Tag Archives: coffee

kansas city caffeine crawl recap.

last weekend you may have seen our combined 1 million instagrams (sorry) from our trip to kansas city for the caffeine crawl. the caffeine crawl is basically organized bar-hopping…but with coffee, tea, and chocolate shops instead. the concept started in kansas city and has since expanded to cities all over the country. we jumped at the chance to go on this spring’s kansas city crawl, though, for an opportunity to check out a few lesser known and up-and-coming places that we hadn’t had a chance to visit before. read on for a few photos and short recap from each place we visited…


the filling station | 2980 mcgee trafficway

our first stop and where we met up with the rest of our group was at the filling station, so called because the building it’s in is a garage! we’ve been wanting to go here for awhile, so we made sure to choose a route that had this on it. they serve coffee here from some kansas city faves – oddly correct and broadway roasting – but for the crawl, they actually gave each of us a glass of one of their fresh-pressed juices, the “liquid sunshine” (carrot + strawberry + orange + lemon + apple). the juice was delicious, and a great way to start out a day otherwise full of caffeinated things. we got our goodie bags, met our tour guide, michael, heard a short presentation from one of the filling station staff, and were on our way to the second stop…


crows coffee | 304 east 51st street

crows coffee, as you can see from the photos, is not quite open yet, but will be a great addition to the kansas city coffee scene once it does. the owner left his job in the corporate world to pursue his dream of creating community through coffee and the physical space of a coffee shop. we got a little tour of what the layout will look like once it’s complete, and it sounds awesome – lots of big tables and spaces to bring customers together and foster community. we also got to drink the shop’s first cups of coffee and espresso shots, provided by messenger roasting. we really enjoyed seeing crows in-process and look forward to checking it out again once they’re open.


shang tea | 2450 grand blvd. #106

our third stop was shang tea, located inside crown center. neither kevin nor i are big tea drinkers, but we really enjoyed hearing about how the shop’s owner travels twice a year to china to oversee and even help with harvesting and preparing the teas that are sold in his shop. we tried a few different teas here, but my favorite was definitely the tangerine blossom, which we were told is quite rare and therefore fairly unique to shang. in addition to having various size bags of all of their teas available for purchase, the shop also had tons of adorable tea sets, mugs, kettles and more.


little freshie | 811 west 17th street

the fourth stop on the crawl was little freshie, one of two places on the tour that kevin and i had been to before. little freshie started out as a sno-cone food truck a few years ago, and has now expanded to a brick & mortar location with a full espresso bar, sandwiches, and of course, handcrafted snow cones and italian sodas with house-made syrups. lindsey, the owner, made each of us mexican toddy (iced coffee with spices) and strawberry rhubarb mini snow cones to order, and while both flavors were delicious, the strawberry rhubarb was definitely my favorite. we were back in the neighborhood later that evening, and tried their prickly pear flavor, too, which i’d also recommend.


quay coffee | 412 delaware street

quay is the other place that we’d been to before the crawl, and it’s one of our favorite coffee shops in kansas city (which is saying something – there are a lot of good ones). quay, like the filling station, also serves coffee from oddly correct, plus a rotating line-up of other craft roasters. we were supposed to listen to their presentation outside, but due to an impending torrential downpour, we moved to a back room, where two of their baristas made us two coffee mocktails – one a soda brewed with coffee on the kyoto, and the other a twist on a “flip” cocktail with egg white. at this point we were kind of wishing they weren’t mocktails after all the traffic and weather-related drama the morning had brought, but they were both delicious nonetheless and i hear both drinks will be on quay’s summer menu, due out soon.


christopher elbow chocolates | 1819 mcgee street

our last stop was christopher elbow chocolates, a gourmet chocolate shop that we hadn’t been to but knew about from their collaboration with boulevard brewing on chocolate ale. we got to taste a couple of chocolates, including a coffee caramel made specifically for the caffeine crawl. we also got to sample some of their liquid chocolate, which was basically really really chocolately and rich hot chocolate – so good. we learned a little bit about the chocolate making process (like how they get those cool designs on the tops of each piece), and even got to peek at some of the chocolatiers hard at work in the attached factory. a very neat place!

we had such a great time on the kansas city caffeine crawl, and are looking forward to visiting many of these places on our next trip there. for a list of upcoming caffeine crawls in other cities, and to see shops and cities they’ve visited before, visit their website

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the coffeehouse series: the hub coffee & bicycles / springfield, mo.

we spent our thanksgiving this year in springfield, missouri, where my sister- and brother-in-law (and best niece ever) live. in our past stays in springfield, we haven’t done much exploring around town, but we’d read about a couple of great coffee spots in town and figured we’d check them out during this visit. first up is the hub coffee & bicycles, which as you might guess, is half coffee shop, half bike shop. we have a similar spot in omaha – omaha bicycle co. – that we love, so we figured the hub would be worth a visit.

i took a look at their coffee menu before our trip and was really excited to see that they make cortados. a cortado is espresso and milk, usually with a 1:1 – 1:2 ratio – somewhere between a macchiato and a cappuccino. i haven’t seen these on too many menus, and have read that they’re gaining popularity in certain coffee scenes but have never tried one myself. at a shop like this, i’d usually order a cappuccino, but since this was a rare find, we went with the cortados.

our cortados came served in coupe glasses, which was unique in and of itself. the drinks were unsurprisingly very delicious. i forgot to ask what espresso they were using that day, but their website says they use intelligentsia, madcap, handsome, and populace, all very reputable roasters, and i think it’s cool that they carry several. we didn’t try their brewed coffee during this visit, but they did have some manual brew methods on their menu that i’m sure would be wonderful choices.

i just love the idea of coffee shops that are coffee shops plus something else, so we really enjoyed our visit here. i don’t know much about bikes, but our brief wander through the bike part of the shop led me to believe that they do everything from bike repairs to sales of both bikes and accessories, and appeared to carry some neat brands. the whole shop is super bright and airy, with plenty of space and seating for staying awhile. if you live in springfield or happen to find yourself there sometime and are in need of some good coffee, i would definitely recommend the hub!

to visit:
the hub coffee & bicycles
811 north boonville | springfield, mo 65802

If you’re interested in guest posting about a favorite coffee (or tea) spot in your own city, please get in touch: hollyannefricke@gmail.com.

