Reputable Roasters in Out of the Way Places

Name: Take Five Coffee Bar
Location: 5336 West 151st Street, Leawood, KS
Roasters: Zoka Coffee Roaster and Tea Company

Rating: 3

Take Five Coffee Bar seems to fit into a familiar mold when thinking about Kansas City coffee. Like Black Dog Coffeehouse, it’s a decent café, but far away from Kansas City proper. Also like Black Dog, the reason it captured my attention is the roaster. Take Five serves coffee from Zoka Coffee Roasters, which is perfectly plentiful in the Pacific northwest where Zoka is based, but seems an unlikely find in what is essentially the geographic center of the continental U.S. (Then again, Zoka has branches in Japan!)

You’ll find Take Five down in Leawood, which makes it a good option if you happen to be staying at one of the hotels down near the Sprint Campus, or, I should add, if you actually live in this far reaching suburb of Kansas City. And by the way, if you are visiting the Kansas City area, the Sprint Campus is pretty interesting. It may be designed to resemble a college, but for me evokes a military for with 20 or so 4-5 story, uniformly designed buildings, spread across a considerable bit of land.  The place is enormous and offers an unusual perspective on corporate America.

Take Five is located in what seems to be an upscale strip mall surrounded by some sizable homes. The space inside is impressive, with several big cushy chairs, a few booths, and quite possibly a fireplace if my memory serves me correctly. It has a new, suburban, luxury-home feel that’s not exactly my cup of tea, but which I have to admit was nice. The leisure-inspiring appearance of the interior (I sadly didn’t get a photo) also makes more sense when you consider Take Five’s menu (which includes a selection of food and alcohol), their late hours and musical performance calendar. In other words, Take Five is really something closer to social gathering space than some might argue a place with Coffee Bar in it’s title should be.

For coffee, staff pull shots of espresso on a three group La Marzocco Linea and serve a French Pressed house blend that’s not the ultra dark roast you might expect to find in other cafes nearby. The barista said – I think – that the blend was comprised of mostly, if not entirely, of Central American coffees. I enjoyed the little taste I had but didn’t note the details. You can also purchase bags (but not brewed coffee) of beans by local roaster, Oddly Correct.

Instead of the French Press, I selected Take Five’s pour over option. The setup is similar to the one I’ve seen at Greenlake Zoka in Seattle – a little two cup drip stand with a ceramic Melitta cone. You can choose from about 6-7 different coffees. I went with the Rwanda.

As with Black Dog, I seemed to get a cup of lackluster Rwanda. This time, though, the issue wasn’t age or choice of brew method, but seemingly one of technique.  The coffee in my cup was bright with distinct notes of lime and green tea, but very much underextracted. I was left with a decent tasting but way too thin-bodied, watery cup of coffee (2+), which I might have considered returning had I not been halfway out the door by the time it was cool enough to taste.

Take Five did better with the espresso, using Zoka’s Paladino blend.  My shot was too top heavy – too sharp rather than too bright may a better description given its celery-like crispness and bitterness.  Nevertheless, it was complicated and nicely layered with some citrus notes, raspberry jam undertones, a medium body and a slightly syrupy mouthfeel. (3)

Take Five certainly deserves some credit for setting up a far more complicated and ambitious coffee service that one would ever expect to find in the suburbs of Kansas City.  Hopefully, I happened to hit them on an off morning and that if you go, the preparation will be a little better.  Still, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better cup of coffee down in this part of the greater metropolitan area.

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3 comments to Reputable Roasters in Out of the Way Places

  • Susan

    I just discovered your blog and find it very interesting. However, if I am not in Kansas, but am in the Bronx, where is the best place to find a good cup of coffee? The map on your site does not seem to cover all of New York City. Do you know if there is a site that does? Thanks very much.

  • Natalie Kumaratne

    I like how you were descriptive on the taste of the coffee. You mentioned how the shot of espresso tasted, and you compared it to something we all know, the feeling of biting into a celery. Through your writing, I can tell that you are experienced in coffee tasting, and therefore you can gain the trust of your audience. I also liked how you explained why you gave the shop the rating that you did in your post.

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