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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:


(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.


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:

Coffee Beer Magic Time: A Conversation with Maplewood Brewery and Distillery

“You’ve gotta follow your own path.’”

Adam Smith, Brand Manager at Maplewood Brewery and Distillery

Listen, we love beverages. Even recognizing that this statement can sound either bland or psychotic, we stand by it. Truly, we love ‘em.  There is something a little thrilling to us in tasting new flavors and in sampling some of our old favorites. For us over at Metric, Maplewood Brewing and Distillery represents the best in both novel and traditional beverages. Specifically, beer and liquor. As Uppers & Downers inches closer (February 25! Get tickets in advance!), we are excited to highlight and discuss our collaboration with Maplewood via two very unique coffee-beers that will be featured in the event: the Guatemalan Bam Bam, and the Apocalypse Meow Meow.

The coffee-beer movement is a relatively new one. One of the reasons we are happy to be partnered with Maplewood is because they are just as keen to innovate, explore, and discover new ways to express the idea of coffee-beer. Brewed with Chinook, Cascade, and Mosaic hops, the Guatemalan Bam Bam balances ideals of lighter roast coffee in a lighter beer.

“With the Bam Bam, the idea for us was to do something unexpected, and to really bring out a different side of the coffee,” says Adam. “We wanted something lighter. Something that would really bring the coffee out, but you would still have aspects of the base beer. The red ale does have that light roast, and you do get the fruitiness of the hops in there. It’s such a perfect marriage. It all comes together as one, really nice beer.”


The other beer is the Apocalypse Meow Meow—a name that obliquely echoes the Bam Bam and alludes to a movie most people have heard of, but mostly means nothing at all. For this brew, a golden ale will be processed with oats and lactose sugars, Metric’s Natural Ethiopian beans, and fresh raspberries. This full-bodied light ale will actually sit on the fruit in order to extract the bright and delicious juices, with the coffee providing aromatics and mild floral, sweet flavors. This small batch won’t be around very long, but will be a must-taste during the second session of Uppers & Downers.

Maplewood Brewery and Distillery, at just two years in and with a grand total of four employees (including the two owners), is already finding more-than-solid footing in Chicago’s beer scene. They are located at 2717 N. Maplewood in Logan Square, and have been making their way onto menus and into stores across the city. One of their beers, the American Pale Ale titled “Charlatan” has been selling faster than it can be brewed. And while many brewers would stop there, it’s clear that folks over at Maplewood have no intention of limiting their ambition.

“We’re humbled and happy,” says Adam, before launching into the plans taproom, which will be opening in the very near future. “We want to be open all the time. People can come in on their laptop and just chill. We’ll have coffee, we’ll have beer, we’ll have booze, and some mixed drinks.” Food trucks, late nights, tours, tastings, and more are on the docket as well.

Coffee, beer, and coffee-beer are ever-changing concepts. Pushing forward isn’t always easy, but when driven by passion, it can at least be fun. It’s the difference between saying “I don’t know,” and “Let’s find out.” The folks over at Maplewood focus on the possible. Their sense of adventure is wholly intact, and their sense of quality is relentlessly in tune. The best part about doing what you love is that you get to truly forge your own path in the world—and that’s an ideal that seems to unite Metric and Maplewood outside of coffee and beer. Keep an ear out for Maplewood’s taproom opening, and pick up a brew the moment you get the chance. In the meantime, bottoms up, cheers, skål, cin cin and meow meow. We’ll see you at Uppers & Downers, and anywhere in between.