Scroll through the Monarch Coffee Instagram page and you’ll be greeted by brightly-colored coffee bags that belong in a Wes Anderson film. Or maybe you’ll notice the stunning latte art. Or perhaps you’ve stopped at the drool-worthy pastries that grace their breakfast menus. Kansas City’s Monarch Coffee, a husband and wife-run café and coffee roaster, is a veritable minefield of highly-curated aesthetics.
But don’t let your eyes fool you: there’s substance behind the glamour. Food and Wine named Monarch one of the best coffee shops in America, and for good reason.
While the cafe oozes calm and high-class design, Monarch makes a stellar product. They roast all of their coffee in-house and source high-quality beans.
The Design Behind Monarch Coffee
Monarch Coffee was founded in July 2017 by Tyler and Jaime Rovenstine in Kansas City, Missouri.
Quickly, the Rovenstines fostered an inclusive community. They attracted customers who appreciated their vision of accessible coffee. aesthetics, and design.
“We consider our space(s) and our design details part of the overall brand experience,” says Jaime Rovenstine. “Our focus on design is a combination of intuition and intentionality. I intuitively knew the way I wanted the space to look and feel, and it was inspired by cafés in Europe and New York.”
Although Monarch possesses a classic feel. Rovenstine offers progressive updates to the chic café vibe. Pale pinks, soft teals, and gold touches abound both in the physical space and on Monarch’s coffee packaging. The Ravenstines intended to create a modern space that made their employees and customers feel comfortable.
The Specialty Coffee Menu
Monarch’s coffee menu features the traditional offerings. They also offer highly creative, cocktail-inspired brews.
Enjoy the Lavish Mocha (espresso, white chocolate, lavender and milk in a rocks glass with blackberry and gold flake garnish). Or try the Dark Bloom (flash brew, hibiscus tea, lemon, and lemongrass with edible floral garnish).
“Our speciality menu is a collaboration between all of our baristas,” says Rovenstine. “They submit drink ideas and together they taste and develop them as a group.”
The idea behind the specialty drinks menu came from a desire to inspire creativity among baristas and to highlight the skills of the team.
“Tyler [Rovenstine, Co-Owner] was a barista competitor before opening Monarch, so having a menu of specialty drinks was inspired by creating signature beverages for competitions,” says Rovenstine. “Our Director of Coffee, Gisel Alvarez, has competed twice now at United States Barista Competition. Her competition drinks (and espresso) are always added to the menu.”
The Monarch Coffee Packaging
Take a close look at Monarch’s packaging and you’ll notice details about roasting processes, country of origin, tasting notes, and more.
While aesthetics don’t always translate to exceptional coffee, transparency often does. The best coffee roasters share too much information. They include a “roasted on” date. They explain process and elevation. In some cases, you might even find info on the coffee farmer, or harvest dates.
“It’s information that is useful to people who understand what that information means,” says Rovenstine. “Does my Grandma care or need to know if her coffee was naturally processed? No. But to people in the industry, that means something.”
Monarch strikes a balance. They mediate between the people thinking deeply and critically about the ins and outs of coffee roasting and those who simply need a morning cup o’ joe.
Making High Quality Coffee for the Average Consumer
“We really try to reside in a middle ground,” says Rovenstine. “We honor the intricacies of the coffee chain and our fellow coffee nerds, but we’re also approachable enough for the casual consumer.”
Monarch takes great care and pride in their sourcing processes. However, at the end of the day, they provide accessible coffee.
“We have a pretty simple approach to sourcing and roasting,” says Rovenstine. “We have an espresso blend (which isn’t always a blend), and we’re developing a blend tailored for drip coffee. Otherwise, if we like a coffee, we’ll buy it. Gisel [Alvarez] curates all of our coffee offerings. Tyler [Rovenstine] is the roaster, and he works with Gisel to develop roast profiles. Our hope is that we have something for everyone.”
And, for those looking to elevate their coffee knowledge, Monarch created an online coffee buying guide. Before COVID-19, they also offered monthly public cupping sessions.
The Bottom Line on Monarch Coffee
Although Monarch produces a quality product in stylish packaging, they also offer a service to Kansas City.
“I think our biggest supporters would say things that have nothing to do with coffee,” says Rovenstine. “Welcoming. Inclusive. Kind. We really try to live out our values as a company.”
The Rovenstines care about making great coffee and showcasing vibrant design. But, like the most enduring coffee brands, they care most about their customers and community.
“Our staff and customer base is diverse,” Rovenstine says. “We pay our folks a living wage. We are committed to equity and engagement with our community. Our employee retention is very high. And we also have really really good coffee and beautiful spaces to drink it in.”
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