Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fall Caffeine Crawl 2014

Better late than never, right? The fall Caffeine Crawl back in October took Kansas Citians and visiting caffeine addicts a tour of some of the best bean joints in town. 

My tour started out at Parisi, where we were served coffee before experience a phenomenal demonstration of molecular gastronomy to make coffee caviar. To illustrate the juiciness of the coffee pearls, Kate served them with homemade pomegranate pop rocks. It was a truly unique way to experience the coffee flavor.

Molecular Gastronomy Demonstration at Parisi

Coffee Caviar and Pomegranate Pop Rocks at Parisi

Kate and the folks at Parisi also served carbonated plums in order to illustrate "sparkling stone fruit acidity" which is a coffee term, but one that can be sometimes difficult to place. "Coffee should be fun." - Kate. 

The second stop was at Foo's Fabulous Frozen Custard, where our group was again offered some home-brewed coffee while getting the run-down on how they make their famous coffee custard (for special occasions, only!). The coffee frozen custard, which uses a unique toddy-like ice cream method) was paired with Christopher Elbow citrus chocolate bar and was literally the smoothest and creamiest dessert ever experienced.

Foo's has been serving KC custard and coffee since 1988.

Leaching out coffee flavor for frozen custard. 

Coffee Frozen Custard with Christopher Elbow
Chocolate Square at Foo's Fabulous Frozen Custard. 

Oddly Correct, the primarily whole sale coffee roaster, was our next stop. Their location downtown is their tasting room, where they focus on educating coffee lovers about the effects of temperature and time on the end flavor results in the coffee.

The Costa Rican coffee was served three ways. 

Coffee 1, the control coffee, was sweet, complex, uniquely smooth and flavorful. Coffee 2, roasted at 8* hotter than the first coffee, resulting in a darker roast, had a more caramel flavor, it stayed on the tongue longer, was heavier and had diminished sweetness. Coffee 3, which was roasted 7* lighter than the control coffee, was lighter on the tongue, sweeter with an up-front sweetness and was less complex and almost underdeveloped.

Discussing the effects of roasting time and
temperature on coffee beans at Oddly Correct.

PT's at the Crossroads began their presentation with three different types of chocolate that were blended with different types of coffee. They have recently re-blended and re-launched for the new season, so you'll always find something different in their chocolate selection. 

The Ethiopian chocolate was smooth and phenomenal. 

Jeff began the company in 1993 and began roasting in 1997. According to USA Today, they are the 5th best roaster in the states, which along with his two Cup of Excellence wins with at least two coffees in the top five of the competition since 2007 proves this is one of the best local coffee shops.

Jeff telling us about his family/friends from
whom he gets his coffee from Guatemala. 

The first coffee, a caturra, was sour, bitter, and floral. The second coffee, the Paca Mara (a likely future cup of excellence winner, and my personal favorite) was smooth and sweet, while the third coffee, margagatura, was bold and robust. It was created by blending two coffee varieties and has won the Cup of Excellence twice. 

Caturra, Paca Mara, and Margagatura coffees from Guatemala. 

Black Dog Coffeehouse began their presentation with a wonderful array of Ibis toast and jams (seriously, you haven't had toast till you've had this stuff!) 

Using Messenger Coffee, they demonstrated the flavors of pour over coffee. The Ethiopian was sweet and tasted of berries, while the Guatemalan had flavors of red apple and chocolate. The third coffee, Suluwase, tasted almost of garden vegetables. They explained that for pour-over, the water should be 204-208 degrees and the coarseness of the grind depends on the filter and how strong the coffee will be.

It was nice to have the flavors and grinding explained by people who understand them, as well as be able to relax and enjoy their large space. 

Our final stop of the day was to Homer's, where Jarred had the local band, Attic Wolves, performing while we sipped on Messenger Coffee and tasted a great variety of snacks that they offer. 

Homer's is a place of fellowship, where people can go to hear (free) live music in a non-smokey and non-bar environment. It's a great concept, and with delicious coffees like the Adado, which tasted of blueberries with a sweet finish, and Sumatra, which had a dry finish, it's nice to know that you can find both great entertainment and great coffee. 

Homemade scones, ginger cookies, and sugar cookies. 
All in all, this was a perfect Caffeine Crawl, and I can't thank the folks at The LAB enough for making this a thing. It's always a phenomenal time where patrons can enjoy a multitude of coffees, teas, chocolates, and other treats while learning about all the things that are involved in making our cup of joe. 

Smoke & Flowers

Drink: Smoke & Flowers
Type: Alcoholic
From: Q39
Price: $10
Description: Tart

This competition style BBQ joint down on 39th street features some of the most phenomenal burnt ends and brisket around town, with plenty of cocktails to pair with the different platter options. The Smoke & Flowers is a tart combination of Johnnie Walker Black, Elderflower, lemon, and soda.

The drink: smokey, floral, effervescent, and tart.

The smokiness from the whiskey comes first with an extreme tartness and flowery sweetness at the end. The fresh lemon gives it a pucker factor that goes well with the sweetness of Q39's sauce. The cocktail really does compliment the barbecue well, which is an added bonus.

Latte 3

Drink: Latte
Type: Coffee
From: Barista de Casa
Price: $3.25
Description: Creamy

Tucked away in the basement of one of Liberty's quaint houses in the old towns square is Barista de Casa, a family owned coffee shop and roaster. For the past three years this cute and cozy shop has been serving up snacks, tea, and most importantly, coffee. The latte that I had (while settled next to the fire) was perfect. It felt like being at a friend's house.

