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coffee shop

Javaholic/ Kansas City/ Wanderings

Coffeeshop Love: Nomads Coffee & Cocktails

September 20, 2019
nomads coffee kansas city

In my mind, anything that mentions travel, exploration, and/or wandering (obviously) is immediately worth an investigation. A tribute to explorers — literary and literal — worldwide, Nomads Coffee in Kansas City exactly fits that bill. It would be easy to walk straight past it, nestled in a subtle brick shopfront on eclectic 39th Street. It certainly isn’t the most colorful or eye-catching spot on the street. But that would be your loss. This charming café has become my go-to coffeeshop work spot, and it’s safe to say I’m a little obsessed.

Nomads Kansas City Coffee Bar interior

To fully capture the atmosphere of Nomads Coffee, it’s really best to imagine yourself as a slightly disaffected nineteenth-century writer or a gruff world traveler (or at least following in the footsteps of one). The entire café is a bit dim, with dark wood floors and furniture and deep blue walls. Sophisticated, in an ever-so-slightly gloomy way. Take a spot at the dark-wood bar, curl up in a cushy armchair, or pick an intimate café table and get settled in. My spot of choice is at the bar along the front windows, with a perfect view out onto the goings-on of quirky 39th Street.

Nomads Kansas City Coffee bar interior

To complete the travel theme, shelves throughout the café are stocked with books with a global explorer bent (think Jack London, vintage travel memoirs, old issues of National Geographic). The walls are lined with photos of Alaskan dog races, mountain explorations, maps, suitably gruff explorers, and people and places around the globe.

Nomads Kansas City Coffee Interior

Nomads Kansas City Coffee Bar photo wall

It’s the type of place where you might expect to come across a grumpy older Hemingway ordering a cocktail or a grizzled old explorer recounting tales of his latest expedition into the jungle or Arabian deserts (though in reality the clientele is more on the young and hip side, thanks to students from the nearby KU Med Center and the vibrant culture of 39th Street).

All that said, in reality the café isn’t at all gloomy. Despite the somber (if charming) aura, the staff and customers are always friendly, and the café is usually bustling, classic and peppy oldies tunes playing in the background. (Just absorb the old-world vibes and be glad no one there actually acts like a grumpy old mountain man).

Nomads Kansas City Coffee Cocktails

No literary or global enclave would be complete without drinks, of course! The coffee menu here is classic — none of that foufy frappuccino business — but the lattes are delicious. Plus, there’s also a full cocktail/beer/wine menu (this is an extra plus in my book because it means they’re open late, unlike many coffee shops). If you’re feeling peaky, they have a tasty selection of pastries and cookies, plus quiche, classic and hearty sandwiches, and breakfast burritos. Café fare, but the type you actually want to eat.

Full disclosure: I only tested the ham and cheese croissant, but it was scrumptious — buttery and perfectly flaky, with a subtle spike of Dijon mustard inside — and the rest of the menu looks quite tasty. The quiche is definitely next on my list!

So the next time you’re around 39th Street, wander over to Nomads Coffee for a coffee or cocktail — who knows, maybe you’ll actually run into that rugged world explorer I keep expecting to see.

 

