By Jeremy Martin
It may seem like something you’d see on a daytime HGTV show, but in this case it’s a whole hell of a lot cooler—that’s because this story of property renovation is all about one of the nation’s best coffee companies: PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. in Topeka, Kansas.
When PT’s Coffee acquired a storefront that had been previously used as a café in Kansas City, the 20-year-old roaster-retailed owned by Jeff Taylor and Fred Polzin had grand plans for turning the shop at 310 Southwest Boulevard into the perfect spot for great coffee and espresso. They just didn’t want to waste a whole lot of time getting it ready.
“The café that was there before needed freshening up. We bought an existing café and wanted to make it our own… change it into something we wanted it to be,” says Taylor, PT’s co-founder and president. “We virtually gutted the previous design and rebuilt it and opened three days later.”
That’s right: Three. Days. Later.
Granted, the company had been designing the space they now call The Crossroads since March, and working off site building tables, piecing the bar together, and accumulating artwork all the while. But to gut an existing coffee shop on a Friday and re-open with a whole new layout that next Monday took quite a bit of foresight and vision.
“We had it all designed, we spent the first two months working with the architect to redesign the space the way we wanted,” Taylor says. “We wanted to use as many secondhand and recycled components as we could. We have tons of pallets, we’re bringing in 10 pallets a week of coffee,” Taylor said.
So the very pallets which carry green coffee from producing countries to the company’s roasting facility in Topeka were used to build the new coffee bar, as well as frame furniture, hang as decorations, and structure other parts of the new café, which was pieced together over the course of three days by Taylor, Polzin, and a team of staffers.
PT’s also received a great deal of help from Marty Roe, who owns Kansas City’s beloved About the Coffee (a service company and distributor) with his wife, Tooti. Marty helped with electrical, and Second Life Studios, a design firm that assisted with layouts and interior design.
Taylor says he likes the way the pallet wood design links the processes of production and consumption together, and notes that it plays nicely with the company’s ideals of buying, roasting, and serving coffees that are sustainably produced and traceable.
But The Crossroads wasn’t just going to be about terrific coffee; Taylor and Polzin have high standards for the food served at PT’s cafés, as well. Still, the food program at this particular location has a neat tie-in with coffee.
“We’re working with one of our coffee producers whose sister is a chef. We’re bringing her in for 10 days and she’ll help revamp our menu,” says Taylor. “Her family works on a farm that we buy coffee from.”
The final piece of the rebuild, however, wasn’t available during the early May grand opening: A custom Slayer espresso machine. That piece of puzzle just just recently arrived.
“The problem was, you have to order months in advance to get one, and we didn’t time it quite right to have the Slayer arrive at the same time as the remodel. We had to wait three or four weeks to get it in,” Taylor says.
However, now that it’s installed and up and running, Taylor, who is planning to move from Topeka to Kansas City, said PT’s can begin looking towards the future and reflecting back on this experience.
“We never stop learning. Every time we do something, we reflect back on it and the mistakes we’ve made. That’s part of what’s kept us fresh, hungry and energetic about the coffee industry.”
The Crossroads, located at 310 Southwest Boulevard, Kansas City, is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeremy Martin is a freelance writer and photographer who has reported on coffee, craft beer, college sports, and business for a variety of publications over the past six years. A veteran of the café industry and graduate of Western Michigan University, Jeremy lives in Seattle where can often be found making sandwiches from whatever is left in the fridge and cracking wise for the amusement of his adoring wife Amanda.