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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:

Comfort, Quality, and Coffee: A Conversation with Lula Cafe

“We want to be able to have really quality ingredients, but we also want to be accessible to the general crowd.”

Daniel Piquard, Bar Manager at Lula Cafe

Most of the time, the ideals of a comfortable local café and fine dining run like parallel lines, doomed to coexist yet never intersect.  It takes a place like Lula Café to remind us that those lines don’t exist at all. A warm experience that embraces mind-expanding, creative cuisine is what Lula is all about, and the fact that they’ve been doing this since 1999 only confirms the notion that they do it quite well. This week, we sat down with Daniel Piquard, Bar Manager, and Dennis Webber, Wine Director at Lula Café.

Emerging out of café culture, Lula has developed a seasoned reputation as being one of Chicago’s favorite brunch spots. Consequently, Lula has a close relationship with coffee.

“We want to continue the through-line to how much we care about our food, how much we take presentation and preparation in mind, and extend that through coffee. Have it not be an afterthought, but a part of the whole experience,” says Dennis. 

Since opening seventeen years ago, Lula has expanded from one Logan Square café storefront to three, plus outdoor seating. A sense of pride emanates from the thoughtfully plated food and well-crafted beverages to the décor. Coffee by Metric and locally sourced ingredients are set against a backdrop of local art as well as structural qualities hinting at the history of the building itself. Authenticity permeates every aspect of the Lula experience, and that is what leads to another truly special part of Lula: the staff. 

“To approach people and sound like a real human being, and genuinely welcome them into the restaurant, and to provide a warm experience for them is a major part of it as well. We can express our creativity and our professionalism through a filter of genuine warmth, customer service, and hospitality,” says Daniel.

Creativity in the kitchen and genuine warmth are twin pillars at Lula, and they are what brings people back over and over again. The café menu has been the same since opening, featuring comforting staples like the Lula ’99 Turkey Sandwich or Pasta YiaYia. Yet endless innovation runs through Lula on a weekly basis, from seasonal cocktails to the three-course Monday night farm dinners that feature freshly selected ingredients.

“I love when customers are really happy, really engaged, and really excited about the food we put out. Seeing people get really excited about trying something new,” says Dennis. “Finding that element of surprise that really enlivens people and excites their palate is really rewarding.” 

Lula has featured Metric Coffee for several years, and this year are partners along with Hopewell Brewing for the upcoming Good Beer Hunting event. The “Uppers & Downers” themed dinner series showcasing combinations of everyone’s favorites (beer, coffee, and food) takes places on Monday, May 22. Hopewell is playing host and providing the beer, Lula is taking their show on the road to cater out one of their famous farm dinners, and Metric is covering the coffee. When talking about what Lula is planning on cooking up, they are leaving plenty of room for inspiration and freshness, central themes to their Monday night farm dinners. One thing is certain, though. It’s shaping up to be a pretty amazing night.