Joe, dirt, mud, brew, java, cuppa, or jitter juice — no matter what you call it, coffee offers groups a pick-me-up worth planning a tour around. From the tropical rainforests of Wahiawa, Hawaii, to the refurbished warehouse district of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, these five venues offer coffee tours and unique looks into a highly-caffeinated industry.
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City may be known for barbecue and jazz, but air roasted, fair trade coffee is all the rage at The Roasterie coffee house on West 27th Street.
On a complimentary factory tour, groups learn about the cupping, roasting and blending processes as well as a bit of the company’s history.
“We provide a behind-the-scenes look at how we are roasting fresh coffee daily, give a manual coffee brewing demonstration and welcome visitors into our beautiful café and retail store,” said Stacy Barter, corporate project manager.
Times for public coffee tours are listed on the tour page of The Roasterie website. For larger groups or 15 or more, hourlong private tours may be available. The best time to schedule private tours is Monday–Friday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., but other times, including early mornings, will be considered when resources are available.
Green World Coffee Farm
The largest producer of coffee in the United States, the Hawaiian Islands are best known for an abundance of Kona beans. Mainly harvested in small batches across hundreds of family-owned farms, groups have many options for enjoying Kona coffee.
The Green World Coffee Farm on North Shore of Oahu offers groups both guided and self-guided coffee tours, seven days a week. Tours last between 10–15 minutes and discuss how coffee is grown, processed and roasted. Visitors stroll through the farm’s coffee garden and watch the roaster in action.
At the end of the tour, visitors may enjoy up to five free samples of coffee in the gift shop and cafe. Large groups should make an advance reservation at least two weeks in advance.
Stone Creek Coffee
Located in a beautifully refurbished warehouse building in downtown Milwaukee, participants of the Stone Creek Coffee factory tour will experience the city’s urban revitalization firsthand.
“People generally tend to enjoy a variety of aspects about the tour depending on their interests,” said Marie Jeruc, customer care coordinator. The tour leader will go over coffee sourcing, green coffee storage, roasting and brewing.
“The leader guides the group through different areas of our building: our green storage area in the basement, roasting and production facility and occasionally past our bakery on the second floor. The tour starts and ends in our Training Lab, which is located on the first level of the building in the cafe.”
While free coffee tours are hosted every Sunday at noon, private tours may be arranged during normal cafe hours of operation. Tours last between 45 and 60 minutes and samples of single origin black coffee are typically offered to guests during the tour.
Jeruc adds that while there is not a limit to the size of the group, 30 individuals is the maximum number for the optimum experience.
Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea: The Innovation Lab
In Columbus, Ohio, the staff at Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea wants coffee consumers and coffee professionals to learn about what goes into making a great cup of coffee.
Designed as a multi-purpose classroom with separate laboratories, the facility’s Innovation Lab commonly hosts baristas for brewing methods and training, scientists for sampling and quality control, and roasters for profile analysis and product experimentation.
“The Innovation Lab helps connect people to the different stages of coffee production,” said Melissa Rogner, marketing director. “We have a classroom, application lab, roasting lab and cupping lab that can accommodate up to 75 people at one time.”
Large groups are welcome to register for any of the courses listed on the The Innovation Lab webpage. Class descriptions, cost, times, dates and registration information also is provided.
Starbucks 1st & Pike coffeehouse
Located in the heart of Pike Place Market, the 1st & Pike Starbucks location is must-stop for the caffeine-crazed tour-goer. The first-ever Starbucks opened at the market in 1971.
The location has a rich history and holds a vital importance to the Starbucks company and the city of Seattle. The design of the 1st & Pike coffeehouse evokes the warm heritage of the first store through its hardwoods, furniture and lighting. The store also is LEED® Gold certified.
Groups won’t want to miss a photo op by the cafe’s original sign and mermaid logo. And they’ll need to stay for a drink, or two. The 1st & Pike location sticks to tradition and only serves coffee and espresso.
If time doesn’t permit a long stay, visitors can grab a Venti Pike Place® Roast to go while exploring everything Pike Place Market has to offer.
Article by Julie Henning