Chow Town

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Black Dog Coffeehouse makes changes under new ownership

10/05/2013 7:34 AM

10/07/2013 5:26 PM

Talk to any coffee lover or professional who’s been around Kansas City for a few years and you’re likely to discover a connection: Black Dog Coffeehouse in Lenexa.

“There are so many people who have been in the past either frequent customers or former employees at BD, who have a real sense of loyalty to it,” said Ben Helt, owner of Benetti’s Coffee Experience in Raytown, which supplies coffee to Black Dog.

I even have a connection — the barista who first trained me had worked there once, years ago, at least one owner ago.

That’s the other thing you need to know about Black Dog: it’s had many owners, each of whom shaped the business to their focus while still keeping the core culture intact — hence the fierce loyalty.

The current owners, who took possession in May, are a family of entrepreneurs who have a history of business acumen and community involvement.

“This coffee shop is very neighborhood-oriented,” said mother Carol Matsch. “We have an eclectic clientele. Our biggest focus is to create a friendly, comfortable place to hang out with great coffee, great food, and lots of fun.”

Live music is a strong part of the culture at Black Dog, which is located at 12815 W. 87th St. Parkway in Lenexa, as are events like game nights and a small community farmer’s market on the doorstep once a week.

What’s changing with the Matsch’s ownership? A lot. Brothers Chris and Matt Matsch are passionate coffee drinkers who have been exploring third-wave shops across the country for several years. By bringing in Benetti’s Coffee and by completely remodeling the coffee bar for a more coffee-centric experience, the brothers are positioning Black Dog to step into Kansas City’s third-wave coffee culture.

Third wave coffee shops are fiercely artisan in sourcing and craft, intentionally minimalistic and obsessively dedicated to handcrafted presentation..

New on the roster are a manual brew bar, a Simonelli machine and a new Fetco extractor for making outstanding drip coffee instead of the $1-a-cup self-dispense option available before. That said, a darker-roasted blend will be available as well as a rotating single-origin list, for customers who prefer it.

In another interesting twist, the Matsch brothers have started a niche bakery. Inspired by West Coast bakers such as Tartine in San Francisco, they have begun making artisan toast to sell with the coffee.

“People go crazy over our bread,” Matt said. “It’s a huge hit. It pairs so well with coffee and tea, and it’s a slow-rise process so people here who have celiac disease or are allergic to gluten, like myself, don’t have a reaction to it.”

The toast is paired with coffee and artisan toppings like local honey and almond butter.

“My family, loving coffee, loves the idea of building a community where people can come and have fun and enjoy something that we all love, share that passion,” Matt said.

Black Dog — tradition and innovation entwined moving forward — is Lenexa’s new café to watch.

Emily McIntyre is a freelance writer who specializes in covering coffee culture. A Kansas City area native, she pursues coffee excellence throughout the country with her husband, a roaster, and her toddler. She also writes her own travel and coffee blog, travelingmcintyres.tumblr.com.

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