For a few years now Kansas City has been slowly turning itself into a city that offers more than just famous barbeque and Oregon Trail history. A thriving art scene and the seemingly endless list of impressive dining establishments has caused long-time residents and accidental tourists to look at the city in a different light. However one thing that Kansas City has been able to count on for two decades now is seriously good coffee.
Broadway Café has been the only game in town for quite a while. Before pre-teen girls began ordering frozen coffee-flavored drinks, even before most of us had our first espresso, Broadway brought proper coffee to Kansas City before Kansas City knew it loved proper coffee.
Pair on-site roasting with one of the most intense barista training programs you’ll ever hear of and then top it off with their obsession over bean sourcing and you get brewed coffee and espresso that takes a different direction. Sweet, sweet crema is what every barista produces after they cut their teeth busing tables for 6 months. And once you taste what is coming out of their massive custom made roaster you’ll understand that quality control is their trademark.
Their espresso is admittedly on the sweet side. Less concern is paid to how fast or slow a shot is pulled. Color, texture, and aroma are the key points. And each barista has a keen understanding of the Broadway Café ideals. While I usually prefer a pleasantly bitter Americano as my drink of choice, I recommend a straight shot from a demitasse.
It’s one thing to have great coffee. It’s another thing to build your own roasting company to supply your customers as well as other coffee shops and cafes in town with fantastic beans. But you’re on a whole different level when you’re the first place to stand up to Starbucks and come out the victor. Somewhere around the late 90’s a few suits from S-Bux came in with a check and offered to buy everything in the space. Right down to the flatware. Broadway refused the offer and a few months later saw a bright and shiny Starbucks open right next door. After years of poaching customers and profits, the coffee giant finally gave up the ghost and shut the location. That’s victory by attrition.
As a city that’s no stranger to cycling events (Tour of Missouri stage host and 2000, 2007, and 2008 CX Nationals host) Kansas City has your café stop covered. Both locations, the café and the roasting company, share a close proximity and I recommend visiting both. The café is quiet while the roasting company is industrious. But more important than the décor of the location is the fact that you’ll consume some of the most enjoyable caffeine around.