Kansas City, Missouri, and its attendant smaller cities and suburbs, might just be home to some of the most passionate baristas in the world. Companies like The Roasterie, Topeka's PT's Coffee and St. Louis' Kaldi's have helped create a vibrant scene that centralizes itself in the KCMO area. About The Coffee, a mom and pop espresso supply and tech service run by Tooti and Marty Roe, have been called the “Mom and Dad of Kansas City Specialty Coffee.” We can think of few better places to host an event like Barista Nation, a traveling series of talks and demos headed up by Anastasia Chovan and UNIC, offering a day's worth of free lectures, labs, workshops, and food for the coffee community.
Each Barista Nation has a theme and this event's theme was connectivity. Talks and workshops touched on how coffee connects with the community, how to connect with coffee communities, the connection between coffee and cocktails, and the delicious connection between ice cream and coffee.
Barista Nation Kansas City at About The Coffee happened – and Zachary Carlsen of Sprudge was there as a sort of jack of all trades, really: a documenting journalist, a featured speaker, a charmed observer and cultural appreciator, and even the DJ at the afterparty. From a day chockablock with memorable moments, here are twelve particularly exciting things we saw:
Around eighty baristas, shop owners, future shop owners, moms of barista champions, and coffee lovers with their eleven-year-old coffee lover daughters were all present at this free event. Above, Josh Burdett of InterAmerican Coffee discussed the complicated journey from origin to roasters. “I have so much more respect for coffee importers now,” a participant told us after the talk.
Some baristas volunteered throughout the day in pockets of About The Coffee like this.
And shared their knowledge with others.
And made beautiful things.
Baristas who travel to places like Rwanda talked about their time judging international coffee competitions. Up above is Kate Blackman of Parisi Coffee, who judged the Cup of Excellence in Rwanda, and brought back samples of some of the highest quality coffees to share with everyone.
Others volunteered their time at the Curtis brew station, making endless Chemexes with the Gold Cup Brewer.
Midwest coffee luminaries popped in like, Jason Burton (of The Lab) and Tracy Allen (a noted specialty coffee consultant).
Here's Chris Schooley from Coffee Shrub, a well-regarded green importer.
Baristas like Jacque Des Marais taught classes – like this one about coffee cocktails. Ms. Des Marais works for Kaldi's Coffee, and has been a barista competition national competitor and regional finalist.
UNIC's Clayton Jones and Sauro Dall'Aglio tag-teamed on a talk about espresso. Pulling shots of the Unic Stella Di Caffe DCL, they geeked-out and examined the espresso extractions between different shower heads and espresso baskets.
Gregory Kolsto of Oddly Correct lectured on what it takes to make it in the coffee industry. We think Oddly Correct is one of the best small coffee roasters in the United States.
World Barista Champion Pete Licata talked about what it's like to be Pete Licata.
These two, Marcus Boni and Keith Kildron of Kaldi's Coffee, talked about butter cakes and baking in-house.
Dean Kallivrousis and Erin Stillwell, both of Parisi Coffee, competed in the Latte Art Throwdown and won second and first place respectively, and took home fabulous cash prizes, EspressoParts gear, coffee makers, and Baratza grinders.
Check out more Kansas City coverage: