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Food Critics: The Best Coffee Shops In Kansas City In 2018

One More Cup

Kansas City's coffee shop scene has really blossomed over the past few years.

In addition to coffee and tea drinks, a number of shops have also been serving great food: pastries made in-house, breakfast, light lunches and grab-and-go snacks.

From quiet spots to linger to more convivial spaces to meet up with friends, KCUR's food critics searched out the best coffee shops in and around Kansas City.


Here are their recommendations:


Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

  • Quay Coffee at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Hard to beat having a cup of coffee in the beauty of a museum, right in front of the Gates of Paradise.
  • PT's Coffee at the Crossroads. It’s a great little spot serving really good coffee.
  • Messenger Coffee + Ibis Bakery. Love the look and feel of the place. Part café, part roastery, part bakery. Fabulous coffee, bread and pastries.
  • Crow’s Coffee in Crestwood. Great coffee, convenient location for meetings. Always filled with people from the neighborhood.
  • Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters. Not only good coffee, but a funky little café with comfortable seating, as well as a full bar.
  • The Sundry. Full breakfast and lunch items, to-go items, pre-packaged items. Complete bar. Located in the new Westport Commons space. They’re re-doing the roof, so you can take your coffee or your cocktail upstairs.
  • 1900 Barker in Lawrence has the best pastries and breads.
  • Monarch Coffee. I love that place. It’s a gorgeous space. It’s loud enough that you can have a private conversation and not be overheard. It started selling pastries from 1900 Barker, which is a definite plus in my book.

Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:

  • Mana Bar: Exotic Beverage Lounge. Brand new! Located in the former Westport location of Sheehan’s Irish Imports, Mana Bar makes and serves its own kava drinks. Kava is a mood-altering tea made from a root that is native to the islands of Polynesia, Hawaii and Micronesia. The bar also makes its own kombucha and offers a variety of teas and coffee drinks that can include a shot of kava. Each variety of kava has its own effect on the body. Some are more relaxing, and some can be mildly stimulating and mood-lifting. Mana Bar makes its kava from scratch, importing fresh kava root from farms in Fiji, Vanuatu, Hawaii, Samoa, and Micronesia. Take a walk on the wild side and get either a pour-over or an espresso shot with a kava shot and a flavor shot to keep you naturally relaxed and/or stimulated all at the same time.
  • Pilgrim Coffee Company. When you find a locally-owned coffee shop in the suburbs that delivers all of the swag and panache as the hotspot downtown coffeehouses, you sing its praises. Pilgrim Coffee is a family-run operation located in the Metcalf 127 Shopping Center. Its large footprint makes them the perfect spot to check emails or host a meeting. Tanner Stevens, the nephew of the owners, is one of the founders of Quay Coffee in the River Market, and he now co-owns Post Coffee Co. in Lee’s Summit. He supplies Pilgrim with Post Coffee beans, and they also serve locally owned Shang Tea and pastries from Scratch Bakery. Get your favorite coffee drink (mine is a cortado, which is espresso with a small amount of steamed milk), a key lime pop-tart and get some work done.
  • Filling Station on McGee. The guys that own Messenger Coffee on Grand also now own The Filling Station. Their midtown location recently underwent a nice makeover, both in terms of the space (which now has a killer outdoor patio) and the food menu, which was recently re-imagined by chef Josh Eans from Happy Gillis. The food menu now sports some killer grain bowls, sandwiches and hot breakfast items while serving delicious Messenger Coffee. Get the Everyday Bowl (kefir, cooked quinoa, banana, blueberries, toasted sesame seeds, spiced honey and peanut butter) and pair it with a cappuccino.
  • Café Europa Union Hill. There is something about this coffee bar that I just love. With talented baristas ready to make your favorite coffee drink using Oddly Correct beans, and some of the most delicious pastries, breads and desserts made right on site, why would you “coffee” anywhere else? They have plenty of room around the coffee bar to sit in the morning, with plug-ins for your laptop if you are stopping in to get some work done in the afternoon. I like to get either a black cup of coffee if I am enjoying a sweet treat with my coffee. If I am just drinking coffee, I enjoy their lattes with house-made syrups (I love the caramel one) that change with the seasons.
  • One More Cup. This cute little coffee shop has been an institution in the Waldo area. It’s known for using a rotating selection of local coffee beans and for its creative selection of specialty coffee drinks, in addition to the standard cup o’ joe. They use only Shatto Milk for their dairy and their flavored milks make for some fun drinks, like the Curious George (espresso, chocolate milk and banana milk). For an afternoon buzz, try the Cali-Cola — Mexican Coke with a shot of cold brew toddy in it. It will rev you up for the rest of your day!
  • Nomadson 39th Street. Part early morning coffee shop and part evening neighborhood bar, Nomad’s is whatever you want it to be. A nice atmosphere with big windows let in plenty of light into this well-appointed space where you can work, read or relax. Order the barista’s drink of choice: The Gibraltar. The brainchild of Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco, The Gibraltar is a double-shot of espresso and a bit of milk, served in a small Libbey "Gibraltar" tumbler. Order that and a chocolate or almond croissant, and you are golden.
  • Caffetteria in the Prairie Village Shops. Jo Marie Scaglia’s new brunch-o-teria is the perfect place to stop in for a pastry and your favorite coffee drink. The last time I was in, she suggested her cappuccino, which is served in one of the largest mugs I have ever seen. It is big enough to swim in. She paired it with an old-fashioned donut from Hana’s Donuts, and it was dunking heaven.
  • Made in KC Café. This little space on Baltimore, formerly a lovely old hotel, is not only a retail shop selling all things made in and by people in KC. The Made in KC Café is a full-service coffee shop that uses Messenger Coffee Co. for its espresso, and it will rotate 10-12 different types of beans from Kansas City roasters for its cold brew, drip and iced coffee. On weekends only, the café serves “Café au Oui,” or coffee in the spirit of “yes.” Basically, it's a cereal milk latte where they soak favorite childhood cereals in oat milk, then strain it and use that flavored milk in a latte. I tasted one made with Apple Jacks cereal. Delicious.

