definitely participate in again. If anything, considering the sheer number of great cafes in San Francisco, I should at least make the effort to go around and visit more of them on my own. I hear Contraband Cafe has Flat Whites so I need to make my way there just to try that out.
I’m definitely glad I was able to take advantage of the Caffeine Crawl! Looking forward to continue my coffee outings in the Bay :)
Side Note: I had breakfast at Blue Bottle’s Mint Plaza location in the morning before heading over to the crawl. There were literally 30 people in line in front of me. I thought maybe it was a regular weekday morning line until I realized that the line consisted of people attending Apple’s WWDC conference at Moscone Center. How did I figure it out? Well, the line of almost exclusively men reminded me of this picture of the men’s restroom line taken by CNET editor Dan Ackerman last week at WWDC:
Also, some people were wearing their WWDC badge or jacket. That helped me figure it out too…*cough*