After seeing national “best of” coffee lists skipping the entire Midwest, coffee blogger Leanna Bales started a website Many States of Coffee.
Those lists, she said, “didn’t really reflect what I was seeing in Kansas City, which was just this really beautiful coffee culture where I think there’s a lot of movement between coffee shops and community.”
Just when it seems Kansas City has reached its coffee shop saturation point, another one opens. Still, baristas seem to have no shortage of customers lining up for what they’re brewing, and Bales and KCUR’s food critics had plenty of recommendations.
Leanna Bales, Many States of Coffee
- Second Best Coffee — This is my all time favorite coffee shop in Kansas City. I’ve never had a bad drink there; the pour-overs are great and the espresso is delicious. Second Best roasts its own beans and also makes its own breakfast burritos, which are wonderful (my favorite is the rosemary-garlic). There are always really adventurous seasonal drinks, but a permanent flavor that is my go-to drink when I want something sweeter is a juniper blackberry latte. If it’s iced, the juniper flavor is prominent; if it’s hot, then the blackberry comes to the forefront.
- Post Coffee — This coffee shop looks like it was transplanted from Midtown into a generic strip mall in the suburbs, making it an asset to an area that has mostly chain coffee shops. Post Coffee is also a roaster and has a tasting room, with windowed garage doors that roll up when the weather is nice and plenty of seating to work, read, or sit and have a chat with a friend. If you go in the fall, definitely try the apple jack latte or just play it safe and get a cappuccino.
- Crow’s Coffee — This one is always close to my heart. There are three locations around town: the newest one is in Red Bridge; the location near UMKC is always busy, but it has a funky and warm vibe that’s very welcoming; the Crows in Waldo is usually less crowded but has a similar feel. I just tried the pumpkin spice latte there and really enjoyed it. But my usual drink is cold brew, which is smooth and delicious.
- Hammerhand Coffee — This is a cool space in a renovated building off of the main square of historic downtown Liberty. I went to Liberty to watch the eclipse in August 2017 and had about four hours to kill, so I spent it hanging out in Hammerhand trying out its drinks.
- Nomads Coffee and Cocktails — A great place to get coffee or a cocktail and relax. There’s always a mix of people, some chatting with friends and others just working on laptops or reading. The staff is super friendly, and the atmosphere is really laid back.
Mary Bloch, Around the Block
- Messenger/Ibis Bakery — This spot is well known for more than just coffee, though the coffee is roasted on the second floor of this renovated rubber factory. The bakery on the first floor serves beautiful pastries and breads, and a full breakfast and lunch menu. The avocado toast is especially satisfying because its base is a slice of wonderful Ibis bread.
- Monarch Coffee — One of the most beautiful coffee shops in KC, it’s definitely one of the most Instagrammable, with tile floors and a lovely horseshoe counter anchored by a gorgeous coffee maker.
- PT’s Coffee Shop — In the Crossroads, this is the second locale of the original and much acclaimed shop in Topeka. Always on “best of” lists.
- Mildred’s — The owners are on an expansion binge. I recently went to the new location in the Crossroads, where people swear by the bacon.
- Hi Hat Coffee — A tiny little house serving a long list of interesting coffee blends, as well as some hot chocolate, including Azteca Mocha. It’s best in the warm weather months because there’s basically only outdoor seating.
- Filling Station on McGee — I love the vibe and the patio. Always great coffee, but don’t miss out on the food. I especially enjoy starting the day with the Gillham Bowl, with quinoa, radish, avocado and a poached egg. And I always add a dash of hot sauce.
Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine