Kansas City coffee

Farm Forum

Kansas City is a town that’s often associated with such fearsome forces as the Royals and the Chiefs and Hallmark Greeting Cards. It’s also a bustling metropolis where one can openly purchase my favorite mood-altering substance: coffee.

My wife and I recently visited our youngest son, who lives in the Paris of the Plains. Among the places he suggested we visit was a joint called The Roasterie. This business specializes in coffee, so of course they have an authentic DC-3 cargo plane bolted to the roof of their cavernous facilities.

There is a good reason for the aircraft adorning their roofline. And no, it doesn’t have anything to do with a shortage of hangar space at the airport. The Roasterie air roasts their coffee beans and the vintage airplane helps make that point. I think it might have been cheaper to simply stick a sign up there, but what do I know?

You can smell The Roasterie from a thousand feet. The heavenly aroma of toasting coffee pulled me in; my feet barely touched the ground as I floated along on clouds of freshly-roasted coffee fragrance.

We soon learned that the people who run The Roasterie take the topic of coffee very seriously. Java is all they think about.

We took the free tour of their facility. Scores of bulky burlap bags bulging with beans were stacked on immense industrial racks. We were shown some raw coffee beans, which were a sickly pale green. Poor little guys! They needed a vacation in some place that’s nice and warm so they can get some color in their cheeks! And then be lovingly ground into small particles and soaked in hot water.

Our tour guide spoke rapidly and enthusiastically. I suspect this was because the coffee vapors in The Roasterie are so strong, she couldn’t help but absorb massive amounts of caffeine. By the end of the tour, I too was feeling a contact buzz.

After the tour came the best part, namely, coffee tasting. We were told that in order for the roasted beans to be properly tasted, they must first be properly ground. I was shocked to learn that “between your molars” isn’t considered an acceptable grinding method!

I was further appalled to discover that after more than half a century of being a java junkie, I have been brewing my joe wrong!

Our tour guide lady gave an educational coffee making demonstration. The first thing she did was dump a measure of freshly ground coffee into a smallish cup. She then added hot water; we were told that the ideal temperature is just a smidge below boiling. This seemed similar to cowboy coffee, or egg coffee minus the egg.

We were informed that the proper method was to let the coffee steep for exactly four minutes. Who can wait that long? I need my caffeine NOW!

Our guide then demonstrated the method that professional coffee tasters employ when sampling coffee. Using a teaspoon, she scooped off the foam and grounds that were floating on the surface. She then took a spoonful of the luscious auburn liquid, placed it to her lips and slurped it in a very noisy and decidedly unladylike manner. We were told that this how one aerates the coffee and whooshes it across the palate.

This was a stunning revelation. As a child, I was told that it’s impolite to slurp. All those years of slurping shame have been for naught!

The tasting process is called “cupping” and the coffee tasters at The Roasterie might “cup” 20 to 30 coffees per day. Talk about a dream job! We weren’t introduced to any of the tasters, though. My theory is that their super-elevated caffeine levels cause them to move so fast that light can’t keep up.

Following the tour and the tasting, we repaired to the bar area where friendly baristas offered more free samples. For me, this was like turning a kid loose in a toy store and telling him he could try one of each. Gimmie!

They also had coffee making devices for sale. Some looked as if they had been designed by Rube Goldberg while others were as simple as “hot water goes in here, coffee comes out there.”

We finally bid adieu to The Roasterie, but only after purchasing several pounds of souvenir beans. When we got back to the car, I noticed something.

“Whoa!” I said to my wife. “My clothes and my skin reek of coffee! I won’t have to shower for a week!”

“Fine,” she replied, “You can just go up onto the roof and sleep in that airplane.”

If you’d like to contact Jerry to do some public speaking, or just to register your comments, you can e-mail him at: