PT’s at the Crossroads – Revisited

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IMG_4153For many coffee cognoscenti, PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. needs no introduction. Operating from Topeka, KS since 1993, PT’s has been sourcing and roasting top-notch coffee since before it was cool! Earlier this year, PT’s opened a café in the Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City, MO. The Crossroads is a hip, yet inviting neighborhood in Midtown Kansas City, full of great galleries, shops and restaurants, so it’s a fantastic place for a coffeeshop.

The space was formerly home to the Crossroads Coffeehouse, a place I never had the chance to visit, although I think I experienced what was leftover when PT’s first moved in. I had heard a lot of buzz about PT’s when they opened in the Crossroads, so I zipped over there one day and was not impressed, at all. It looked kind of discombobulated inside, the baristas seemed poorly trained or untrained, no one seemed to know what they were doing, and the coffee was so-so. There was no signage, it was hard to tell who actually was occupying the space because Crossroads Coffeehouse stuff was still up on the walls, yet there were bags of PT’s coffee inside. It was off-putting, but at the same time there were signs up announcing they were closing to remodel for a while, so I figured I caught them at a bad time.

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I found myself downtown on a stunning late October morning (10/25/14) and decided it was time to give them another shot since they’d been open the better part of a year by now. Plus, I’d seen on Slayer’s (maker of incredibly high-end espresso machines) Twitter feed that they’d installed a new espresso machine at PT’s in the Crossroads. When someone spends as much on an espresso machine as most people spend on a car, you know it’s game on!

I was pleased by the aesthetics both inside and out, which I’ll get to later. The young woman behind the counter was friendly and knowledgable and I inquired about what I guess is becoming my signature drink, a cortado/Gibraltar. I asked which espresso they were serving and she said she could use any one of three, but recommended PT’s Southpaw blend, which she said she had “dialed in” and was perfect for small milk drinks. This was obviously someone who cares about detail and quality and so I was sold immediately.

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My drink was nicely poured and it tasted good. The espresso had some nice acid bite to it, but not enough to give the milk a “sour” character, which I have found to be the case on my mini-cappuccini when they are made with espresso that is just too bright and overly third wave. It had nice sweetness and was a pleasure to drink. What more can I ask?

As for the re-design, it looks great. The outside sign is cool and there is plenty of space on the wide sidewalk for some small café tables and chairs. Inside is mostly exposed brick with a nicely laid out merchandise wall right when you come in, a large bar front and center, and a finished accent wall on the other side of the space. I’m a sucker for bare concrete floors and PT’s has them.

Windows make up the entire front of the café so there is a ton of natural light inside, and lots of seating at nice, big tables with a bar along the windows for people-watchers. The tables are strips of mismatched wood, which I liked, and the seats are mostly those metal Emeco-style “Navy” chairs (all metal, originally used on submarines and ships) powdercoated a nice off-white color. The chairs are comfy and the whole place has a warmly industrial, very inviting vibe.

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In my book, PT’s totally redeemed its Crossroads location. You don’t earn and keep a solid reputation in the coffee community by being “just OK” so was optimistic for my return trip and I was not disappointed in the least. PT’s is committed to sourcing great coffees, roasting them right, and training good baristas to get it into our bellies and I think they are meeting that mission with their café here in Kansas City. Now I have yet another excuse to come to the Crossroads!