Javaholic/ Kansas City/ Wanderings

Coffeeshop Love: Hammerhand Coffee Kansas City

September 1, 2019
Can someone please tell me where the summer went? Scratch that, where the year went? Seriously, I swear it was just January and I was cheering when the temp hit double digits (now I’m just praying it doesn’t hit triple digits). I don’t know about you, but I’m now counting down the days until fall. Crisp air, colorful leaves, Halloween ghoulies? Bring it on. That said, summer is a time of exploration. Granted, any time is an opportunity for exploration in my opinion, but there’s something particularly carefree and wanderlust-filled about summer. I’ve been neglecting my Kansas City coffee expedition a bit, and I needed an excuse again to wander and think/write/drink coffee 24/7 — or at least justify the amount of my budget spent on coffee by saying it’s blog research. So I decided to make up for lost (java) time. This weekend, that meant a little jaunt over to Liberty, Missouri, to check out Hammerhand Coffee. To be fair, at only 25 minutes from downtown KC, Liberty hardly qualifies as a road trip, but I’m fairly clueless when it comes to north of the city, so it felt like an expedition. Particularly when you factor in that I spent the first hour there hunting down a police station, who called a tow company, who battled my stubborn car locks, because I locked my keys, purse, and phone in my car … but that’s another story.
Ok, on to the important stuff. In case you’re (shockingly) unfamiliar with the small towns of Missouri, Liberty is a historic frontier town just northeast of Kansas City, founded in 1822, and now home to William Jewell College. Think stately brick campus, rambling old Victorian homes, and an abundance of kitschy yet charming shops.
Hammerhand Coffee Kansas City Liberty
Hammerhand Coffee Kansas City Liberty cafe interior
Hammerhand is right in the historic town square, across from the Art Deco county courthouse and surrounded by quaint circa-late-1800s storefronts. Considering all this, it’s surprisingly hip and modern, the type of cafe that wouldn’t be out of place in Brooklyn hipsterland. Housed in a narrow turn-of-the-century brick building, the grand wooden staircase, stained glass window accents, and iron fire escape give it an old-world vibe. Yet the decor is crisp, modern, and colorful — mid-century style furniture, bright white walls, succulents, faux vintage lightbulbs, turquoise touches. In a whimsical nod, there’s even a Chemex with a live beta fish swimming around. It feels like a cross between a homey neighborhood joint and a student study crashpad, with both lively chattering groups and tables covered in notebooks and laptops. Liberty doesn’t feel like a college town, but almost everyone there looked to be under 25, so I would guess the students, as usual, gravitate toward the caffeine sources.
Hammerhand Coffee Kansas City Liberty cozy interior
In the art of full disclosure, the coffee had a slightly odd taste. Not bad, just different. I realized, though, that I haven’t actually had regular milk for quite some time (they ran out of almond), so that might have just been me. That being said, my latte was rich and smooth, and they nailed the latte art (yes, it matters!). The rest of the menu features the standard drip, cappuccinos, cold brew, etc., plus seasonal drinks, housemade syrups, and a selection of pastries. About your usual coffeehouse fare, though it all looked scrumptious. They supposedly also carry a rotating selection of beer and wine, though I didn’t see any sign of that (to be fair, it was also a Sunday afternoon).
Hammerhand Coffee Kansas City Liberty latte art
Overall, the chances of most people just passing through Liberty, MO, is about zip, and most large cities probably have dozens of Hammerhand-esque java joints. That said, it has a certain flair, with its 19th-century-frontier/hipster mélange, and the coffee is pretty damn good. If you happen to be in the KC area, it’s definitely worth a stop.
**This post was originally published in August 2018 on beanopiablog.com.**
Javaholic/ Kansas City/ Wanderings

Coffeeshop Love: Cafe Equinox

August 24, 2019
coffee cafe equinox kansas city

Cafe Equinox

7036 Nieman Road, Shawnee, KS

If you’re not one of us succulent-crazed millennials — first of all, what are you doing with your life? — you might not quite get the draw of a coffeeshop/plant center combo. But once you step inside Café Equinox, I promise you won’t question the genius of the concept. What could be a better pick-me-up than coffee and a little refreshing greenery? Or as their catchy tagline puts it, “caffeine and chlorophyll” (it’s tastier than it sounds). After Thou Mayest in Crossroads closed this year, owner Bo Nelson and his two brothers opened a new outpost, Café Equinox, inside their family’s nursery, Family Tree Nursery in Shawnee. Trust me, it takes more than a little convincing to get me to venture into the ‘burbs, even for coffee, but this trip was well worth it. Named for the best months to work in a greenhouse — between the fall and spring equinoxes — Café Equinox is a revitalizing spot for leaves and lattes alike.

Step inside the front entrance of Family Tree Nursery, and you’ll find yourself in a bright lounge area — welcome to Café Equinox. With a modern yet cozy vibe, the little café hosts a scattering of high-top tables, cushy couches, and even a hanging basket chair for your sipping/lounging pleasure. Or if you’re feeling a need for nature, you can get a little fresh air in the charming patio area, complete with the rusted green locker set from Thou Mayest (or is it only me who has a fondness for that grunge-chic bit of décor?). The space is quiet enough for working or an intimate meeting, but the bustle of the nursery in the background adds a lively hum.

