A Recap of San Diego's Coffee-Crammed Caffeine Crawl

What the Hell is a Caffeine Crawl?

Well, it’s like a pub crawl, but instead of crawling to pubs, you crawl to coffee shops. And instead of getting beer drunk, you get coffee drunk. And instead of passing out by 7pm, you just might be up until 7am. It’s awesome. 

As luck would have it, San Diego has evolved into as much of a coffee city as it has a beer city.  And as I’ve written time and time again, everyone knows that if your city has beer drinkers, then it has coffee drinkers, too. There’s just something about the marriage of the two, coffee and beer. In San Diego, the two are almost as synonymous as peanut butter and jelly. Or a burger and fries. Or Jack and Coke.

Stay with me here.

Hold up. What? Coffee and beer do not go together. You do not wake up, toss on your fuzzy slippers, give thanks, then chug a coffee stout. You just don’t

Or do you? 

Well in San Diego, you kind of do. More than than anywhere else at least. And I’m here, in the digital flesh, to proclaim that 2017 will be the year of holy matrimony for coffee and beer in San Diego. Alongside of the beverage world’s best duos—like the gin and tonic, the jack and coke, the coffee and Kahlúa—you will find coffee and beer. From coffee shops at the beach, to breweries in the east, San Diego will witness the marriage of the two everywhere. They will clap, cry and maybe even dance a little. After all, San Diegans are mad proud of their beer. And it looks like they are more than happy to welcome coffee into the family, too. These two are going to do just fine. 

Now that you know how coffee can be a close second to beer in San Diego, I’m sure you can understand the appeal of a Caffeine Crawl in this city. The question now is, do you, wherever in the world you're reading from, understand the appeal?

Maybe beer hasn’t paved the way for coffee in your city. And maybe those in your city that would be interested in a caffeine crawl are not beer fanatics like in San Diego. And that’s okay, because beer doesn’t have to be a requirement.

All you have to do is read this post, get pumped, buy tickets, then tell all your caf-feen friends. 

So, in the case of San Diego’s Caffeine Crawl last week—organized by food and beverage events company, The Lab—this is how it all went down. 

How Much Does it Cost?

At approximately $25 p/ticket, you’ll get admission to the crawl, access to a local guide with an abundant amount of local coffee knowledge (like myself), unlimited coffee/drink samples at your participating stops, and a swag bag full of all kinds of coffee goodies. You can buy your tickets directly through Caffeine Crawl, or by clicking here. Unfortunately, San Diego’s crawl has already passed, and you’ll have to catch them in Houston February 17-18

What Are the Routes?

There are usually at least four routes over a 2-3 day span, usually on weekends. On each route, you can expect to visit anywhere from 4-6 different coffee shops, or coffee related local businesses. This year, the two most non-traditional coffee shops that I visited were Banana Dang in Oceanside, and Sleeping Tiger Coffees in Carlsbad. Banana Dang is actually a smoothie shop originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, that has since become famous for its “dirty” banana smoothie, where they spike it with an espresso shot (with local coffee of course). Sleeping Tiger is coffee shop inside of Witchcreek Winery.

How Much Caffeine Do You Actually Drink?

First off. Eat food, you will need it. Expect to drink at least three cups of coffee over the span of the crawl, which is often no more than 3-4 hours. Key words here are “at least.” Again, I present a beer reference. If someone is offered unlimited samples of beer, to put it simply, they ain’t gonna turn ‘em down. Plain and simple. So when those samples turn into a rare single-origin coffee, or a new cold brew on nitro offering, or an out-of-this-world house made cold brew horchata slushy, you will oblige. 

And if you’re anything like me and always manage to lose count of your coffees after two cups, I’d err on the side of caution and definitely eat something. And don’t tell me San Diego doesn’t have options. They’ve got plenty. From the country’s best breakfast burritos, to an excessive amount of brunch spots littered throughout the city, there’s no excuse. If anything, it’s an excuse to drink more coffee to counter those all eggy carbs. 

And that you will do, drink coffee! Sometimes, you’ll have a shop offer you samples off their food menu, like Banana Dang offering us Puerto Rican sandwiches, breads and cheeses. But most of the time, you’ll be offered the shops weirdest, tastiest caffeinated beverages. Modern Times’ new café offered us a dairy-free cold brew latte, while Succulent Café offered us dirty chai lattes. At Sleeping Tiger, they paired wine with chocolate and coffee, both of which were of the Colombian single-origin variety. And at Steady State Roasting Co., a new micro-roaster out of Carlsbad, we tasted coffee that was roasted at different drop temps.  

What Else Happens on a Caffeine Crawl?

On top of those samples, you’ll also get a good schooling in an array of coffee-related material. At Revolution Roasters, also in Carlsbad, we learned and tasted coffees brewed with different water: tap, filter and reverse osmosis. At Cafe Virtuoso, an all-organic, fair trade roaster, they led a demonstration on how brewed coffee tastes at various roast temps. If you’ve read my posts before, you’d know that I eat this hands-on educational stuff right up. And the Caffeine Crawl is perfect for those who like myself, love to learn about coffee.

Anything Else? 

Not really. But now that you know that a caffeine crawl is a lot like a pub crawl, you have no reason not to give it a try. If you don’t want to get excited listening to passionate, innovative coffee geeks talking about their shop’s next best thing, that’s cool. If you don’t want to get weird and taste things like a dairy-free latte, also cool. But if you’re not on board with trying a house made cold brew horchata slushy, then you’re just nuts. And you probably would have stopped reading this post by now. But for those still reading, now you know. So get out there, drink a lot of coffee, and get caffeine wasted already. 

To purchase tickets for the next Caffeine Crawl in Houston, TX, or for more info on the coffee shops that have participated, click here