A Mix of Old and New

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Coffee & espresso, brewed-to-order, pour-over, pastries, cold brew





When you first enter Quay Coffee, the eclectic caffeine joint located at 412 Delware St.[1] in the historic River Market district near downtown Kansas City, Mo., you might be surprised to see “Established 2012” emblazoned on a sign that looks antique.


The sign, like the coffee shop it advertises, is a mix of old and new. Case in point: the distressed wooden case on the iPad that the staff uses to ring in your order and print—or e-mail—your receipt. Quay Coffee might be new to the neighborhood, but its name hails back to an earlier era: when the “River Quay” project was developed with the hope of revitalizing the area. [2]


This 1970s plan to revitalize the River Market as an entertainment district failed when “mysterious” bombings and fires began destroying the businesses. Remaining businesses that were spared by these underworld crimes closed shop due to on-going fears. Needless to say, the name didn’t stick around for long, possibly because no one knew how to pronounce it (it sounds like “key”), or from the crimes that occurred in the area during this time.




The Quay Coffee you see today is very much a product of the neighborhood it calls home. The shop has a local, homespun feel, from the burlap coffee sacks stretched over canvas on the walls to the locally roasted beans (from Westport roasters Oddly Correct). The atmosphere is welcoming: dark wood tables and rich leather couches balanced by bright splashes of color from “Frankenstein” and “The Big Lebowski”-themed art prints. But don’t spend too much time staring at the walls. It’s the coffee, not the ambience, which really shines.


Fans of caffeine cocktails can find them here—the staff will gladly brew you a latte or a cappuccino. If you can stomach the straight stuff, try a brewed coffee or single shot of espresso first. Quay brews each coffee to order, using the slower (but well worth it) pour-over method to craft the perfect cup.


I sampled the Kobiko Peaberry on my visit, a Tanzanian roast the friendly hipsterista suggested. It had “mocha notes,” he explained, smoothing the corners of his stiffly waxed mustache, with a “dark chocolate finish” and a “hint of smoke.”


I don’t know if it’s a testament to the brew or the power of suggestion, but when I took a sip, I could taste exactly what he suggested—dark, bitter cocoa with a clean, bright finish. Quay is the place to go for some of the city’s most complex and well-balanced joe, and you won’t want to miss a thing.