I cannot lie – I had a caffeine buzz going by the time we finished visiting our sixth place during the Omaha Caffeine Crawl Saturday.
We participated in the second Omaha Caffeine Crawl, along with about 23 other people in our group. We visited coffee houses around the city: Beansmith, The Tea Smith, Aromas, Omaha Bicycle Club, Archetype and Culprit Café. Each location shared some unique drinks and provided background on their establishment.
The Omaha crawl featured five routes (groups), with varied starting times and locations. We were fortunate to be on the same route as fellow blogger Kim of Oh My Omaha, her sister and sister-in-law.
Omaha is one of 14 Midwest cities to have a crawl by the Kansas City-based LAB group. The company consists of people who work in other areas, but host the crawls because of a love for coffee.
This was the second Caffeine Crawl the group hosted in Omaha. They had one a couple of years ago, but the coffee house options were limited. Omaha has had an explosion of coffee houses in the past year or so, and is ripe for more growth, so the crew welcomed the greater options.
Our route met the Beansmith in the Old Market. Beansmith has operated a LaVista-based roasting facility since 2010. The original goal of the company was to provide high quality roasted coffee to the Omaha area.
Earlier this year, they opened a coffeehouse in the Old Market. We sampled two shots of coffee. The first was a fully-extracted cold brew. It took 24 hours to make, as the beans were filtered at a rate of 1 drop every two seconds.
I’m not a fan of cold coffee. However, this sample had a nice bold taste to it. It tasted stronger than a warm coffee does. It reminded me of my father-in-law’s coffee. You can figuratively stand a spoon in one of his cups. However, the Beansmith version was less thick.
The second sample was a warm coffee. I preferred this one more. It tasted smoother to me, with a lighter texture.
We spent the most time at Beansmith, about 45 minutes. From there, we averaged about 30 minutes at each stop.
Our second stop was at Tea Smith, on Howard Street in the Old Market. It was about a two-minute walk.
Rather than trying coffee, we got a taste of Matcha tea. Originally from China, Matcha tea was taken by monks to Japan in the 10th century. Used primarily for ceremonies in the day, there is a ritual for making the tea.
A couple of people on the tour volunteered to make the tea. Starting with a bowl of green leaves, they used filters to drain the leaves into a bowl of warm water. Then, they used small whisks to mix the tea with the water.
The tea had a unique taste. It had a smooth feel to it. “Umami,” as our host, Tim Smith, said.
The shop offers a variety of tea pots. A fellow blogger uses teapots as a feature on her blog – “Teapot Tuesdays.” Lisa and I immediately thought of Beth Ann Chiles. Check out her blog at It’s Just Life.
The third stop on the crawl was a familiar spot to us. We’ve visited Aromas Coffeehouse and Bliss Bakery on the Old Market tour of Omaha Culinary Tours.
Autumn (the owner) shared her thoughts on caffeine outside of coffee. They baked us caffeine-infused shortbread cookies. They were delicious.
As a drink, the team put together a spin on chai. They added ingredients that gave it a root beer taste – thus, the root beer chai. It amazingly tasted like root beer. I asked Lisa if we got ice cream too for the drink. Our group seemed to like the spin on the chai.
It was now time for our first driving portion of the crawl. Transportation was not provided. I think that played a role in the lower ticket prices. But, as most Omahans know, you can get around town in less than 20 minutes.
Our fourth stop was in the Benson neighborhood at the Omaha Bicycle Club. It’s a coffeehouse AND a bike shop. Want to buy a cup of Joe? Check. Want to buy a bike? Check. Want to buy a cup of Joe and ride it on your newly purchased bike? Check and check.
We tried a lavender latte (cold drink). It was very good. Lisa’s friend, Lauren, is a barista there. She has a blog at Curtain and Pen .
I have to admit that the Omaha Bicycle Club rated high with me. The owner, Sarah Johnson, has an open personality and loves to talk. She seems to have a great attitude about life and politics and isn’t afraid to share with people. She injects a lot of humor in her conversations.
Benson has a reputation as an eclectic artsy neighborhood. Sarah fits right in with the neighborhood.
She looks at the Omaha Bicycle Club as more than a coffeehouse/bike shop. It’s part of a community, and she loves the community. She enjoys visiting with others and sharing stories.
The fifth stop was at Archetype in the Blackstone District. This is a newer entertainment area in midtown Omaha.
Isiah was out host for this leg. I could swear the dude had drank about 2-3 large pots of their coffee prior to our visit, as he was so energetic. We had a great time listening to him describe the perfect cup of coffee and the steps involved. He moved around a lot and waved his arms when talking. He added humor to the trip.
He had one of our fellow crawlers shoot a nerf dart gun at a target. His point was that baristas in general always shoot for the perfect cup of coffee, but don’t always get there.
His baristas work to meet the “Gold Cup” standard, which combines, time, grind and temperature. The perfect cup of coffee should be between 195 and 205 degrees. This gives the coffee the best taste and flavor.
We sampled three cups – the “Gold Cup,” under done and over done. The “Gold Cup” had a strong bold flavor. The “Under done” cup was OK. It had a bit of a smooth taste. The “over done” cup was very strong and bitter.
Our final stop on the Caffeine Crawl brought us back to the edge of the Old Market.
Jason hosted us at Culprit Café and Bakery. Jason is a New York-trained pastry chef. When he came to Omaha, he learned quickly that pastry chefs don’t really exist here, so he developed an all-around chef skill.
It was his love for pastries that led him to open Culprit about a year-and-a-half ago. He said people are amazed when they try items like croissants there. They see and taste the airiness and lightness that the pastry offers.
Of course, coffee goes with pastries. Combined, he had a winner!
Rather than close out our day (which was pushing 1 p.m.) with a cup of coffee, he thought he’d provide us a dessert treat. We each sampled an Affogato – a shot of espresso over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Awesome sauce!
That shot of espresso reenergized me and had me ready to go on another on crawl for four hours. Actually, we had a great time on the crawl.
The LAB group hopes to make this an annual event in Omaha. Based on the fact that the five routes sold out, I can see that happening. Plus, we have had people asking us about it and wishing they’d been able to go.
I did notice that there is a caffeine crawl scheduled in Kansas City Nov. 6-8. Hmmm…
For more information on the Caffeine Crawl, please visit their website at www.caffeinecrawl.com.
For more information on the locations we visited, please see:
Disclaimer: Thank you to the LAB Group for the complimentary tickets for the Omaha Caffeine Crawl. However, all opinions and views are ours.