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A Time for Humans: Metric & Chicago Community Raise over $1,000 for Kaleidoscope 4 Kids

With a lot of us wrapping up holiday travel and time with others, your Metric humans find ourselves reflecting on our recent Holiday Throwdown. On December 18, 2018 at Caffe Streets, as the cafe’s day concluded, we made our way into the shop repurposing it. We hung tinsel streamers. We polka-dotted the lighting fixtures with ornaments. Most importantly we crammed nearly a hundred people into Streets.

Metric and other coffee companies can’t operate without communicating with other humans. Coffee is an inherently social industry, with people at every level of the coffee chain: from producing partners at origin to the humans serving at their given restaurants or cafes. However, the social interactions often stop at coffee talk. Our Holiday Throwdown was an exercise in trying to buck this trend looking passed coffee or business delineations. Rather than seeing brands as restrictions, we looked for the event to pull resources from like-minded sponsors (such as Oatly) to build a gathering centered on the community and the humans at the core of our work.

Our Partnerships and Projects Manager, Jess Salgado, headed the event coordination as she collaborated with other humans on our team and our sponsors. Throughout the event’s development, she continued to reiterate an intention of making the Holiday Throwdown an inclusive celebration focused on “uplifting” and “supportive” themes. As a team, we looked to manifest this direction in a variety of ways. We fashioned our company GoPro to project a the pours so those outside the baristas and judges could see the work. We developed a raffle with prizes outside of having exclusively worth in coffee, such as a First Ascent climbing package, tattoo gift certificate to Time Being. We utilized banners loaned to us from Kaleidoscope 4 Kids’ to help decorate Caffe Streets.

This attention to planning went equal parts into intentional re-commitment of our relationship to, the aforementioned, Kaleidoscope 4 Kids. Having worked previously with Kaleidoscope, their cause of uplifting Chicago youths has lingered with us. (For those unfamiliar, Kaleidoscope 4 Kids provides programming for children to cope with trauma through artistic expression [see the images below]). We invited them to come and be part of the evening as well as the recipients of the evening's proceeds. Their executive director, Kathy Grzelak's presence and opening words were a pertinent extension of the humanistic themes at the heart of the event allowing us to fully actualize the party as a benefit for a beyond worthy cause.

With textual reminiscence aside, it only seems fit to conclude this year and this recap with some humanity. Please enjoy the following images of the humans that made this event so special for us:

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(Bess, Kathy, [from Kaleidoscope 4 Kids] and friends)

(Banner from Kaleidoscope 4 Kids made by the kids)

(Jonathan Parnell [our Volunteer Event Bartender])

(Katie Thomas & Mickey Kennedy)

(Ivan and Will)

(Harris Nash with Uprise's donated Jesse Neuhaus Bonsai board)

(John Petrenko)

(Paul Octavious, Mike Duesenberg [Holiday Throwdown poster co-designer], Ty Banks [Metric Barista, Educator, Throwdown winner]).

Images courtesy of Matthew Schwerin.

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Full Sponsor List (in alphabetical order): Able BrewingAsrai GardenCandid WinesFederal MotoFirst Ascent ChicagoHopewellKaleidoscopeLa MarzoccoLonesome RoseMahlkönigOatlyPastoral ArtisanRancilioRhine HallSolemn OathSpirit TeaTrade Coffee CoTomorrow Never Knows FestivalTopo ChicoUprise SkateshopVirtue Cider, & Wayward

Metric x Hopewell: Deluxe, an Imperial Coffee Stout.

We are (and have been) big admirers of Hopewell appreciating how they balance quality and design harmoniously with their small-ness. So when they reached out several months ago, we jumped at the opportunity to collaborate on a coffee beer.

The collaboration began with a cupping. Xavier, Metric co-owner and project parley, wanted Hopewell to choose the coffee via a blind taste test ensuring that the brewers had an intimate relationship with the coffee and its flavor profile. With six coffees on the table, the consensus pointed to incorporating a balanced, clean Honduras lot: Beneficio San Vicente.

From there, Hopewell created a cold concentrate that they incorporated into an imperial stout base. Then, they steeped coarsely ground San Vicente in the beer yielding a sweet, but balanced brew with notes of fudge and caramel rounding out the beer. 

For a visual overview, check out Potluck Creative's well-crafted synopsis:

An Uppers & Downers Recap

Uppers & Downers reminds us once again about what an amazing community of brewers and roasters Chicago has. The event last weekend at Thalia Hall was an incredible opportunity to meet new folks, reconnect with old friends, and drink a lot of different beverages.  

Upon walking in, the smell of freshly ground coffee emanates from the row of espresso machines to the right. Metric brought the Kenyan Muthunzuuni Peaberry and had the pleasure of pulling on a La Marzocco GS3 Auto-Volumetric. The lighter bodied, tropical notes of the coffee came through consistently beautifully on this machine. 

Across the hall at the foot of the stage were shoulder-to-shoulder brewers ready to showcase their coffee-beers. The people behind the bar were just as excited as the folks on the other side. Glasses were filled often and generously as everyone sampled the variety of interpretations that coffee-beer has inspired. From ultra-coffee-ish stouts, to coffee IPAs, to brews like the Metric-Maplewood collaboration. Maplewood's Bam Bam was a red ale infused with cold brew; meanwhile, the Meow Meow was a one-off project featuring a golden ale that interacted with crushed Ethiopian coffee and then sat on raspberries for color and a pleasant fruity tartness. Our collaboration with Off Color Brewing resulted in a well-balanced farmhouse ale incorporating our Ethiopian Hambela Genet, and we also had the pleasure of One Trick Pony using Metric's Gypsy Blood Espresso to create a kettle-soured Belgian farmhouse ale. Each sip showed a different way of thinking about coffee-beer. This event unites two industries with such vastly different methods and histories united by an intense love of balance, flavor, and nuance, and gives them both a reason to get together to make something uniquely wonderful. 

In the middle of this beautiful space, there was an ocean of beverage-lovers from all over the nation. From seeing regulars from Metric West Fulton, to meeting the co-founder of Sprudge, to simply realizing how many people are out there who want to experience this enigmatic and expanding world of craft and collaboration--to be a part of Uppers & Downers was a learning opportunity, a social event, and an unforgettable experience.
It was honor to pour alongside some innovators in our field, and to share our craft with good people who love coffee and beer as much as we do. We thank everyone who supported Metric along the way, and particularly thank the show runners Good Beer Hunting, La Marzocco, and our partners who incorporated our coffee into their brews: Maplewood Brewing and Distillery, Off Color Brewing, and One Trick Pony. 
We look forward to meeting up again next year. 
Cheers!