3550 Broadway, Kansas City, MO
One of the top benefits of being a notorious javaholic is that people know to inform you immediately about new coffee spots. That’s how, thanks to some highly exclusive intel, Monarch Coffee came onto my radar early on. The petite café had only been open a couple of weeks when it started attracting attention in the KC coffee scene (us trendsetters made it in shortly after opening, of course), and the acclaim has held strong. When we stopped by on a Wednesday afternoon, the place was bustling — so much so that we almost had to chase away a few tea-drinkers for a table (just kidding).
Anyway, for someone who dreams constantly of Paris (ahem, guilty), it’s hard not to like this café. Monarch has the look of a hip Paris bistro — black and white subway tiles, white molding, dainty café tables, intimate booths. Chill and elegant, with just a bit of cute thrown in (let’s just say there are a few unicorn decor items around). Tucked into the lower level of the regal Art Deco Ambassador apartment building, it seems to fit perfectly into a glamorous 1920s scene, with an added touch of hipster coffeehouse. (If only you could walk out the door and see the Eiffel Tower). Even if you’re not an Art Deco nerd, the bright and airy space is perfect for sipping a leisurely cuppa. That said, it probably doesn’t make for the best workspace. Like I said, it was busy (and chatty) when we were there, at a hubbub level that would have distracted me, and holing up in a dark corner to get work done might be difficult.
Despite the newborn café, the Monarch owners are no coffee neophytes. Owner Tyler Roverstine, a Q-grade barista (think sommelier for coffee) has worked at the Roasterie, Oddly Correct, and Quay coffeeshops in KC and has won awards at several barista competitions. Monarch sources and roasts its own coffee, which is also sold in the café and online. All of this should add up to some pretty good coffee, right? And luckily, Monarch doesn’t disappoint. An iced and a regular latte (complete with lovely latte art, of course) both checked out. My iced latte was made with oat milk — which apparently they’re moving toward using exclusively — which was a new one for me. I think I prefer my usual almond milk, though the latte was still quite tasty. Unlike most coffeeshops, Monarch serves most of its drinks dine-in and hand-delivered to your table — part of a philosophy of “intentional service” focused more on the customer. One area that could use improvement (and would no doubt cause any true Parisian to frown) was the food. The food options were pretty limited, and though that’s hardly an anomaly for coffeeshops, the “berry” scone (it wasn’t berry, it was bacon and cheese) was a little dry and clearly had some identity issues.*
You might have noticed that I had a lot more to say about the Monarch space than the coffee itself. Take that as a clue. The coffee is good, but I wouldn’t deem it KC’s best latte, and I’m not sure I’d come back regularly for the coffee alone. For the charming space and opportunity to pretend I’m in a Paris cafe? Definitely.
*Since opening, Monarch has paired with 1900 Barker in Lawrence for baked goods, and it has been a while since I’ve been by, so to be fair, they might very well have upped their nosh game by now.
**This post originally appeared on my coffee blog, Beanopia, in July 2017.