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Cow Town, Coffee Town

Emily McIntyre

In a collision of hipster cool and coffee love, coffee professionals and consumers from a 16-state region met this January in an old repurposed ballroom in Kansas City to celebrate the magical beverage that brings people together and—it turned out—watch Pete Licata finesse his way through the first level of competitions that would lead to his World Barista Championship win, in Melbourne.

A training session at Broadway Café.

The BCRBC (Big Central Regional Barista Championship) was an announcement to the world that Kansas City had arrived, in the culture of specialty coffee. Of course, this was no secret to the hard-working folks who've been roasting and serving coffee in Cow Town over the past few decades.

Kansas City's coffee culture is strong and growing fast: in garages over home roasters made from barbecue grills, in a re-built fire station over bags of coffee directly sourced from farmers around the world, in the heart of the city and in the suburbs. Throughout the city, people from all walks of life celebrate coffee and the people who make it.


Tucked away in Raytown, an eastern suburb of Kansas City, Benetti's Coffee Experience is uniquely welcoming: a house remodeled into a café, with art from local artists on the walls, plenty of comfortable seating, and front and back patios. Warm brown and teal accent the walls, and a curving copper bar draws the eye straight to the gleaming custom Marzocco espresso machine and the cheerful baristas who use it.

Benetti's offers a comprehensive list of single-cup extraction methods, and the baristas love to talk coffee while they work. A micro-roaster focusing on a thick, malty, caramelized espresso profile, Benetti's sells beans to home enthusiasts as well as wholesale accounts.

Recognizing the need for information among the growing home roaster population in KC, the folks at Benetti's have regular training events and offer green bean sales.


Broadway Café

Customers ranging from grunge to business professionals gather under the iconic black-and-white striped awnings of Broadway Café to sip their coffee and watch the city flow by. Established in 1992, Broadway was the first cafe in Kansas City to focus solely on coffee, and it quickly developed a loyal following that forced the first Starbucks to open in the Midwest (right next door) out of business.

The roasting company is remarkable for the sustainable, face-to-face growth of its customer base in a digital age. Winner of the 2012 Good Foods award, Broadway focuses on sustainably-sourced coffee and on constantly pursuing excellence without an eye to trends. Good coffee, treated with respect.



Filling Station

Located in a lush Midtown neighborhood, the Filling Station may be the most unique space in Kansas City coffee: an actual filling station that has been converted into a high-ceilinged café with a long bar and lots of seating, inside and out.

In good weather, the walls are opened and customers occupy the expanded space, savoring fresh-squeezed juices and quality pastries along with coffee from Broadway and Oddly Correct (see below). The Filling Station offers a consistent, outstanding product, delivered in a unique environment.


Oddly Correct

What's trending in Kansas City coffee? Oddly Correct, of course. The brainchild of Gregory Kolsto and a team of very cool coffee people, Oddly Correct has been growing a grassroots-style following for several years now. 

A new space opened at the beginning of 2013, and with two of the baristas placing in the finals at the BCRBC, Oddly Correct quickly gained the public eye.

The coffee at Oddly Correct is classic third-wave: light-roasted, single-origin offerings, minimally presented. Gregory's skill with printmaking and the sparse, industrial aesthetic of the space make for an experience worth trying.



Friendly Bean

A loyal following of customers that spans a decade and two locations in northern Kansas City shows why the Friendly Bean deserves its name. A micro-roaster focusing on sustainable relationships with farmers, John Neudorf at The Bean also makes it clear that the customer is the heart of the business.

Many lasting relationships have begun in the small, warm space of The Bean (including the author's, who met her husband over a cappuccino at The Bean).


About the Coffee

From the home roasting and barista community to the circle of professional baristas who gather often at cafés across the city for local latte art throw-downs, coffee lovers in Kansas City are always exploring.

A small brew bar and "toy store for coffee lovers" called About the Coffee provides the opportunity for anyone to sip a cup from a rotating stock of local roasters. This kind of neighborhood gathering-place is slowly transforming the competitive nature of Kansas City's coffee community into something a bit more generous.



There are many more deserving coffee shops and roasting companies than are mentioned here, including RevoCup, Parisi (home of Pete Licata), The Roasterie, One More Cup, and Quay Coffee, among others. In a city with an exploding culinary scene, Kansas City's coffee community offers an outstanding variety and attention to detail.

Emily McIntyre is a freelance writer who specializes in covering coffee culture. When not writing, she's usually drinking coffee with her husband (a roaster and Q Grader), and her toddler daughter (who loves cappuccinos).


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