For the past 25 years, The Roasterie has been sourcing the world’s best coffee beans from countries around the globe, building personal relationships with farmers who operate small, local coffee farms. Those beans are then air-roasted to perfection in Kansas City and sold to coffee lovers here and beyond.
It all started when founder Danny O’Neill picked his first bean in Costa Rica and fell in love with coffee. In 1993, he air-roasted his first batch in the basement of his Brookside home, forever changing the coffee culture here in Kansas City. To keep up with demand, the business has expanded since then to nine successful cafés and a state-of-the-art production facility that is crowned with the iconic DC-3 aircraft. The aircraft honors the city’s aviation history, exploration and spirit of adventure, and is named after O’Neill’s mother, Betty.
O’Neill says he drinks an average of 25 cups of coffee a day. His favorites include their light bodied Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and their new exotic 25th Anniversary Blend that’s crafted with a heavy body and notes of blackberry, cherry and subtle cocoa undertones.
“The Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is probably one of my single all-time favorites—it smells and tastes just like blueberries. The 25th Anniversary Blend is one of the top blends we’ve ever created as a company. It’s absolutely extraordinary. It might just be the best one we’ve ever done.”
Visitors can see the complex art and science that goes into selecting, roasting and packaging their coffee by taking a tour of their facility. O’Neill says the most interesting thing guests learn is that it’s an objective experience.
“The one [comment] I get the most is people thinking it’s subjective, but inevitably they end up realizing that it’s really objective, that they themselves can tell the difference and easily determine what coffee they like. That makes a big impact on people.”
Over the past 25 years, The Roasterie remains true to its core values.
“It’s always been about the team: one bean, one dream, one team. Everyone is there to help, and it’s always been that way. Philosophically, we haven’t changed—we still feel like the sun rises and sets on Kansas City and our customers as it always has. We’ve sought to become part of the social fabric of Kansas City and a part of people’s daily lives. We want to serve you wherever you are and be out in the community supporting the Children’s Mercy’s and KU Medical Center’s of the world with a focus on helping kids. We’re part of a lot of charities and functions to raise awareness. It was an inspiration to become that, and what’s changed over the years is that we’ve become part of the social fabric in a servant type of way.”
O’Neill has a special connection to the Leawood Roasterie, which opened in November of 2010.
“We were only going to do one café in Brookside, but we heard from so many people who said they wish we’d come to Leawood. We asked what the community wanted in a café and got great input, from local art, hours of operation, and a custom Leawood blend. If you were to go to our Leawood store versus any other store, you’d see they’re different, and I think that has everything to do with the community and the impact and input they’ve had with us. It’s really a relationship. It’s the most heartwarming experience for me personally. Hopefully, everyone feels that way, too.”
The Roasterie is celebrating its anniversary all year long with Food Truck Brunch Sundays at The Factory lasting through October, an evening with O’Neill at Johnson County Community College on September 27, public cuppings, First Fridays at Corrigan Station and many more. O’Neill is most excited about Quixotic and their collaboration with Hy-Vee.
“The biggest event is Quixotic—they’ve created a totally custom show for us with live music, dancers and acrobats on September 8 across from our Factory location. There’s also Hy-Vee’s 30th year in Kansas City, so we’re doing a custom coffee and label with them. Just having them want to take part in the whole operation and celebrate collaboratively is really meaningful to us.”
For more information on events, factory tours, and its complete line of coffees, visit theroasterie.com.