Charles Ferruzza, food writer:

There is a difference between "coffee shops" (which are often diners serving traditional home-style food and coffee) and "coffee houses," a term that first came into vogue in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a casual venue for live performances, but without the expensive necessity for liquor, which would have required a nightclub license and liquor licenses.

My favorite coffee shops remind me of the sleek hotel cafes and neighborhood dinettes of my teen years: Cheap, good coffee (no fancy drinks like espresso or lattes), cheap breakfasts and great greasy grilled items, like patty melts with extra grilled onions.

  • Village Inn, a Mission standard since 1967, is as close to the perfect 1960s coffee shop as the Hawthorne Grill in the movie Pulp Fiction (which has been sadly torn down in the last few years). Here are the qualities that make it perfect: The staff all look like they should be in a movie. The coffee is served in a pot left at the table. There’s a big refrigerated pie case at the front entrance. Coffee is free when you’re waiting for a table. It is the only place in the metro to get a chicken fried eggs benedict (chicken fried steak on fluffy buttermilk biscuit halves with pepper jack cheese, grilled tomato and two eggs any style. It’s covered in red-eye hollandaise sauce and topped with chunks of grilled sausage).
  • Niecie’s Restaurant is a beloved neighborhood soul food restaurant with mugs of good strong coffee, great service and fantastic daily specials (oxtails, lasagna, baked chicken with dressing). It also serves solid breakfasts, including chicken and waffles and the Sunrise Breakfast Special (coffee, toast or biscuit, one egg, two strips of bacon for less than $5).
  • Cascone’s Grill in the City Market. Timeless family-owned diner with a huge, stainless steel coffee tureen filled with the hottest, strongest java. Great moderately-priced breakfasts, lunches and early dinners. You’ll be amazed how many cups of coffee you can drink here. Best pancakes in town. Closes early.

Listener recommendations:

Jen Chen is associate producer for KCUR's Central Standard. Reach out to her at jen@kcur.org and follow her on Twitter @JenChenKC.

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