Lattes meet lagers in the city where excitement brews for both coffee and beer.
By Emily McIntyre
Beer and coffee were once big business for Kansas City; mega-roaster Folgers opened a downtown plant in 1908 (it closed last year), and macrobreweries like Rochester and Imperial churned out national brew until Prohibition. When coffee and beer went craft, KC re-upped both industries through collaborations that bonded brewer to brewer. Now among the largest craft beer outfits in the country, Boulevard Brewery poured its first Pale Ale in 1989; four years later and two blocks away, The Roasterie began direct-sourcing beans from around the world and employing a rare air-roasting technique that preserves beans’ origin nuances. Together, the neighbors brew what was one of the first (and is still among the most sought-after) bean brews, the limited-release, 9.3%-ABV creamy Coffee Ale, using Ethiopian Sidamo beans, oats and rye. In the city’s fiercely bohemian Westport district, micro-roaster Broadway Cafe serves up artistically poured espresso drinks and coffee classes around the corner from longtime beer mecca McCoy’s Public House, where small-batch house beers soak both the patrons and the sausages. The two collaborate on Toddy, an oatmeal stout so rich and creamy, it’s like malted coffee milk. And just over the Missouri river, small-batch roaster Parkville Coffee (parkvillecoffee.com) and newbie nano The Big Rip Brewing join forces for the sessionable Coffee Porter, on tap only at the brewery’s cozy, industrial tasting room. ‘‘The resurgence of craft beer coincides with a huge growth in the coffee industry here,” says Kansas City’s Pete Licata, a coffee guy by trade and the winner of the 2013 World Barista Championships. “I believe it’s the same passion and love of craft that intertwines our city’s beer and coffee cultures.”