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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Love Coffee? San Diego's Caffeine Crawl Is This Weekend

 January 23, 2020 at 7:53 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 You may have noticed that midday edition is starting earlier in order for KPBS to broadcast the impeachment trial in Washington without interruptions and for the mid day team and earlier start time means an earlier work day, which means a great need for more coffee. It turns out we are in luck because the seventh annual caffeine crawl gets underway in San Diego tomorrow. It couldn't come at a better time. Joining me in studio is Thomas Ryan, owner of Ryan brothers coffee in Barrio Logan and Tom, welcome to the program. Thank you Maureen. And on Skype we're joined by Jason Burton, owner of the lab, which organizes caffeine, crawls across the country. And Jason, welcome to the program. Thanks so much. Now Jason, can you give us an overview of what the caffeine crawl is? Absolutely. So a lot of people are familiar with bear crawls or wine walks and coffee really didn't have anything like this. Speaker 1: 00:59 And even just beer festivals or cocktail competitions, you would see a lot of consumers at those events. Coffee events attract, um, mostly industry folks, which is great and we love that. But a lot of the shops, I mean we all depend on our customers and our consumers. So caffeine crawl attracts both consumers and industry professionals, but it also bridges the gap on a tour throughout the city with multiple different routes. Um, experiencing what that coffee shop or coffee shop slash roasting company does behind the scenes. And I'm giving them a taste of not just the educational component of it and all the topics fairy, but also just educating and pleasing their pallets. And on any of these particular routes that you can choose from, about how many coffee shops do you visit? Uh, on a given route, there's generally five stops per route and there are even a couple of chocolate shops included in the San Diego crawl, isn't that right? Absolutely, yes. We also incorporate a really a revolves around coffee culture, but tea shops and chocolate shops, uh, again with the focus of craft or specialty and local are all invited to be a part of the caffeine crawl. Now, Tom, I understand Ryan brothers has been part of these crawls since 2016. What do people learn about your coffee business when they visit? Speaker 2: 02:26 You know, for us it's an opportunity, one to reach the enthusiast people that just really enjoy coffee and the culture of a coffee house. So in our particular case we have a retail wholesale facility, so they get to come into a real cool retail cafe and in the back of the houses where our production is. So they kind of get to see both ends of the business. They get a good tasting and they get an opportunity to be introduced to a lot of innovations that we have developed that are quite different than most of our competition. Speaker 1: 02:54 Right. One I understand that one of the things that makes Ryan brothers coffee unique is that it uses that was inspired by breweries and only they use that equipment to make coffee. Talk to me about that. Speaker 2: 03:05 Yeah. For us, you know, obviously there's been a very large trend for cold brew products. Cold brew coffees have become very, very popular with the public. So we made the move a couple of years ago to be brewing coffee kegging coffee, serving it on draft systems. Just like you would beer. Um, and so we've really moved into that direction and it really has allowed us to take the product back and craft a finished product. Um, this is something different for the coffee industry. Typically we sell commodities, we sell coffee, tea, chocolates, powders, mixes and try to teach people to make drinks. Uh, this is an opportunity to take those ingredients back and put them in the hands of the master roaster in the master brewer, uh, where we can really craft a finished product that allows, you know, the, the owner of a restaurant or establishment to simply serve, uh, from a tap handle. Speaker 2: 03:53 Could you give us an example of some of those ingredients? Yes. Yeah. So, so essentially if, if you can make a a 12 ounce drink from scratch, you can make a 500 gallon version of the same thing. So a couple of great examples. Uh, we do a cold brew, Mexican mocha nondairy. So we make our own Mexican chocolate. And so we make our traditional black cold brew coffee and we go through that full process. And at the end of our brew cycle, we use our chocolate to simply melt into water. And then we introduce the sauce into the brood, black cold brew coffee, and we mix the whole thing and put that on a draft system. So we're able to take our chocolate, fuse it into our, our coffee and dispense it as a Mexican mocha without the use of milk. Uh, another super innovative product is green bean. Speaker 2: 04:38 So what we decided to do was take unroasted coffee. This is unusual. We don't cook it or put it through our coffee roaster. Instead we extract the raw juice that's in that bean. We soak it in water and pull the rod juice, and then we brew it with a mint, a leaf, and then we put that on a draft system. So to the average consumer, it would appear as green tea with mint, but it's actually raw unroasted coffee. What are the benefits of cold brew coffee? Uh, what really defines cold brew is solubility. So basically since you're not brewing at those hot temperatures, you're not dissolving coffee solubles you're developing flavor over time and you're also extracting more caffeine because of the longer brood time. But because you're not using those really hot waters, we're not dropping the solubles in the Cubs. So as a result for the consumer, it's a more pleasant drink. It's less acidity, it's easier on your system. And because of the longer brewed times that actually has more caffeine than traditional coffee. So it's really an upgrade or an improvement on, on the product. Speaker 1: 05:34 Okay. So Jason, we heard about Tom and the cold brew. What is also unique about San Diego's coffee scene. I ended up traveling to anywhere from 15 to 20 different cities in the country in a given year. And all that pretty much revolves around coffee and sometimes baseball, but that's a whole other story. But uh, San Diego from the get go was just very unique. It was kind of the radar in the sense that I feel like not a slam to LA or San Francisco, the Bay area, but they get so much attention and I really always felt from the beginning when we started doing this that San Diego seeing was just as good, if not better and definitely better in my opinion, um, by population. So San Diego also, um, I felt like was extremely invaded, innovative and still is to this day obviously, but on incorporating a lot of different other ingredients and that is also represents the population. Speaker 1: 06:33 And that's one thing that Tom mentioned too. I mean they're cold brews at Ryan brothers. There's a vast array of different flavor profiles and um, a lot of those ingredients that are brought in to coffee. You, you're starting to see in other parts of the country. But I've had some of the most unique coffee based drinks I've ever had in San Diego. And Jason, what kind of feedback do you get from businesses and the people who go on these coffee crawls? Well, first of all, I just a lot of comfort and again, you know, it's based around caffeine. It's not really a who can drink the most or a quantity thing. It's a quality pace thing. But you know, when you're at four or five shops and you have a a drink here and there, uh, of course makes you a little bit happier. And what we love to see is just engagement, not just overall with community, but people that come to these routes together that don't know one another. Speaker 1: 07:31 And by the third or fourth stop they're just talking away and they're becoming like Facebook friends and Instagram friends and you know, obviously face to face, real life friends. And it's just, it's fun to hear those stories and people opening up because really if you think about it, coffee shops are that third place anyway. It is a place to go and have that comfort and engage or yes, I know people go and put on their headphones and work on their laptops, but there's always some kind of human interaction there. And I think that's a big thing with the caffeine crawls. And then on the flip side, obviously for the businesses I'm fault, um, our whole job and what we do, we kind of call ourselves the cheerleader of the industry because we don't own a shop. We don't own a roasting company. I've been in the industry since 2004 but I feel like it's our job to help bring awareness to all these wonderful, amazing shops and people talking to each other sometimes too fast, I would imagine. Oh yeah, for sure. Now the seventh annual caffeine crawl, San Diego starts tomorrow through Sunday. You have to buy a ticket to attend any of the 11 walks. You can find out more at caffeine, crawl.com and I've been speaking with Tom Ryan, owner of Ryan brothers coffee and Barrio Logan and Jason Burton, owner of the lab. Thank you both. Absolutely. Thank you for bringing me in. Yeah. Thank you so much.

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Nearly 40 coffee, tea and chocolate shops in San Diego County are participating in the seventh annual San Diego Caffeine Crawl, which kicks of Friday.
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