Parisi Artisan Coffee has long been a powerful force in Kansas City. They, along with the Roastarie, are our big hometown coffee roasters. And like the Roastarie, they decided to open a shop to show off how good their coffee is. However unlike The Roastarie Café, Parisi Café decided to hire a chef as well to make intricate sandwiches, salads and fritatas.
I’ve had the pleasure of sampling Parisi Café twice now, once a few weeks ago with a friend and then earlier this week at their PR event. First up, the standard Service / Atmosphere / Coffee review:
When you approach Parisi Café from across the wide Union Station, you’ll notice something right off the bat that’s different from most coffee shops: the staff. There’s tons of them. Fed up with your regular shop having a line 5 people deep just to place your order? That’s far less likely to happen here. The counter is low, wide and inviting, meaning that as soon as you enter their space, someone’s already taking your order. And although it takes a few minutes to get your cup of coffee, you don’t feel ignored. More on why it takes a few minutes later.
Atmosphere is a mixed bag. Like I said earlier, the counter is prominent. Its also all white, clean and bright with a cool blue-light effect. Seating’s a bit of a problem though. To get to the seating you go along a narrow hallway to an area that feels almost completely different. There’s a lot of it, and there’s some black and white photography here and there, but the comfy element is missing. Granted, they didn’t have a lot of space to work with, Union Station’s floor plan is more or less set in stone. The fact they crammed a kitchen, cafe counter and some seating in there is impressive, but they could take a few more steps to make it more soft and inviting and connect with the image they project from the front.
The coffee is, to put it succinctly, sublime.
Oh, you want more detail? Fine.
- A standard cup of coffee here is brewed by the pour-over method. That means each cup is brewed individually. The beans are ground by the cup too. Then they very closely control the temperature and speed at which the cups are brewed to get the most smooth flavor out of the grounds as possible. Consider it a human-Clover. This takes about 3 minutes to do right, thusly the small wait I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. I had a big cup of this at the PR event and it was, as I said, smooth and flavorful. Had the flavor potency of an average espresso pull while still being a full cup. Winning.
- If you’re in a hurry and 3 minutes is too long, they’ll brew you a french press coffee.
- The mocha I had was just right. No collected chocolate syrup on the bottom, good flavor mix with a good espresso pull at its base.
- The double shot espresso I had was the highlight of all of the coffees. I’ve had an ongoing mission to find the perfect ristrestto shot, comparable to those I’ve had in Paris and Rome. I have found it. My friends, if you want relive your lazy afternoons in Paris, Parisi is the place. Mission accomplished. Unfortunately there’s not a cozy spot there to really dig in and enjoy the afternoon like one would in Paris, but at least the coffee is perfect.
- The Bangkok iced tea was refreshing. The ginger peach Italian soda was both sweet and light. And even though I didn’t have their regular teas, apparently they use a “trifecta” for tight control on temp and steep time. Another guest told me their house-blended chai was perfect.
As for the PR event, they were mostly showcasing their chef and their foods. The two teas I mentioned above were presented as well as the pour-over coffee. I was surprised they didn’t focus more on the coffee, but perhaps that’s what they’re overall going for here; they seem to want to be more of a restaurant-cafe than a coffee-only cafe and this was their attempt to push that viewpoint. So it would be rude of me to not talk about their food too for a moment.
I sat at a table with Lunch Blog KC guys Robert Bishop and Matt Shaw, I suspect you’ll see a review from them on their blog soon too.
- The turkey brie apple butter sandwich was the best of the bunch. I couldn’t put it down. Reminded me a lot of Mildreds’ turkey brie marmalade sandwich, but better.
- The bacon and blue salad was delicately conceived and prepared. Good huge chunks of bacon, nice touch of scallion. The smooth yogurt in the dressing completed the composition nicely.
- The roasted squash sandwich with kale was tasty. There were grilled mushrooms somewhere on there, but I lost them, the sweetness of the squash overpowered the savory I was hoping for. Overall, still a wonderful sandwich though.
- The gelato with pumpkin caramel sauce was a great dessert. Super creamy, more than I usually expect from gelato.
The menu is seasonal, so you’ll get to try new creations all year long. The chef knows what he’s up to, all the stuff I had was great.
They talked a lot about good food pairings for coffees and they used the word flavor profiles, but I didn’t see much direction in the store on how to pair your foods with teas and coffees. I hope they plan to publish some pairing recommendations, but at the moment their menu doesn’t have anything like that. Hopefully it wasn’t just PR talking and that becomes a reality.
TL;DR: They have perfect espresso shots (Mission accomplished!). Swing by for a coffee of any type, maybe even have a small business meeting or lunch there.