In the Land of Lattes, the Espresso isn’t Bad

Name: Latteland (CC Plaza/47th and Zona Rosa)
Location: 318 West 47th Street, Kansas City, MO and 7251 NW 86th Place, Kansas City, MO
Roaster: Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Company

Rating: 3/3-

Latteland is a local Kansas City Coffee chain without the trappings of your usual chain coffee.  At least, that’s my quick assessment based on a visit to two (out of seven) of Latteland’s locations earlier this fall.  I stopped at one of the two Latteland locations in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza and another located in hybrid subdivision and shopping mall Zona Rosa (the kind of sterile, fake business district filled with chain stores and entirely new housing).  Both spots had a clean and polished interior design that, while not overly inspiring, seemed pleasant, modern and something of a cross between a lavish Starbucks, Crate and Barrel and a Froyo den.  More importantly, the form and function of both cafes was similar enough to unite them as members of the same family without making them seem like identical twins.

The coffee menu at both locations was similar, but varied slightly.  Both establishments use coffee from Kaldi’s out of the St. Louis area, which is a high quality, reasonably local roaster and much of the reason I gave this chain a chance.  These two branches of Latteland are well-equipped to pull shots of Kaldi’s Espresso 700 blend on their La Marzocco GB/5s.  Brewed coffee consists of a dark roasted blend brewed on a Fetco and stored in a thermal carafe.  The Country Club Plaza location also offers a medium roasted house blend and the option of your choice of coffee brewed via French Press (supposedly all the shops except the one in Zona Rosa offer a French Press and some offer the second coffee choice). Bagged coffee in both locations completely lacked roast dates.  Although this oversight belongs to the Kaldi’s, staff weren’t able to tell me the roast date or even the arrival date of the shipment.

The Zona Rosa branch espresso (below) edged out the shot I had at the Country Club Plaza location (above), but only ever so slightly.  Both were thick, short shots, with enduring crema and a chewy, but not syrupy mouthfeel.  I got notes of baker’s chocolate in both espressos.  The Zona Rosa shot also exhibited some cherry, orange and black tea notes with a slight citrus fruit pith bitterness (3) while the Country Club Plaza shot was marked more by lime acidity and came across as slightly sour (3-).

I decided to skip the brewed coffee at the Zona Rosa shop given that they only had a dark roasted coffee available.  At the Country Club Plaza shop, I opted for an El Salvador on the French Press.  It was a round full, slightly bright yet earthy coffee.  It wasn’t particularly complicated flavor-wise, but it delivered a very pleasing, silky, milk-chocolate like texture and was overall well rounded and complete (3+).

As a reasonably prolific chain that doesn’t roast its own coffee, Latteland seems to go a step beyond what might be expected in terms of their choice of roaster and brewing options, with the exception of the Zona Rosa shop.  Despite some flaws, they do a decent job with their coffee and seem to be more or less on par with, if not better than, many other Kansas City area cafes brewing coffee from reputable roasters with national reputations.

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