During Fall 2008, Gregory Kolsto had more than pumpkins and holidays on his mind — he was starting a coffee roasting company out of his garage. Today, his business entitled Oddly Correct still caters to coffee enthusiasts on Main Street and Westport Road in Kansas City, Mo. With only 11 items on its menu and no lattes, mochas, or syrup-flavored drinks available, the shop has built a reputation by simplifying the coffee experience.
The Brew Bar features three new coffee roasts daily, and an espresso bar offers different drink choices such as Hop Toddy and Americano. Oddly Correct baristas not only roast for their shop but also offer beans wholesale so customers can buy in bulk. Although his employees go against the grain of modern coffee conventions, Kolsto said they took the time to understand coffee, resulting in an uncommonly satisfying experience for visitors.
“We have everyday regulars that have been with us since the beginning, but a big percentage are new every day,” Kolsto said. “We get to share a new experience with them.”
An advocate for coffee without sugars, milks and syrups, the staff at Oddly Correct shares coffee in its purest form with Kansas City.
For several years, Saturday mornings have meant long lines and full tummies in a bustling corner shop in Liberty, Mo. Located on the square, Barista de Casa is a popular hangout spot for coffee fans. Shop owner Brandon Gott discovered his roasting talents by experimenting with beans in his stovetop Whirley Pop popcorn maker, and the rest was history. He says the sense of community that can be created over a great cup of joe has kept him in the coffee business. Gott recalls one morning when the richest man in town was having his coffee and chatting with a young homeless man he didn’t know.
“When was the last time you went to any restaurant and got into a conversation with the table next to you?” he says.“It doesn’t happen often, but when you add some coffee, it happens every day.
Since 2004, every bean and drop of coffee sold at Friendly Bean has been roasted in a roasting machine named Betsy. Despite customers often wanting to make it at home, Friendly Bean does not offer wholesale. The shop’s main focus is serving its customers within the Kansas City, Mo., community.
“It’s not just about the coffee, but making an impact on people’s lives,” Friendly Bean employee Sam Schmitt said.
The shop imports its beans from farms in Honduras and Guatemala. During summer 2013, shop owner John Neudorf visited the farmers in Honduras for a week. He worked in the fields with Jorge, and now they’re more than just business partners — they’re friends.
“An AIDS/HIV orphanage in Honduras has been sending gifts to us with our logo on it,” Schmitt said. “They really appreciate [Neurdorf’s visits].”
A key component of the shop’s mission is involvement in both the community of Kansas City and the homeland of the beans. Schmitt said Friendly Bean employees are excitedly planning a December 2013 Guatemalan trip to reach even more of the farms. With expansion in the works, Friendly Bean not only serves quality drinks, but also brings pieces of the world home.
Located in Kansas City, Mo., About the Coffee is not a traditional neighborhood coffee shop, but a gathering ground. Local shop owners, baristas and coffee enthusiasts can purchase op-of-the-line espresso machines, select glasses and browse other necessities in this coffee supply store. Because it does not roast or serve coffee specifically, this establishment is singular among Kansas City coffee shops. By promoting all 17 local roasters, About the Coffee brings area coffee experts together.
“We are the Switzerland of the coffee industry,” owner Marty Roe said. “All competing shops work with us and support what we do.”
An annual event hosted at the shop is the Jam-Jam. At this gathering, several businesses supply free food and drinks while local musicians perform to entertain guests. Visitors can try affogato, a scoop of ice cream covered in an espresso shot, or sample several other coffee treats while listening to music and chatting with coffee roasters from around the Kansas City area. If a customer finds herself craving coffee while shopping at About the Coffee, there are plenty of beans for sale to take home.
The love and excitement owner Sarah Honan, her business partner Jon Cates and the rest of their team at Broadway Roasting Company in Kansas City, Mo., show regarding the art of making coffee is evident the moment visitors walk through the door. Every week, management hosts an hour of coffee knowledge, flavors and history with visitors. Known to regulars for his expertise at his shop, Cates has more than 20 years of experience tasting and serving coffee.
“Everyone who works here knows customers by name and has been serving some of them the same order for years,” Cates said. “That is what has built Broadway Roasting Company’s strong, loyal following.”
With two different shops separated by just one block, customers can either enjoy their drink in a traditional coffee shop at the Broadway Cafe or in the old Westport Fire Station-turned-roasting company. Ether way, they’ll find a friendly environment and the aroma of fresh beans.