Old World Style
Beaux-Arts architecture, marble floors, people sitting around drinking espresso: all bring to mind the old world coffee houses of Vienna, Prague, or, as it turns out, Kansas City. Although the City of Fountains is best known for barbecue, The Union Station location of Parisi Artisan Coffee features a European style coffee experience with all of the opulence of the gilded age.
Kansas City was once the busiest traffic hub in the United States. But as America’s railways declined, so did Union Station, leading to its closure in 1985. Thankfully, the historic structure narrowly avoided destruction and reopened in 1996 as a shared space featuring a theater, museums, and a model train exhibit that will make you forget you’re not in the fifth grade anymore.
World Champion Coffee
In the specialty coffee world, Parisi is best known as the home of Pete Licata, the 2013 World Barista Champion (read our exclusive interview). Being World Champion means Pete keeps a pretty strenuous travel schedule, but even in his absence the coffee at Parisi is world class. Espressos are prepared on a shiny Synesso Sabre and filter coffee is brewed by hand with Hario V60s.
Like most coffee shops, Parisi has a selection of sweetened signature drinks, but all of the syrups are made in house. Many coffee shops labor to properly prepare pour-overs and espresso, only to offer rather standard, unimaginative fare when it comes to what is likely their most popular beverage. Approachable, well balanced signature drinks create a bridge between craft coffee and the average North American consumer. Plus, let’s face it, espresso tastes delicious with dairy and sugar! We’re glad to see Parisi is giving their entire menu proper attention.
As the name of the cafe might suggest, the espresso blend at Parisi is fairly developed- more developed than I usually prefer. But a coffee can be darkly roasted well, as Parisi proves. In my shot I encountered a rich dark chocolate sweetness supported by notes of tobacco and clove- a spicy, sweet shot that taste great straight, but would hold up well with a little sugar.
My wife ordered a latte, sweetened by the house-made almond syrup. She was kind enough to let me steal a couple of sips, and I found it to be creamy, complex, and well balanced. It’s a sweet treat I wouldn’t hesitate to order for myself – though personally I would prefer the salted caramel sauce!
Parisi Artisan Coffee is a great example of a cafe executing specialty coffee well in the middle of the public square. The rest of America should be jealous residents of the Midwest don’t have to book a flight to get the European coffee experience.
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