Put down the Starbucks. Step away from the Caribou Coffee.
The Caffeine Crawl is back - a day of local and independent coffee shop pop-ins with beverage samples to whet your whistle, treats to soak up the excess stimulant and educational presentations on the coffee bean or technique at hand. It's Saturday at 10 java joints throughout Colorado Springs.
"There was so much happening in Colorado Springs," said Crawl founder Jason Burton about choosing the Springs as a Crawl location. "The coffee community is working well together."
Coffee lovers will buy a ticket for one of three routes. The 5- and 6½-mile routes have stops at five coffee shops. The 16-mile route will make six stops. Each stop will feature a beverage sample, about 2 to 3 ounces for an espresso-based drink or 3 to 6 ounces for regular coffee, plus a tasty treat, information and the chance to ask the barista or shop owners about their coffee-making process. Participants include Switchback Coffee Roasters, Loyal Coffee, Peak Place Cafe, Building3 Coffee Roasters and Mission Coffee Roasters.
"It's cool to hear people come together for coffee and tea and the interest in that, and people walking away from the experience saying, 'I'm going to go there every week now. That barista was really cool.' It's hard to get that experience at 7 or 8 in the morning on a Tuesday and there's five people in line," Burton said.
Each shop is responsible for its presentation and samples. Sometimes a Crawler will be taste-testing a seasonal item not yet on the menu, such as a cortado, a latte-type espresso drink or a cold brew with a fruit infusion. There could be a compare and contrast of hot coffees and samples of the increasingly popular pour-over coffee. Other shops might pair a baked good, such as a scone, with a particular coffee.
About 75 people attended the Springs Crawl last year. Burton said he believes the city can stand up to the other Crawls in the state, but he's admittedly a sucker for the underdog.
"We do a crawl in San Diego that's one of the best we do - it's well-attended, shops go all out," he said. "Denver gets tons of attention, and Boulder and Fort Collins. San Diego gets dwarfed by San Francisco and L.A., but there are amazing things happening there. I feel the same way about the Springs. There's such an eclectic, interesting spectrum of people that ended up there for multiple reasons, and that reflects in the food and beverage scene."