1. Downbeat Coffee and Tea
Looking for a Café Cubano, jazz music, art and a quiet place for meetings or studying? Downbeat Coffee and Tea on 39th Street is often my short list of weekly coffee stops. Owner and barista Emily Madison is knowledgeable about all things coffee and can whip up Café Cubanos that are amazing. They have such a good reputation around town that Cubano latte fans make pilgrimages to Downbeat for the drink. Downbeat inhabits a space on the second floor of a turquoise house at Roanoke and 39th (Gia’s grooming is downstairs). It has a similar vibe to Mud Pie, which is located just down the street.
The space has tables and a sofa, frequently rotating exhibits of art on the walls, and music (often jazz, reggae, and similar). Downbeat sells vinyl records and a variety of merch, including t-shirts, fridge magnets and more. A good source for your 39th Street swag.
Downbeat Coffee and Tea is one of the few coffee shops in the Kansas City area to have a regular schedule of events in the evening. It’s unusual that KC coffee shops don’t have evening events, as this is common in other cities. Events at Downbeat include classes, meet-ups, craft nights, and a regular movie schedule. One ongoing theme is “Bad Girl Cinema,” which features pre-code Hollywood movies with famous actresses. Around Halloween, the shop screens “Freaks” and similar classics.
Downbeat also has a selection of teas and is one of the few places in Kansas City that brews a delicious yerba mate.
1200 W 39th St #2, Kansas City, MO 64111, 9am – 6pm, Tuesday – Saturday
2. Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffee
The house on 39th street that houses Mud Pie has been home to several coffee shops over the past few decades, but Mud Pie has become an institution, spinning off a second location in Overland Park. The place has the neighborhood shop vibe, but it is a nationally recognized vegan bakery. Their baked goods are some of the best in Kansas City.
The coffee at Mud Pie is top notch and the baristas are friendly and very helpful. While you won’t be able to get any dairy products for your coffee, the vegan alternatives are totally up to the task of being a delicious part of any coffee drink.
The vegan baked goods are amazing and are recognized nationally. Sweet pastry options include cupcakes, bundt cakes, bookies, blondies, bars, muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, pop tarts, croissants and more. Mud Pie frequently has savory baked options like cheese, sausage and eggs biscuits, cheese scones, bagels and kolaches.
The shop has abundant seating on two floors, in small rooms, plus tables on an outside patio. It’s very conducive to studying and those of us who work from wherever we park our laptops. Given the amount of seating, you never feel guilty about taking up space. Mud Pie is great for small meet-ups with friends and family. They also have a playroom for little kids.
1615 w 39th Street, KCMO 64111, Mon – Friday: 7am – 8pm; Saturday: 8am – 8pm; Sunday: 8am – 7pm
7319 w 95th Street, OPKS 66212
3. Broadway Cafe
This Westport feature is Kansas City’s coffee shop institution. Great coffee, friendly baristas and always busy. I consider it to be one of the few places where I’ll run into people I know. A big city coffee shop with a small town feel. Great place to work, study, talk to people at the next table, find out about events or engage in people watching.
Broadway Café serves coffee from its roasting facility, the Broadway Roasting Co., which is located up the street. They also provide coffee to other shops like Sister Anne’s (see below). Many of my coffee fanatic friends around K.C. tend to agree that Broadway’s coffee is the best in town.
4106 Broadway St., Kansas City, Missouri 64111, 7am – 9pm
4. Sister Anne’s – Records and Coffee
While it’s mostly a record store, Sister Anne’s is also very much a coffee shop. Relatively new to Kansas City’s coffee scene, Sister Anne’s has a neighborhood vibe and adds an important coffee option to a neighborhood that is a coffee desert. Located in a corner store front on East 31st Street, the shop has tables next to the windows, while the rest of the space is devoted to vinyl records, collectibles and zines. As a long time zinester, I’m pretty excited that the space has a good selection of zines for sale. During one of my visits, where I met with a friend and bumped into another friend, I bought a copy of the last print issue of MaximumRockNRoll.
Sister Anne’s features coffee from the Broadway Roasting Co. On both of my visits, I had mocha lattes, which were excellent. Sister Anne’s serves the neighborhood where I started drinking coffee in around a decade ago. I’m a latecomer to coffee appreciation, having avoided coffee for most of my early adulthood. Ten years ago, I was involved with the infoshop that operated around the corner on Troost. One of the services we offered to visitors and community members was free coffee. As the person who made up many of the free pots each day, I started drinking coffee for the first time.
Sister Anne’s also functions as a show space. Buy a latte, a record, a zine and take in a punk show. Kansas City needs more spaces like Sister Anne’s.
901 E 31st St, Kansas City, Missouri 64109-1444
5. Monarch Coffee
A relatively recent addition to the Valentine – Hyde Park neighborhood is Monarch Coffee, located about two blocks north of the Uptown Theater, on Broadway. Bright and somewhat minimalist in design, Monarch has become a popular spot for people living and working in the neighborhood. They have a range of seating options, including small fee standing tables, a long community table, and a handful of booths.
Monarch has a basic selection of coffees and teas, all prepared in house. Their current Fall menu includes specialty drinks like the Sweet Potato Latte, Smoked & Spiced Cider, Pear Cardamom Shrub Soda, and the Northwest Red Eye (Emissary espresso, plum butter syrup, & hot water).
They also have a good selection of pastries and other snacks. Monarch hosts evening events, tastings, yoga and story hours. A very kid friendly space.
Staff are very friendly and helpful. They’ll even bring you out some fresh water and give you your own carafe of water.
3550 Broadway, Kansas City, Missouri 64111, Daily 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Martin City Coffee – This is a new coffee shop on Holmes Road in Martin City. I’ve visited it twice and find it conducive for meetings, work, lunch or breakfast, and hanging out. Doesn’t look that big on the outside, but it is the Tardis of coffee shops on the inside. I’ve had their mochas both times and was impressed. They also have an extensive breakfast and lunch menu with a range of vegan and South American options. Looking for arepas? Put Martin City Coffee on your list.
- Crows Coffee — This easily could be in my top five, but I haven’t visited it in several years. Used to be a frequent customer of their original South Plaza location. They now have expanded to Waldo and Red Bridge. Great coffee, friendly and knowledgeable staff and always a full house of customers, giving Crows a great community vibe.
- One More Cup – Recently closed, but deserves a shout out for being one of those small, cozy coffee shops with a friendly staff. Waldo and Kansas City will miss this place.
Didn’t make the list? Chuck will be visiting and reviewing other coffee shops in coming months.