The drink: smooth, nutty, roasted, light.

The espresso has a wonderful toasted flavor to it that compliments the smooth nature of the latte. There was virtually no bitterness, but it also wasn't overly sweet. I can't imagine how lovely it must be to sit beside the fire sipping on coffee while the snow falls outside the low windows.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hot Toddy Recipe

Drink: Hot Toddy
Type: Tea / Alcoholic
Description: Soothing

It's definitely hot toddy season, especially with this recent cold front. Between the winter weather and the cold I've been suffering from, this hot toddy has been my go-to drink. There are a million ways to make a toddy, this just happens to be my favorite: 


1 oz. whiskey
8 oz. black tea
1 T. honey
fresh lemon

Brew tea. Steep 1 t. dry tea leaves in 8 oz. hot water for 3-5 minutes. While steeping, add about 1 T. honey, 1 oz. whiskey, and a slice of fresh lemon to a mug. When tea is finished brewing, add to the mug, stirring to mix honey and whiskey in the tea. Sip and enjoy. 

I like to choose my whiskey based on the tea that I'm using. My preferred tea for a hot toddy is Cream Royal Black Tea, with which I like to use American Honey or Jameson. A more floral tea, like Earl Grey, would pair better with a bourbon. I like the creaminess and smooth flavor that comes with the Cream Royal tea combined with the spiciness in Jameson and smoothness of American Honey.

Vieux Carre

Drink: Vieux Carre
Type: Alcoholic
From: The Majestic
Price: $10
Description: Flavorful

The Majestic, formerly The Fitzgerald Saloon, is an iconic KC staple located on Broadway. With wonderful food, great cocktails, and a jazz club that features live music seven nights a week, this downtown spot is great for date nights.

If you're looking for a late lunch, the happy hour menu is affordable and delicious. Their version of a Vieux Carre comes on the rocks and has a lingering spicy flavor that pairs quite nicely with their awesome burgers (one of the best in town).

The drink: spicy, flavorful, intense, smooth.

It's a wonderful sipping cocktail with deep flavor from the Old Overholt, Deau VS Cognac, and Dolin Sweet Vermouth. I can't wait to pair this with a night listening to music in the 100 year old building.

Cold Brew

Drink: Cold Brew
Type: Coffee
From: Thou Mayest
Price: $3.25
Description: Complex

Thou Mayest, located in The Crossroads, has a great space with both indoor and outdoor seating on two levels and a range of both coffee and cocktails available. Obviously this cold brew is perfect for warm and hot days (of which we are not currently having), but it's so delicious I couldn't resist doing the write-up for it!

The drink: rich, nutty, earthy, bold.

This cold brew coffee has just the right amount of dilution from ice and has a bold, acidic flavor that isn't overwhelming. Best enjoyed on the upstairs patio looking over the Crossroads KC stage, this coffee is delicious and flavorful.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Smokehouse Manhattan

Drink: Smokehouse Manhattan
Type: Cocktail
From: Smokehouse Bar-B-Q
Description: Well-Matched

Great KC BBQ requires a cocktail that can match. Smokehouse has a lovely take on the classic Manhattan. With Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, bitters, and sweet vermouth, it's well balanced and compliments the sweet nature of Smokehouse's sauce.

The drink: sweet, tart, great whiskey flavor.

What makes this a unique Manhattan is the black cherry infusion of Old Overholt. It adds a subtle fruitiness and depth of flavor to the cocktail. The cocktail is a bit heavy on the vermouth, but it adds that extra sweetness that goes well with their style of BBQ.

Cocktails at Jax Fish House

Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar on the Plaza is the new home of phenomenal local bartender Kenny Cohrs. During the media preview in October, Kenny shared several of the cocktails that are on the KC menu. 

The Roanoke

Named for the street on which this new oyster bar and restaurant resides, this gin-based cocktail includes ginger liqueur, fresh lemon juice, angostura bitters, and is topped with Moscato. It's light and refreshing with the perfect amount of effervescence and a subtle ginger flavor.

Jax Strawberry Lemonade

The world famous drink is a great option made in-house with fresh lemons and their own strawberry simple syrup. It's lightly sweet, not too tart, and has lovely strawberry flavor. 

 High Plains Negroni

With Greyling gin, Aperol, Dolin Rouge, and an orange peel, this is a great Negroni. It's well-balanced, bitter but fresh from the citrus and easy on the palate.

With a partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a by-the-glass wine list to pair with the freshest oysters you can get, a wonderfully diverse and unique menu, and a passionate staff, this is a gem that shouldn't be missed. Happy Hour is 4-6, with an all-night Happy Hour on Mondays. 

Autumnal Seasonal Italian Soda

Drink: Autumnal Seasonal Italian Soda
Type: Soda
From: Second Best Coffee
Price: $2
Description: Spicy

Other than the best espresso in Kansas City, one of the greatest things about Second Best Coffee in Waldo is their house-made syrups. I fell in love with the Lavender-Honey months ago and how well it compliments the coffee and espresso of the drinks instead of covering the flavors. The syrups are available as freshly-made Italian Sodas, and so in order to appreciate the straight flavor of the Autumnal Seasonal syrup, that's how I tried it.

The drink: bubbly, spicy, sweet, cool.

The Autumnal Seasonal syrup is ginger, cinnamon, and brown sugar. It's a perfect fall flavor and would be wonderful in coffee and espresso, and is delicious as a soda. The coolness and bubbly of the soda is a nice balance to the warmth and spiciness of the syrup, making for a very dynamic and tasty drink.