You may not have heard of the Caffeine Crawl. That’s about to change.
The LAB, a Kansas City-based marketing firm, is hosting a Caffeine Crawl in Oklahoma City this Saturday, February 16, starting at 11 AM. These six shops are participating:
Participants make a circuit of these six shops and end the day at Cafe Evoke for an after party. Check out the Oklahoma City Crawl page to see presentation topics and more detailed information.
The LAB’s Kent Baker and I chatted the other day about the origins and challenges of the Caffeine Crawl, as well as their experience working with OKC. Here is the interview. For those of you attending, happy crawling!
What gave you guys the idea for the Caffeine Crawl?
Jason [Burton, the founder of the company] came up with the idea and started it in September 2011. He’s been in this industry since 2005.
One of the things he noticed was that most of the people who go to coffee industry events are coffee people. At alcohol events, it was the public. He wanted a niche where you could bring the public to coffee events, and went with the pub crawl concept. That’s how the Caffeine Crawl was born.
What’s the purpose behind the Caffeine Crawl?
Education is a big thing. A lot of people don’t know how the coffee gets to their cup. Each one of the stops will put on a presentation — it can be about anything. We want the crawler to experience shops they haven’t been to, different brew methods, and more of what goes on in the world of coffee.
We also thought we could build the Caffeine Crawl and The LAB around the country. We’re getting our name out there and the industry gets to know us.
What are some of the challenges of the event?
On our end, trying to get hold of all the shops, make sure they have what they’ll talk about and everything they need. By the time you do ten different cities, there’s always something that needs to be done.
Keeping things running in a timely manner is one of the biggest things we have to deal with. We allow fifteen to twenty minutes for the shop to do their presentation, then let the crawlers get their drink. For a lot of clients, it’s their first time here. We want them to absorb the ambience of the shop, but stay on schedule. We have three to four different routes going. At some point they’re going to intersect. If you’re 5 minutes late, 10 minutes late, it snowballs.
One thing that’s never hard is dealing with the shops. They’re more than willing to help, and Oklahoma City’s been awesome so far. We’ve noticed that the shops that are involved, they love it. You’re always in a rush when a thousand people come through your door every day. Here they get to take a little time and teach them, say, “What’s going on, what are you drinking?” Oklahoma City is one of the best cities we’ve worked with. They’re all super stoked for the whole thing.
Why did you want to bring the Crawl to Oklahoma City?
Because surprisingly enough, Oklahoma City, including Edmond and Norman, has a really big coffee presence.
One of the things we as the Lab like to do is go to second-tier cities with smaller population. The concept and atmosphere seem to work better. You guys have a great coffee scene, and that’s what we want to bring out to other Oklahomans and other people around the country. The Midwest is becoming very big in coffee, and Oklahoma’s roasters are really good.
There are several coffee shops in the greater OKC area not involved in the Caffeine Crawl. How did you select the six stops?
One of us (Jason or myself) goes to the city beforehand and does a research trip. We hit eight, ten, twelve shops in the area to try them out. We talk to the owners, tell them about what we’re doing, and ask, “are you interested?” It’s usually a size issue for the ones that aren’t. Location and reputation are two factors that weigh in, as well.
We keep the size at six to eight shops, so it’s kind of a first come, first serve. [Within that] we try to have one or two roasters that have shops, one alternative like a tea, and one that’s a nonbeverage specialty, like Cuppies.
I saw that St. Louis is the next stop for the Caffeine Crawl. What other cities are coming up? Do you think you’ll return to OKC?
St. Louis, Boston, Minneapolis, Denver, Omaha, KC, and San Francisco, in that order.
As of right now, we will definitely be back to Oklahoma City either next year or the year after. Everyone’s been above and beyond in getting things set up — super pumped and motivated. We’re a week away [at the time of the interview -- Ed.] and already sold out.
Anything you want to say to the people on the crawl?
Ask questions — there are no dumb questions. The shops that are there want you to learn about coffee. They want you to be aware of what’s happening.
Drink plenty of water. Bring some snacks, maybe. And get ready to have a lot of fun.