A Dose of Durham's Best Coffee

A Dose of Durham's Best Coffee
Kelsey and all of her Bicycle People

This past Sunday, a small cohort of bicycle bearing buddies departed Raleigh Union Station, headed to Durham via train. Our mission: espionage.

The plan was simple. Infiltrate the inaugural Durham Coffee Tour hosted by Kelsey Graywill (@graywillcreative) and reconnoiter the organization, planning and execution of the event. Exfiltrate via train, bringing those sensitive secrets back to Raleigh where we will host a similar event...

And invite everyone from Durham. Duh.

We unloaded our bikes from the train and rolled up to the Bull Statue in the center of downtown, where there was already a growing crowd of Bicycle People. A megaphone-toting Kelsey stood at the center of the gaggle, calling out ground rules, who was the sweep, and what the general plan was. Before I knew it, we were off.

Our group of pedaling pals zipped along the uneven roads, glided beneath the brick overpasses by the mills, and wound our way through the quieter backstreets, heading mostly north. At a point within Duke's campus, we circled a roundabout several times. Visions of the Arc de Triomphe danced through our minds, glimpsed between the spinning spokes and chains. Then, as though responding to a silent signal, all fifty of us veered away from the roundabout and continued on to our first coffee stop.

The stops came quickly. We started at Joe Van Gogh, where Kelsey talked briefly about the historical love affair between coffee and bikes, and we got to try some coffee and churros on the front deck. After a bit of confusion and several flats on the greenway, we stopped at Perfect Lovers. We chose the back porch, enjoyed the sun and our coffee, and then biked back into town. Our last stop was Yonder Coffee, where we tried three different coffee roasts in the warm afternoon. Time really does fly when you're having fun; suddenly, the tour was over, and we all went our separate ways back into the alleys of the Bull City.

Kelsey's artwork and creative touch added a lot of "snap" to the event, making it truly a one-of-a-kind day. However, my hunch is that the massive turnout of the event was driven by her genius advertising. There were QR codes taped on bike racks throughout the city with some basic date/time info. Something tells me that this was not a primarily social media driven event, seeing as there was little representation from Raleigh. The QR codes must have done their job.

The engagement and buy-in on the part of the coffee shops was also vital. The coffee passport was a great idea, promoting traffic to each shop. This event went a long ways towards highlighting lesser-known shops and getting people in the door on bikes.

We now have a lot of good intel to work with. :)

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