The Roasterie

The Roasterie is a Kansas City original, started by the Bean Baron, Danny O’Neill, in his basement in 1993. It has since grown into one of the most recognizable brands in the metro area. It’s well known for it’s DC3 plane on top of its downtown Factory facility just off Southwest Trafficway.

If you’re at all interested in coffee – drinking it, roasting it, the history of it…- I definitely recommend taking the free factory tour.

They know how to run with a theme.

Anna, our tour guide, showed a brief video before demonstrating quality testing and leading the tour through the production floor (the only one in the franchise).

What makes Roasterie coffee unique is that it is air-roasted, meaning it’s cooked through the use of hot air, like a convection oven, rather than in giant drums, leading to a more evenly roasted bean. The Roasterie also only roasts what the company needs for that particular day, providing some of the freshest coffee around.

Roasting on the Production Floor

The coffee, which is hand-picked from the highest altitudes (top 2%), is dried and the green seeds are harvested from the pods, which are then sent to California. Once sent to KC, 80% of it is sold in the metro area. The other 20% is split primarily between universities (i.e. KU uses Roasterie coffee exclusively) and online sales.

Dried coffee cherry (left) and green seeds (right).

The Roasterie has 3 certified coffee cuppers, who test for quality and consistency by using worksheets to determine ten points on 12-14 cups at a time, all day long. Cupping is a test done by brewing the coffee in a manner similar to using a French Press (only without pressing it), with water that is 200 degrees for four minutes. The cuppers then remove the grounds from the coffee and slurp the coffee like a wine taster would in order to get the best flavor.

During our tour, The Roasterie sampled their coffee of the week: the Brazil, along with two of their reserves: the Democratic Republic of Congo (my personal favorite) and the Ethiopian.

The history of the company along with the straightforward method of air-roasting coffee daily and using on the highest quality of beans makes The Roasterie stand out. Even if you don’t make it to one of the tours, or missed it during The KC Caffeine Crawl, I definitely recommend stopping in one of their cafes for a fresh cup, or by your local grocery store for a bag of beans or box of single serves in order to enjoy the Bean Baron’s great product.*

*Side Note: The Roasterie Professor Bean, Simeon Bricker, recently won the U.S. Latte Art competition in Seattle and competed in Australia for the world title.


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