Coffee Crawl Will Show Off Tucson’s Emerging Coffee Culture

November 1, 2012

By Teya Vitu

Coffee. We all drink it. But how many of us really know anything at all about coffee? Fluency with a Starbucks menu does not count.

Laura Adams had the inspiration to stage a Coffee Crawl to give people a chance to learn about the art of coffee.

Good news, these days you can become a coffee connoisseur as much as many have embraced varietal wines in the past decade.

And there’s no better way to brush up your coffee savoir-faire than to join in with the first Tucson Coffee Crawl on Nov. 10. Seven coffee shops that make an art of coffee preparation – all but two in the Downtown area – will offer cuppings (tasting sessions), coffee preparation tips, and coffee education.

The Coffee Crawl is free but participants are asked to leave $1 for each café’s cupping session. The Crawl goes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. but make sure to check the schedule for each café.

Sparkroot, EXO Roast Co., Caffe Lucé, Cartel Coffee Lab, Raging Sage Coffee Roasters, Yellow Brick Coffee and Adventure Coffee Roasting all signed on for Coffee Crawl organizer Laura Adams’ coffee experiment.

Coffee crawlers are asked to RSVP here at so that Adams and the coffee shops can have some idea how many people to expect.

“The shops that are participating treat coffee as a craft,” said Adams, owner of Storyteller PR and an admitted coffee amateur. “There’s a reason behind everything they do. There’s a reason they grind the coffee the way they do. There’s a reason they roast the coffee they way they do. They are trying to extract the most flavor possible.”

Adams has a one-woman public relations operation. Translation: often enough her “office” is one of these coffee shops.

“I’d go to these shops and overhear people talking about coffee. I don’t have the coffee education and I wanted it,” Adams said. “Everybody drinks coffee. Yet not everybody has tasted coffee. Myself included. Not everybody has tasted the complexities that exist in coffee. There’s just so much more to be enjoyed there.”

Adams noted Sparkroot opened in summer 2011 and EXO opened earlier this year.

“I thought it would be unique to showcase these shops,” she said.

Adams researched coffee crawls and communicated with similar event organizers in St. Louis and San Francisco.

“What I learned was I wanted to be different. They just had a meet-up of people,” she said. “What I wanted to do was host classes and scheduled cuppings. I wanted to get people excited about coffee. I think a lot of people are intimidated by the coffee geeks. I would hope that this event breaks down those barriers.”

She couldn’t have found two coffee hounds more in tune with her vision than Sparkroot owner Ari Shapiro and EXO barista Noel Trapp, who would rather be referred to as EXO’s director of education.

“I was excited,” Trapp said about when Adams approached him with her Coffee Crawl idea. “Tucson needs it, and Tucson is ready for it. There’s enough good coffee and good people.”

Noel Trapp at EXO Roast Co. takes extrordinary measures to prepare a cup of coffee.

EXO, 403 N. 6th Ave., will offer a cupping with coffees from several parts of the world; put on a comparative analysis with the same coffee prepared in different ways; and offer a roasting and sourcing lecture.

Sparkroot serves specialty Blue Bottle Coffee roasted in Oakland, Calif. Coffee education is part of the daily routine at Sparkroot. Shapiro embraced Adams’ notion to make a public event of it.

“I thought it was really novel and inspired,” Shapiro said. “We’re doing a really good job telling that story. Everybody in the organization knows the Blue Bottle story. This offers us an opportunity to tell the story in even greater detail to an interested audience.”

Like anything else we eat or drink, you can toss grounds into a coffee maker or you can grind, measure and do a pour over yourself. Coffee making can be quite the ritual – but Shapiro insists Coffee Crawl will be fun.

“We want to take an interested audience and geek out about this stuff,” Shapiro said.

“I doubt when you’re executing at home that you’re measuring the bean to the gram or counting the seconds that the espresso shot pulls. Like all great art, there is a certain precision to making coffee. You’re getting more complexities and richer and deeper flavors.”

There is a timed schedule for each café. Each session last about 1 hour 15 minutes. One can map out a game plan in 90-minute cycles.

Sparkroot, 245 E. Congress St.

10:15 a.m. Home Brewing Class: a hands-on look at how to brew coffee using the pour-over method

11:45 a.m. Blue Bottle 101: Sparkroot is the only coffee shop outside San Francisco and New York Citu that serves and sells Blue Bottle Coffee. Listen to baristas chat about what makes Blue Bottle’s beans special.

1 p.m. Cupping: taste and compare Blue Bottle’s different roasts

Yellow Brick Coffee (serving at @ 47 Scott restaurant)

11:30 a.m. Cupping: taste and compare Yellow Brick’s different roasts

1 p.m. Cupping: taste and compare Yellow Brick’s different roasts

3 p.m. Cupping: taste and compare Yellow Brick’s different roasts

EXO Roast Co., 403 N. 6th Ave.

10 a.m.: Comparative extraction analysis between two metal filtration systems, the French press and the Synesso, using the same single origin coffee.

1 p.m. Cupping: Terra Coffee cupping; comparative taste analysis of grade 1 Arabica Typica coffees of similar roast profiles from three continents.

2:15 p.m. Lecture: Ethical sourcing of EXO’s bean portfolio: roasting to accurately represent the high quality green coffees.

Caffe Lucé, 943 E. University


Adventure Coffee Roasting (serving at Brewd, 39 N. 6th Ave.)

9 a.m. Home Coffee Roasting: an interactive session using a vintage hot-air popcorn popper to roast small batches of coffee

10:45 a.m. Aeropress demo: learn how to use the Aeropress to brew an awesome cup of coffee at home

12:45 p.m. Cold Brewed Coffee demo: learn the secret to making perfect cold brewed coffee.  Samples provided!

Cartel Coffee Lab, 2516 N. Campbell Ave.

9 a.m. Cupping: taste and compare Cartel’s different roasts

10:30 a.m. Home Brewing Class: a hands-on look at how to brew Cartel’s coffee in your own home

1 p.m. Comparative Tasting: In this class, you’ll take one kind of bean and brew it several different ways to taste how different brewing methods effect the coffee.

Raging Sage Coffee Roasters, 2458 N. Campbell Ave.

9 a.m. Constant coffee sampling.