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the coffeehouse series: cafe voce / shanghai

I’m so happy to finally be kicking off the coffeehouse series that I wrote about awhile back, and even more happy that the first post in the series comes from my bff Ruth & her husband David. R & D are currently living in Shanghai, China, where Ruth is teaching and pursuing her Master’s degree. Ruth and I have bonded over many a coffee date throughout our friendship, and even though this year we’ve been especially far apart, the next best thing is following along with her and Dave’s adventures via her beautifully-written blog, no.17,  and of course, instagram. Here, Ruth shares about a favorite neighborhood spot in the Former French Concession, Cafe Voce…

How did you first discover the shop?
One of the first things that Dave and I did when we moved into our studio in the Former French Concession was take a walk around the area. This was the first coffee shop that we walked past, and we decided to go there the next day for brunch. We sat in front of the window and people-watched, and from that vantage-point, it felt like we weren’t really in China.

What’s your favorite drink to order there?

Voce has a toasted almond latte on their drink menu, and that’s what I’ve ordered since the first time I went there. I’m obsessed with all things almond, and that latte has just the right amount of extra flavor and sweetness. They have a weekday afternoon tea special (as many places in Shanghai do), and my favorite combination is the almond latte with mini lemon mousse tarts – perfect for a midweek pick-me-up.

Can you share something unique or special about the shop?

The first time (out of many, as we later discovered) that our power and internet went out, I had a paper due. It was past 8pm, and I still needed wi-fi. I threw my laptop in my backpack, and Dave and I rushed over to Voce, hoping that there were still open and that they had internet. I was so relieved to find out that Voce stays open until 11 pm on most days and had free wi-fi. I submitted my paper and then we chatted on Skype with my parents. Since then, Voce has been our go-to hangout when we need someplace nearby to work.

Many thanks to Ruth & David for sharing one of their favorite Shanghai spots. If you’re interested in guest posting about a favorite coffee (or tea) spot in your own city, please get in touch: hollyannefricke@gmail.com.

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how to have good coffee while you travel.

ok, so, if you’ve been reading our blog for awhile or know us personally, you probably know that over the past year-ish, we’ve sort of become coffee snobs. no, we haven’t forever sworn off starbuck’s (hello, morning buns), but we did ditch our drip coffee maker several months ago and do prefer to make coffee with manual brewing methods or visit local coffee shops that offer them on their menu.

aside from really appreciating good coffee, we also really appreciate – and genuinely enjoy – the process of making it each morning, manually. yeah, it does take time, but it’s become somewhat of a ritual, a way to wake up even before the actual caffeine hits. we also like collecting coffee gadgets.

add all of that up and enter: the travel coffee setup. when we head to california later this week, we’ll be fully equipped to make ourselves (and my momma!) great coffee every morning. we’ve had the brewer itself (in this case, the aeropress) for quite a while, but over the last month we’ve picked up the remaining pieces for this setup and are excited to finally present them here!

01. aerobie aeropress coffee maker – the aeropress is perfect for travel. it’s super lightweight, made of plastic so you can throw it in your bag and not risk breakage, and make a perfect individual serving size of almost espresso-like coffee.

02. porlex mini hand grinder – the grinder is what i feel like makes this travel setup especially legit. yeah, you could pre-grind your coffee at home, or buy pre-ground when you get there, but freshly grinding your coffee right before brewing it is just the best way. plus, it’s adorable, very well designed, and even fits inside the aeropress for space-saving!

03. aws-600 pocket size scale – for measuring your freshly ground coffee and, if you want to, the water (although you’re basically just filling up the chamber). there are a whole bunch of different versions of this pocket scale online, and they’re all very affordable.

04. disk coffee filter – the standard aeropress filters are disposable paper ones, and they work just fine, but the (reusable) disk is much more sustainable for long-term use, and produces a cleaner, more full-bodied cup. able brewing, the company that manufacturers them, have fantastic customer service, tons of neat products in their online store, and even hand-address all their shipments.  

05. good coffee, obviously! if you’re traveling somewhere you can get specialty coffee, i recommend purchasing some once you’re there and maybe having a mini coffeecation while you’re at it. but if you do bring your own, you’ll want about 18g per person/per day of travel when using the aeropress.

06. your favorite travel mug! we just got a couple of keep cups – pictured below – you can ‘create your own cup’ on their website in about a million color combinations or order a few different styles on amazon. we really like them because they’re super lightweight and not breakable: perfect for travel.

if you’re like uhhh wtf is an aeropress or you’ve heard about it and are just looking for a good method for using it, we really like this video/tutorial from verve coffee.

hope we have inspired you to create a travel coffee setup of your own!
p.s. any recommendations for coffee shops / roasters to check out in the los angeles/orange county/inland empire area?

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