Despite several recent trips to Kansas City, I have yet to manage a pilgrimage to Topeka to visit the highly reputable P.T.’s Coffee Roasting facilities and café. The trip to Topeka from Kansas City is much farther that you might think when casually viewing a map, especially when your time is not your own.
Much more depressing than not being able to make this trip, however, has turned out to be the realization that almost no cafe in the greater Kansas City area uses this roaster’s spectacular coffees. In fact, it’s easier to mail order P.T.’s coffee to my house, halfway across the country, than it is to find a café in a city just an hour and a half from where it’s roasted. Pardon my squiggles, but this is seriously @#%$@# up.
My denial and outrage eventually came through for me. After considerable effort, I discovered Black Dog Coffeehouse, which technically resides in Lenexa, Kansas, a considerable ways outside the heart of Kansas City. Black Dog proudly serves PT’s coffee, and, as far as I can tell, is the only café in the Greater Kansas City area to do so.
Despite being located in a strip mall, Black Dog coffee does its best to counteract its sterile suburban surroundings by embodying its coffeehouse moniker. The inside is dark despite a plethora of windows and the outdoor seating off to the side seems to be used more for smoking than actual outdoor enjoyment, which makes sense when you consider the uncertainties of Kansas City weather (Auntie Em, Auntie Em). The chalkboard menus hang high over the bar and a series of wooden tables and couches off to one corner seemed near full to capacity with students.
For espresso, Black Dog uses P.T.’s La Bella Vita blend, which they pull on a two group Nuova Simonelli that I was unable to identify. I sadly have never had a shot of of this blend so I’m giving my first impressions. I noted brown sugar and tart stone fruit as well as some tea-like floral notes. It was a chewy, slightly grainy shot but had a thick crema and was easy going down (3).
When it comes to drip, Black Dog seems to be trying to please all of the people all of the time. Of course, this smorgasbord is likely needed to sufficiently one up its chain shop competitors (after all, in the midwest, more is always better). I counted five airpots with coffee brewed on their Fetco. Three of these – a dark roasted Sumatra, a dark roasted house blend, and a flavored coffee – were never under consideration. Ultimately, I decided against the medium-roast Costa Rica, which I imagine was probably quite good, in favor of the lighter roasted Rwanda.
The Rwanda was a lovely, clean coffee with bright citrus acidity and notes of lemongrass, but the flavor was somewhat lost in stale airpot that left me really wanting to taste this coffee’s full potential (3).
It’s worth noting for all you seekers of good coffee, that Lenexa is not exactly close to downtown Kansas City. In other words, only the more committed tourist would probably make their way out this far for a cup of coffee. Besides, there are some equally compelling options closer in (such as the Roasterie and some soon to be blogged about locations). You can always mail order the PT’s for later.
Still, there are a good number of hotels down in Overland Park and Leawood. If you happen to be staying there, or if you happen to actually live in the area, then Black Dog is certainly a stop worth considering.