Like a lot of young people in love, Jeremiah Kinser used to find any excuse to be around his now fiance, Laura Tolliver.
As a student at Kennesaw State near Atlanta, he was accustomed to having lots of entertainment options, so when the two moved back to the North Georgia area where they'd both grown up, he found that hanging out at the Starbucks in the less cosmopolitan Dalton where she worked served two missions for him.
"I used to love listening to the workers there, the really knowledgeable ones, talk about coffee," he said.
Coffee became a passion for him and six years ago he started the Chattanooga Coffee Crawl as a way to share his love. He was so passionate about it, in fact, he didn't even charge to take small groups of strangers around to local coffee shops.
Today, the tours cost $25, and he has added a new coffee-related venture with the creation of the Chattanooga Coffee Box, an online enterprise that will deliver coffees from local roasters and shops to your door.
The goal is to make it a subscription-based business, but while trying to grow that, people can order the coffee by the bag, as a sampler or flight which comes with four 1.8 ounce bags of coffee good for 12-16 cups of coffee, or the larger Coffee Box which has four 2.7 ounce bags good for 16-24 cups.
The flights are $14.99 and the larger box is $15.99 and shipping is included. One-time purchases are available and there is a 5% for subscribing. You can choose to have it delivered whole bean or ground.
"No two boxes are the same from month to month," Kinser said.
Kinder has relationships with most of the local coffee roasters and shops and hopes to include all of them as part of the coffee boxes. The featured coffees will range from organic or gourmet to specialty coffees, which are rated by buyers certified by the Specialty Coffee Association.
This month the featured coffees are Honduras Copan roasted by Plus Coffee Roasting, Ethiopia Gelena Abaya roasted by Mean Mug Coffee Roasters, Nicaragua roasted by Goodman Expert Coffee Roasters and Papua New Guinea Barioda Estate roasted by Frothy Monkey Roasting Co.
Future boxes will include coffees from R.V.W. Premium Barrel-Aged Coffee, Fleetwood Coffee, Rembrandt's and Lola Beans Coffee.
When he first started the crawl, Kinser would meet a group of people via social media and he would schedule a time to join them at one of the local shops, especially the ones roasting their own beans.
He did this at no cost, but soon decided to start asking for a dollar or two to cover his time.
"Nobody wanted to pay," he said.
Then he discovered Chattanooga Pints & Pedals, the bicycle-based tour that takes people around the city on a pub crawl. Kinser approached owner John Kenworthy about using the bike during pub crawl down times for a coffee crawl and an agreement was reached.
Kinser does his tours from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday mornings and gets between six and 15 people. Most are tourists or the occasional recent transplant looking to discover not only a place to get a good cup of coffee, but to see the city from a new light.
"I have so much fun," he said.
Kinser usually starts his tours at Frothy Monkey at the Choo Choo because of their coffee and food selections.
"They have a great latte."
The tour can then go to Velo, Goodmans, Mean Mug or Mad Priest. Kinser said he limits the tours to three locations because of caffeine intake can be overwhelming. He has learned to avoid the uber-caffeinated nitro cold brew at Mad Priest as part of the tour.
"I start to stutter if I end with one of those," he said. "It does make the people pedal faster, though."
Kinser said his tours are more about enjoying good coffee and good conversation than they are meant to be coffee master classes.
"I've gone down that rabbit hole with people and it can get overwhelming. The people who come want to find a new coffee shop and see part of the city," he said.
The bike is equipped with a motor for climbing hills or when the groups decide they have had enough pedaling.
"Anyone can do this," Kinser said of the effort required to pedal the bike.
Both the crawls and the boxes are one-man operations with Kinser doing everything from label design to grinding the beans for customers who order it that way.
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.