But we’re here for more than cozy — what about that caffeination? Unsurprisingly, Café Equinox’s coffee, made from Thou Mayest’s carefully curated beans, is top-notch. For the bean aficionado, there are a variety of nuanced filter coffee options, plus the classic espresso beverages and teas. If you’re feeling adventurous, the seasonal specials offer a twist (or two). Current specials include the Coconut Lavender Latte, Elderberry Espresso Ginger Tonic, and Caffeine and Chlorophyll (matcha, mint, orange, and yes, chlorophyll). And to keep your java company, try a scrumptious pastry from local Heirloom Bakery & Hearth or Mud Pie Vegan Bakery — everything from scones to homemade pop-tarts. Every Saturday, they even break out the handmade cinnamon rolls. Mouth watering yet?

Once you’re properly caffeinated, venture into the leafy oasis of the greenhouse to peruse vibrant blooms, fragrant herbs, cute pots and planters, and succulents galore. Even if you’re not in the market for a new houseplant or garden tenant (though you will be after stepping in here), it’s worth a wander just for the fun of it. In addition to the vivid greenhouse, Family Tree also boasts over five acres of verdant nursery to explore, plus any plant paraphernalia you could imagine. Or you could just curl up on the couch with your latte. We won’t judge.

**Photos courtesy of Cafe Equinox, @cafeequinox**

Javaholic/ Kansas City/ Wanderings

Coffeeshop Love: Our Daily Nada

August 1, 2019
Coffeeshop exploration Our Daily Nada in Kansas City

 

Our Daily Nada

304 Delaware Street, KCMO

When I first heard about a bookstore/café opening in Kansas City, I knew this was going to become my spot. It’s basically my favorite things all in one charming package: coffee, books, cozy urban hideaways. Spoiler alert: that turned out to be a very accurate prediction. After peeking hopefully in the windows almost daily for months, I happily made it my coffee haunt/workspace of choice to the point where the baristas knew my order the minute I stepped through the door (we’ll credit that to their attentiveness rather than my boring predictability/coffee addiction). In the art of full disclosure, I should mention that I now work at Our Daily Nada — so clearly I’m wholly unbiased here — but hey, that’s how much I love it! You could say I strategically wheedled my way into the behind-the-scenes of the place.

A self-proclaimed “boozy bookstore” — they get points there for both the genius of the idea and the alliteration — Our Daily Nada is nestled in KC’s historic River Market neighborhood in a late-19th/early-20th-century brick building. Think exposed brick walls, wood floors, and tall loft ceilings. The cozy space is decorated with a smattering of colorful vintage furniture, Art Deco-esque globe lights, and cheeky touches (one of my favorite bits is a Frida Kahlo pillow on the couch). There’s even a grand piano in the corner — feel free to sit down and tap out a tune.

The name “Our Daily Nada” is a nod to a Hemingway short story, “A Clean Well-Lighted Place,” which the owners say is “a story in part about everyone needing a place to escape.” And that’s what ODN is. It’s the type of place where drinks come in real cups and the modus operandi is browsing, meandering, gathering together and chatting with friends. Take a moment to thumb through the carefully curated selection of tomes — fiction, nonfiction, used, classics, local authors. Settle into a rose-pink armchair or the increasingly Instagram-famous emerald green couch and lose yourself in conversation or another world (or both). There’s an air of cozy camaraderie and whimsy that feels rare in most places these days. People come in to work or study at the little tables, meet up with friends over lattes (or just as often, a glass of wine or cocktail), or gather for a book club discussion. Come on a Tuesday night, and you can join in on game night —games from Monopoly to Trivial Pursuit are there for the playing. Every weekend they host a kids’ story time, and for Halloween a suitably spooky Edgar Allen Poe reading went down. You never know what the owners — two lovably kooky KC women who are usually around overseeing the shop — might cook up next.

