A cafe title that plays on words like The Filling Station flirts with disaster by leading customers to assume the owners are opting for a clever twist on the necessity of coffee while possibly ignoring coffee quality. Fortunately, the Filling Station has two things going for it. First, this cafe is either located in an actual former filling station or looks like it is (I couldn’t confirm the actual history of the building). Second, the quality of the coffee and the cafe experience is very good. In fact, the Filling Station turned out to be my favorite place to visit during my explorations of Kansas City’s coffee culture.
This first of the two Filling Station locations offers customers a lot to love in a purely aesthetic sense. Aged brick walls, lots of natural light with roll-up doors, a roughed up metal bar front with concrete top, antique-looking jars and attractively designed menus all contribute to a modern design that is distinctively a cafe while paying proper homage to this space’s former gas station life. It helps as well that the cafe is bustling with a steady flow of new, and friendly, people who do things like step out of the cafe to warn you that you’ve left a cup of coffee on top of your car. I could do without the TV, but the volume was down and I barely noticed.
The Filling Station is a dual roaster cafe. Barista’s pull shots of the Broadway Roasting Company’s espresso blend on their four group La Marzocco Linea. Filter coffee comes from another smaller, local roaster, Oddly Correct Coffee. The Filling station provides customers with the choice of both a single origin coffee (Sumatra on my visit) and a house blend, both brewed on a Fetco and stored in airpump pots. You can also, however, order an individual French Press. I opted for the latter.
The coffee they were French Pressing the day I visited was an El Salvador (Villa Espana). I liked this coffee’s buttery, round mouthfeel and brown sugar sweetness quite a bit. It also exhibited a piercing, piney acidity and hickory aroma which was intriguing but struck me as a bit too pronounced for this coffee’s other personality (3+).
My shot of espresso was at least on par, if not better, than the shots I experienced at Broadway Roasting Company’s own locations. As with those shots, it was short, thick and and intense with very pronounced baker’s chocolate notes. The acidity was subdued and reminded me of orange zest rather than straight citrus. Also this shot leaned a bit more towards the smokey, spicy and herbal leaving some more distinctively clove and tobacco notes in the aftertaste. (3+)
While the Filling Station may not have substantially exceeded what I found in any other cafe in the greater Kansas City area in pure coffee terms, they do offer a few things which give them the edge in my book. Multiple roasters (and specifically good, local roasters) with a range of coffee and brew methods is always a strong plus in my book. Also, the cafe itself is a gorgeous place to sit and enjoy your coffee. The bottom line is that the Filling Station is the kind of spot deserving of repeat business.