To say I was excited to learn that Kansas City’s newest coffee establishment is opening right across the street from where I volunteer two afternoons per week is a huge understatement! And to learn that I could pick up a bag of their first coffee before the shop was even open was icing on the cake! Getting seriously back to my KC roots this morning with Monarch’s La Pradera Colombia. Let’s check out this new new!
Pick this coffee up locally from Dear Society (same price)
MONARCH LA PRADERA COLOMBIA
Today we’re looking at the first offering from Kansas City’s newest not-even-open-yet coffee roaster and shop, Monarch (not to be confused with Kansas City’s Blue Monarch, whose coffee I reviewed recently, too!). This coffee was STELLAR, but I have a fair amount to say about Monarch, too, so skip down a few paragraphs to get right to the cup if you’re in a hurry!
Monarch was founded by Tyler Rovenstine and his wife, Jaime. Tyler is somewhat of a coffee rockstar here in Kansas City and I met him years ago when he was with Oddly Correct when that business was first opening up. Tyler has a 12-year history in specialty coffee including being a barista, Q-Grader (a rigorous certification) and barista and Brewer’s Cup competitor. Tyler was a finalist in the 2013 south-central region and in 2014 he became south central champion! Like many coffee pros in Kansas City, Tyler started out in this city at The Roasterie before his tenure at Oddly, then he moved on to Quay Coffee, a greay multiroaster shop in the River Market neighborhood.
Tyler and Jaime have set their sights high, aiming to provide, “a new cafe experience where the coffee is excellent, the service is intentional, the space is inspiring and your visit is satisfying and comfortable.” I’m really excited to see what is in store for the space, which I’m even more excited to know is a block from where I work two afternoons per week! Monarch will occupy 1700 sq ft on the ground floor of the Ambassador Building in the Valentine neighborhood around Armour and Broadway. The plan is to have bar ordering and then servers will bring drinks to your seat. Tyler also plans on batch brewing filter coffee instead of doing pourovers, a trend that is starting to replace the ubiquitous (and inconsistent) pourover bar in many specialty cafes. They plan on featuring black, white and accents of gold in the interior and making the space more gender-neutral than the often masculine vibe many cafes often have. My only gripe in their aesthetic is how minimalist their coffee bag is, and with that cool crown logo I sincerely hope they’ll at least emboss it on the bags in the future! But, hey, minimalism is the trend, although a blank bag with a gold seal on it is REALLY minimalist! LOL
I was recently lamenting not having gotten my hands on as many Colombian coffees this year, so I was pretty excited to see this was a Colombian coffee when I ran across the street to Dear Society to buy a bag. Today’s coffee is from Finca La Pradera in Santander, Colombia. The coffee is organic and Rainforest Alliance certified and La Pradera grows most of its coffee under shade. This selection from green imported, Olam, consists of Colombia, Caturra and Castillo varieties grown in the 1750-1950masl range. It’s a washed coffee, as you’d expect from Colombia, and Monarch gives us taste notes of, “grape, maple syrup, peach, caramel, round body.”
I used my standard brewing method of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral brewer using Kalita 185 filters. I set my Handground grinder on 3.5 and also brewed this up with Third Wave Water’s water treatment product using a base of distilled water. TWW tends to bring up the acidity and brighten the top end of coffees and I think it adds a lot of clarity to the cup, too.
Man, this is a cool and unique coffee and what an initial offering from Monarch! First sip was loaded with red/purple grape flavors right in the front end of the sip as well as strongly into the finish and aftertaste. I’m not the best at perceiving grape in coffee, so I would consider this a grape bomb because it’s clearly there, to my palate! The coffee almost has a grape soda vibe to it. Grape flavors in coffee often come from tartaric acid, which is commonly found in wine, too. In addition I was getting a lot of malic acidity from this coffee, like a crisp green apple. Taking small sips and swallowing immediately I was hit with a fruit-flavored balsamic note. I wouldn’t say that I was getting acetic acid or straight vinegar, but there was a definite savoriness and something really reminiscent of a flavored (cherry, maybe) balsamic that was really interesting and unexpected. Holding the sip in my mouth for a while really enhanced the grape notes in this cup and as the coffee cooled, it took on some really peachy notes. I love finding peach in coffee, so I was excited about this, too!
This is definitely a coffee that rewards patience and letting it cool and open up is well worth the peach notes that came forward. I found this to be a very complex and unusual (but not weird, off, strange, etc) coffee that was a delight to drink. There was so much clarity to the cup and structure to the flavors. It was crisp and refreshing but also sweet, clean and delicious. Grape, balsamic and peach are all somewhat elusive notes in coffee, for me, so it was cool to find all three of them in the same cup in a way that worked. While the unique acidity played a major part in the enjoyment of this coffee, for me, it was all tied together by a super sweet, almost sugary base, and I loved that, too.
I had high expectations when I learned that Tyler was opening his own coffee shop and this first roast offering greatly exceeded them! Fantastic job and I can’t wait to see the shop when it opens! Kansas City!