KC Made: How The Roasterie in KC influenced specialty coffee worldwide

This is the story of how a poor roaster in a Brookside basement became The Roasterie, and ultimately a global influence in specialty coffee.

KC_The Roasterie Cafe

The Roasterie factory moved to its 27th Street location in 2006.

Photo by KCtoday

The Roasterie is one of Kansas City’s oldest craft coffee operations. It started in 1993, roasting coffee in a Brookside home. This year, the brand has 13 stores and is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Here’s the story of how one local began with a machine in his basement and ultimately became a global influence in specialty coffee.

Basement beans to global boards

KC_The Roasterie first roaster Brookside basement

Danny’s first roaster and converted basement, circa 1993.

Photo by The Roasterie via Trozzolo.

By the time founder Danny O’Neill had his first roasting machine installed and his basement up to code, he had about $1,000 to his name — but The Roasterie was born. A year after “knocking on doors all day, every day,” Danny had another employee and his first headquarters — at 1519 Cherry St., KCMO.

Over the years, Danny led the charge on local partnerships and relationships with coffee producers — plus, highlighting single-origin beans and the names of its farmers.

“No one was really doing that,” said Isaac Hodges of FairWave Coffee Collective. “He’s done things that kind of steered the direction of where specialty coffee was heading.”

Ultimately, the comopany grew, and Danny ended up serving as president of the Specialty Coffee Association of America — a nonprofit that unifies the global standards and practices behind high-quality coffee.

Thinking in terms of decades

Photo of The Roasterie canning station

Expect canned almond milk lattes coming soon.

Photo by KCtoday

“I love it when brands turn decades and you celebrate decades of life,” Isaac said. “What do we want to do for 30 years? [...] What really has brought The Roasterie into this point is the community that has surrounded it.”

Celebrations this year will include a parking lot party and giving back to 30 local nonprofits (to be announced in June).

As for the next decade? Consistency for coffee, support for local brands, canned lattes, and more cafés.

“We’re in 13 cafés now. We’re adding two more in the next three or four months on the Roasterie side,” Isaac said. “Hopefully grow our café footprint to 20 or so.”

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