Kansas City is an established Midwestern coffee landmark, home to a wide range of coffee experiences for drinkers of every level of expertise. This coming weekend, the city will welcome coffee lovers and professionals from across the United States for the U.S. Coffee Championships at KC Expo Center. Whether you’re a competing barista or just visiting town and looking for caffeine, the Kansas City metro contains dozens of quality choices for coffee connoisseurs and newbies alike.
The metro area’s coffee scene is as diverse as the numerous suburbs and unique neighborhoods that it encompasses. It even crosses state borders, reaching into both Missouri and Kansas. The city has cafes that embody the quirkiest of Midwestern culture as well as outlets featuring just a good ‘ole cup of coffee, and in this way, Kansas City is a representation of how the Midwest is making its mark on the specialty coffee industry.
In this guide, we lay out the featured shops, recommended spots, and don’t-miss destinations from the city’s thriving coffee culture. You’ll find that Kansas City embodies both Midwestern charm and big city dreams, with a passionate community of coffee hospitality professionals and an experience for every taste. Let’s get drinking!
Quay Coffee (pronounced “key”) is a cozy, comfortable space tucked in Kansas City’s River Market district, located just north of downtown. The shop, the only multi-roaster on this list, features a rotating hand-selection of some of the nation’s best coffee. On any given day, the black letterboard announcing the brews available could list roasters like Hammerhand Coffee, based just a stone’s throw away in Liberty, Missouri, or Upper Left Roasters based in Portland, Oregon. Coffee offerings rotate every four to six weeks.
A stop at Quay pairs best with a walk through the Saturday Farmers’ Market or a visit to any of the City Market’s destination food offerings.
Messenger Coffee Company
Since opening in fall 2017, Messenger Coffee Company has become a Kansas City coffee destination. Located inside a stately brick building, the vibe here is art museum meets coffee shop. A modern floating staircase invites you to the second-floor roasting space, coffee lab, and classroom alongside additional seating; keep going, and the third floor offers a quiet area with access to the rooftop. Come here to catch expansive views of the KC skyline from the heart of the Crossroads district while sitting next to the outdoor fireplace.
Be sure to check out the pastry case while you wait to order drinks. It’s filled with creative Ibis Bakery creations like fresh takes on classic croissants and mouthwatering desserts like the red wine brownie.
Broadway Cafe and Roasting Company is widely regarded as a pioneer of third wave coffee in Kansas City. Located in the city’s lively and historic Westport neighborhood, Broadway Cafe is just a stone’s throw from some of KC’s favorite eateries and late-night hangouts. You can’t miss the cafe, with its striped awning and classic sign, right off of Broadway.
Inside the cafe, Broadway presents a no-frills espresso menu showcasing its coffee. Baristas sling espresso ristretto-style from a La Marzocco Linea machine set behind a high-top counter. Snack on a light item from the pastry case, like a sandwich or slice of cake, while sipping your drink. Settle in for an afternoon of Westport people watching from the cafe’s sidewalk seating, or sit inside and admire the eclectic art hanging from the warm tan walls.
Aside from the quintessential cafe space in Westport, you can grab a cup of Broadway Roasting Company coffee at the cafe located inside the roaster or at many of the Kansas City-area shops brewing Broadway.
Second Best Coffee
Tucked unsuspectingly in a strip mall off in south Kansas City’s Waldo neighborhood, you’ll recognize Second Best by its giant eagle logo stenciled on the window. This open and minimalistic space presents a charming mix of modern clean design and homy nostalgia, with sleek black tabletops and white subway tiles paired with wood fixtures and vintage books. The name is meant to be cheeky: “Second Best” refers to the cafe’s continual focus on innovation and application.
The menu features manual brews, made exclusively using a Clever dripper, as well as classic espresso options. A seasonal menu offers more inventive drinks, like the winter favorite 511, a shot of prototype espresso over ice and AE Dairy eggnog topped with shaved Askinosie white chocolate. For a chilled option, try signature Red Ribbon Nitro plain, with milk and vanilla—called a Fred—or with milk and cinnamon, a Zip Zap.
Black Dog Coffeehouse
Black Dog Coffeehouse is the only shop on this list located in the state of Kansas. The coffeehouse encompasses a large footprint in Lenexa, Kansas, a prominent suburb on the western side of the metro. Both coffee nerds and newbies can find something to suit their liking at Black Dog.
Black Dog serves Messenger Coffee, roasted just 13 miles north in the Crossroads district. An espresso-forward menu can be intimidating for those new to coffee; not so at Black Dog. A specialty latte menu provides options for those who don’t take their coffee black or need something a little sweeter. Coffee options find a home alongside a smoothie selection and Rishi Teas.
At Black Dog, you won’t have to worry about finding a place to sit. The space features three distinct seating areas as well as a large patio. It’s the perfect place to spend the day working, reading or socializing with a continuous flow of provisions.
Post Coffee Company
Post Coffee Company is one of my favorite spaces in KC. Located in Kansas City suburb Lee’s Summit, it feels far away from the city’s hustle and bustle. This bright and luminous shop with white-finished wood accents and polished concrete floors provides a subtle slate for creative coffee and work. The result feels almost retreat-like.
Post offers a straightforward menu—including batch brew, pour-over, iced and espresso options—that highlights the flavors and characters of Post’s own coffee, roasted on-site. Come for a coffee but don’t miss the donuts!
Also Worth Visiting
It’s impossible to highlight all of the outstanding coffee shops in KC’s varied and burgeoning coffee scene. I’d also recommend checking out Monarch Coffee, Oddly Correct, Eleos, the Roasterie, PT’s Coffee, and Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters, which currently doesn’t have a location but just opened an inventive greenhouse space in partnership with Family Tree Nursery called Cafe Equinox.
Lauren Miers is a food writer based in Columbia, Missouri. This is Lauren Miers’ first feature for Sprudge.