And speaking of cooking, there’s plenty of that literally as well. In addition to coffee and cocktails, Our Daily Nada offers a small but tasty menu of bites and nibbles. Toasts are the main feature — avocado, prosciutto, smoked salmon, or ham and cheese — plus a killer Cobb salad and other small bites. Handmade to order, these aren’t for anyone in a hurry, but they’re carefully crafted and as pretty as they are delicious. (Shoutout to our amazing cooks, Stephan, Tori, and Elana!) And then, of course, there’s the main focus for many: the drinks. Coffee and lattes from local Broadway Roasters, and for happy hour (every night, by the way) and beyond, a good selection of wines and beers and an inventive cocktail menu. Half-Blood Prince, anyone? Yes, drink themes include Harry Potter andGame of Thrones. Cheers!

Ok, so I’m hardly an impartial party here. But really, a book wonderland, tasty coffee and booze, yummy homemade bites, cozy colorful charm, a local woman-owned business — what’s not to like? Come in on a Wednesday or Friday, and you can even say hi to little ol’ me!

Javaholic

Coffeeshop Love: Goat Hill Coffee

July 27, 2019
Coffeeshop exploration Goat Hill in Kansas City

 

Goat Hill Coffee & Soda

811 W. 17th Street, Kansas City, MO


Let’s talk about goats and mochas. What, isn’t that a typical topic of conversation for everyone? Ok, bear with me here. It perplexed me a bit at first that goats seemed to be a theme for coffee shops — the Laughing Goat, Kaldi’s, Goat Hill, etc. As a java nerd, I should have known better. In case you haven’t brushed up on your coffee history, Kaldi was a ninth-century Ethiopian goatherd who noticed his goats bursting with energy after eating some little red berries — and voilà, the discovery of coffee! Or so the legend goes. I don’t know if this was actually the inspiration for Goat Hill Coffee, but I’m going to officially declare the goat the official javaholic mascot in any case (and there’s your history lesson for the day).

Anyway, my mom and I were wandering around KC’s Westside neighborhood — an eclectic area of quirky shops, tiny indie restaurants, and shabby Victorian houses — and stumbled upon an irresistibly seafoam green coffee shop. Well, more like a coffee hole-in-the-wall. Of course, I can never resist a new coffee shop, let alone anything seafoam green, so we had to check it out.

Keeping with the neighborhood’s vibe, Goat Hill is tiny, charming, and quirky. Case in point: pressed tin ceiling, seafoam green details, vintage snow cone maker. Worn wooden shelves lined with vintage tchotsckes (and old-school lollipops for sale) add a rustic look. And when I say tiny, I really mean tiny. The shop consists of a window cove of retro metal chairs at a wraparound bar, plus a few seats overlooking the counter/kitchen area. It probably fits nine people max, plus the baristas. Luckily, that only adds to the charm.

On to the important stuff! Chocolate + coffee = bliss (amirite?) You would think that with a zealous love for chocolate and coffee (ahem), a mocha would be a sure bet for me. Perhaps surprisingly, though, I’m not really a mocha person. Or at least, I didn’t think I was. But this time I wanted something other than your standard latte, so I decided to give the mocha another chance. Spoiler alert: great choice. Not only was my mocha topped with a lovely rosetta latte art (hey, I’m susceptible to a good presentation), it was also delicious — rich, sweet, creamy, and perfectly chocolatey. Goat Hill has mostly basic offerings — you won’t find a frou-frou turtle-butterfinger-marshmallow fluff latte here — but their coffee is top-notch. They also serve Little Freshies snow cones, locally made icy treats in funky flavors like Blackberry Lavender, Spicy Ginger Fizz, and Blood Orange Rosemary. And if you want something sweet to accompany your java, they have a small but mouth-watering selection of scrumptious homemade donuts and pop-tarts. My only complaint is that they have only 8- and 12-oz. latte sizes. Yes, a massive latte is a java afficionado faux pas, but I wanted more mocha — that must be a good sign, right? I suppose I’ll just have to go back…

This post was originally published on my coffee blog, Beanopia, on March 6, 2017.