Oh, pub crawl, we'll always love you. But there's a perky new kid making the rounds of coffee shops in several Midwest cities.

By Danny Lee
August 15, 2017
Photo courtesy of Tinker Coffee Company.
Photo courtesy of Tinker Coffee Company.

It's like a pilgrimage for java lovers. And in a twist on the usual tour de bars, every stop in The Lab 5702's Caffeine Crawl provides a perk-me-up for the next leg of the journey.

The Kansas City-based company offers its tours in six Midwestern cities, including Indianapolis, Madison and Milwaukee. Each tour stops at five or six independently owned shops. Groups travel by private car, by bicycle or on foot, meeting at each location on their selected tour for tastings, lessons and demonstrations.

In Indianapolis, B.J. Davis and Andy Gilman welcome guests to their bustling Bee Coffee Roasters on the south edge of downtown. They pour steaming samples while B.J. passes around photos and shares stories from her trip to coffee plantations in Guatemala.

At the more bohemian Rabble Coffee on the near-east side, co-owner Josie Hunckler shows off full bookshelves and describes after-hours classes-from yoga to resume writing-offered here by a local trade school with a barter-for-knowledge system. "Using a coffeehouse as a place of learning pays homage to the original purpose of coffeehouses," she says.

In the Herron-Morton Place Historic District, Tinker Coffee Company owner Jeff Johnson offers samples of the same coffee brewed different ways while guests vie over bragging rights for picking up on the nuances.

Photo courtesy of Tinker Coffee Company.
Photo courtesy of Tinker Coffee Company.

As with a pub crawl, the caffeine crawl experience is best enjoyed with pacing-in this case, you're just managing a different type of buzz. And really, there's no rush. With the variety of neighborhoods, coffeehouse vibes, tasting samples and people, it's an experience you can repeat yearly with fresh results every time (caffeinecrawl.com).