Things are changing in Kansas City’s beverage scene. Recent relaxation of area liquor laws have sparked the birth of at least four new craft breweries in the city, with more in the works.
But it’s not just the beer culture that’s exploded in Cowtown: Specialty coffee, always a strong contender, has reached national prominence with Kansas Citian Pete Licata’s 2013 win at the World Barista Championship and with such media-savvy micro-roasteries opening as Oddly Correct and Benetti’s Coffee Experience.
Elly Goldstein, district manager for The Boston Beer Company and certified cicerone, says, “When you take a look at how both have developed, it’s natural that KC has become such a good market for craft beer and coffee in the past 10 to 15 years.”
Goldstein, who worked at The Roasterie before joining the beer world, says that he approaches the two beverages in exactly the same way, and he tends to go for strong, unapologetic flavor profiles: “With coffee, I tend to like higher-acidic, more fruity coffees. Lots of African coffees. With beer, I gravitate to hoppy beers. I’ve developed a love for bitter high-IBU beers, so a lot of pale ales, IPAs and imperial pilsners.”
Licata is another Kansas City beverage personality who enjoys coffee and craft beer.
“Kansas City is full of down-to-earth yet passionate people. When we enjoy something, we really get into it. The resurgence of craft beer and breweries currently going on also coincides with a huge growth in the coffee industry here. I believe it is the same passion and love of craft that intertwines our city’s beer and coffee cultures. For as large of an area as KC is, the population is quite low. That means that the community is more easily connected, which also means that it is really easy to have a great interaction between industries.”
Licata enjoys similar sensory aspects in beer and coffee, such as brightness, mouth-feel, sweetness, bitterness, balance and aroma. He celebrates a personal ritual called “Books & Brews,” which entails reading with any form of brew, whether it be coffee or beer.
Kansas City is receiving increasing acknowledgment across the country for its craft beverages scene, and the intertwining of coffee and beer just goes to show that good taste breeds good taste. It’s a happy mixture.