Caffeine addicts learn to 'crawl'

Rick Martin aims to make coffee so "juicy" you'll forgo the sugar and cream.

He says people add milk to counteract the acidity, sugar to counteract the bitterness to the point that "you have no idea what you've got it's so generic."

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Martin's Momento Coffee House on West Fourth Avenue near Macdonald Street will show participants in the June 23 Caffeine Crawl the process of making pourover coffee. "That correlation between smell and flavour is quite lost in the process, so this is one of the processes that actually can get you close to that smell, except on your palate, on your tongue it tastes great," Martin said.

Momento is one of six businesses participating in Canada's first Caffeine Crawl, the fifth year in North America.

Its organizers contend most coffee-related events draw industry participants, so the crawl aims to fill that empty cup. The event allows customers to ask baristas questions they normally lack the time to field.

"The younger demographic is chasing after these artisan or specialty products that define them more than a house or a car," said Jason Burton, founder of The LAB, a beverage marketing company based in Kansas City that organizes the crawls. "Food and beverage is so hot."

The Caffeine Crawl starts June 22 with a daylong grassroots forum for coffee professionals called Barista Nation at Salt Spring Coffee headquarters in Richmond. Attendees of Barista Nation and Caffeine Crawl ticket holders can commune at the PreCrawl Party Friday night. Proceeds from the party, which includes a raffle of food and beverage prizes, will benefit CARE, a non-sectarian, non-profit charity that works to alleviate global poverty.

Caffeine Crawlers can buzz between Momento, Xoxolat on Burrard Street, Caffe Artigiano on West Hastings, Salty Tongue Café on Carrall Street, Salt Spring Coffee on Main Street and Prado Café on Commercial Drive for coffee and chocolate samples and peppy presentations Saturday, between 10 and 5. Ticket holders will receive a goodie bag that includes a water bottle to stay hydrated and keep their jitteriness in check.

The LAB chose Vancouver to host Canada's first Caffeine Crawl because the best coffee abounds in the Pacific Northwest, according to Burton. Tickets were still available as of Tuesday morning, with buyers including visitors from Los Angeles and Washington State.

Instead of dedicating thousands of dollars, counter space and electricity to huge coffee brewing machines, Memento makes coffee with French presses, pourover ceramic drip cones and chemistry-set like syphons. Martin, who also owns the Mac Market adjacent to the coffee house, says Memento experiments with extracting the best flavour from each bag of beans and he encourages customers to taste the coffee before they add sugar or cream.

"We've spent almost two and-a-half years now educating people about drinking coffee," Martin said. "We used to have about four litres of cream and milk that we'd go through. Now, in a day, if we go through a litre, it's considered wow, that was a crazy."

For more information, see Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi

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