Disclosure: I did not pay for the coffee mentioned in this article. It did not affect my review.
I recently found out about a new coffee shop, Red-Headed Philosopher, in Kansas City. This time it’s in the Waldo neighborhood (in between One More Cup and Second Best, so maybe this strip of Wornall Road is becoming KC’s “Coffee Mile!”). From the name to the packaging you can certainly tell that RHP is not your everyday coffee stop and visiting Steven’s website is worth the effort so you can fully appreciate what he’s trying to accomplish with his business.
RHP has only been open for about three months. Prior to that, Steven was, like many of us, plugged into the Matrix as a cubicle drone. After winning a home-roasting contest locally in Kansas City he decided to swallow the red pill (sorry for all the Matrix analogies! LOL) and start his own business. He had already been providing coffee at several locations, including Nature’s Own Health Food Market, the Hy-Vee in Mission, KS and at the Crossroads’ Badseed farmers’ market, so there’s a chance if you’ve had coffee at those locations you’ve already tasted what Steven can whip up in his roaster!
RHP shares a small space with canihaveabite, which makes healthy meals that you can order online and pickup at the shop. I just visited her Instagram and it was a big mistake because now I’m REALLY hungry!!! Steven is clearly trying to avoid the massive undertow of business debt that many small upstarts create, so RHP is pretty basic and is growing organically. This makes perfect sense since RHP specializes in organic coffee and makes every effort to source and offer only organic coffee to customers.
When I stopped by last weekend (10/18/14) Steven had a couple of drip pots brewed up and ready to go and was also offering Chemex pourovers. He had a batch of cold brew ready to go and a young woman came in and got an iced Chai while we were chatting, so he has a good selection of offerings. Steven is planning on getting an espresso machine soon so he can offer a wider variety of his coffees, and of course, bagged coffee was available for purchase, too.
Steven offered me a complimentary cup of his organic Mexico Chiapas, which I drank two ways. While he made up a Chemex for the two of us he gave me a small sample of the same coffee done as a cold brew and it was phenomenal. In retrospect I should’ve gotten a cup to go but it was a chilly morning and it just didn’t click for some reason. I haven’t drunk tons of cold brew. I’ve made my own many times and I’ve had Oddly Correct’s Hop Toddy once, but compared to what I have had (which I think has been great), RHP’s was OUTSTANDING. It had this really nice sweetness and body to it and this insane finish and aftertaste of maple syrup, at least to my palate. It was really spectacular and I hope Steven can replicate that on a regular basis. If so, I’m going to convince him to get a bottling line up and running!
From the Chemex the same Chiapas was also pleasant. Once it cooled the flavor definitely opened up and it was a simple, nice, balanced cup of coffee. It struck me as being “low acid” and there were some earthy, cocoa and maybe leather notes sprinkled about. It was a solid cup and it held up even as it cooled to room temp. There was about 4 ounces or so of coffee left in the bag Steven was using and he gave that to me to try at home. The few cups I made at home from it in my Chemex were similar in profile and even with a little over a week of age on the beans it stood up well.
Steven is really into coffee and it was clear to me in our conversation that he has a bigger goal of making the world a better place. We were talking about espresso machines and some of the really high-end ones that are popping up around town and he said, “I think if I had that much money to spend I’d probably rather buy some people who needed it some food.” I suspect RHP Coffee is part of a larger mission of creating community and happiness in Kansas City and that’s very cool to see. Hopefully that mission and the necessity to run a profitable business can balance out and I hope to see Red-Headed Philosopher grow and develop as a business and brand! Steven is well on his way, especially with that amazing cold brew! I will certainly be visiting RHP whenever I’m in the neighborhood, so make sure you stop by, too!