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The Dish: Pour-over coffee spills into Lawrence

Alchemy Coffee is brewing up fresh coffee, gourmet chocolate bars and seriously good cookies.

T. Loft serves 30 blends of tea, plus fresh fruit juice and gluten-free baked goods.

Gourmet chocolate bars from Mast Brothers in Brooklyn, N.Y., are among the decadent sweets sold at Alchemy Coffee in Lawrence.

Alchemy Coffee’s creamy Iced Toddy ($3.75) is made with cold-brewed coffee and chocolate milk from Iwig Family Dairy in Tecumseh, Kan.

Alchemy Coffee in Lawrence sells cookies from Chelsea’s Bakehaus in Kansas City. Shown here: The cinnamon raisin cookie, studded with walnuts and drenched in brown butter glaze.

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Benjamin Farmer has always gravitated toward physically demanding jobs. He’s worked as a tree trimmer, a Fed Ex driver and a diesel mechanic.

But his latest job as a small business owner might be his toughest yet. A month ago Farmer opened Alchemy Coffee at 1901 Massachusetts St. in Lawrence. He’s been working 14-hour days ever since.

The small but already busy neighborhood coffee shop specializes in French press and pour-over, or hand-drip, coffee. The latter brewing method requires 3 to 4 minutes and lots of patience.

The effort is worth it, Farmer says, because the resulting coffee is smooth, never bitter, metallic or overly acidic. So the rich complexity of the beans (Alchemy’s come from Broadway Cafe and Roasting Co. and Oddly Correct in Kansas City) really shines through. That’s important to Farmer, a perfectionist when it comes to coffee.

“This is an extension of me,” he says of running Alchemy Coffee, “so it doesn’t feel like work.”

I’d never tried pour-over coffee before and was surprised at how pleasantly smooth it was, even without milk or sugar.

The brewing process was fun to watch: After grinding Broadway’s Ethiopian Sidamo beans fresh, Farmer carefully rinsed a filter with heated water to remove the paper taste. He poured the coffee grounds into the cone-shaped filter, then slowly swirled on hot water from a kettle. He paused to let them bubble and “bloom,” then continued swirling water over the top until the spotless beaker below was filled with dark, piping-hot coffee.

The coffee pairs perfectly with the handcrafted sweets on the counter. And the saucer-sized cookies ($3) from Chelsea’s Bakehaus in Kansas City could be the best I’ve ever had. They come in flavors like sea salt chocolate and peanut butter bacon.

Dark chocolate lovers will melt over Mast Brothers Chocolate bars ($8-9) from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mocha mania

Other local coffee shops are also serving pour-over coffee with gourmet chocolate: Parisi Cafe, 5245 W. 116th Place in Leawood and Oddly Correct, 3940 Main St., carry bars from up-and-coming Askinosie Chocolate in Springfield. I’m obsessed with the crunchy sugar-vanilla bean bar, but more adventurous types might like the one made with goat’s milk, ancho chile, salt flakes and pistachio.

Hold the coffee

If you prefer tea, sip on this: A new tea and juice bar opened last month at 8025 State Line Road. T. Loft is brewing up 30 blends of tea, hot or cold, as well as fresh juice blends and a bakery case full of gluten-free goodies such as sweet potato brownies.

Joyce Smith contributed to this item.

Sarah Gish writes about dining every first and third week of the month. She also contributes to The Kansas City Star’s new food blog, Chow Town. Contact her via email at sarah@inkkc.com or tweet @sarah_gish.

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