Founder Danny O’Neill’s love affair with coffee was sparked when he picked his first bean in 1978, as a foreign exchange student in Costa Rica. O’Neill began roasting hand-selected beans from small coffee farms across the globe in November 1993, in his Kansas City, Missouri, Brookside neighborhood basement. But the company’s upward trajectory didn’t take long, thanks to the lanky, espresso-swigging entrepreneur’s work ethic, passion, determination and affection for the city where he set up his first roaster.
Building a unique coffee and client experience
Fast forward to 2018 —The Roasterie is considered Kansas City’s best-known, premier coffee purveyor—and not just because of the iconic DC-3 plane positioned for takeoff atop its Factory off Southwest Blvd. With nine coffee shops strategically located on both the Missouri and Kansas sides of Kansas City, The Roasterie air-roasts coffee beans daily to service hundreds of wholesale customers across the region and thousands of coffee aficionados who flock to the cafés for signature Roasterie blends, specialty beverages, Cold Brew, Nitro Cold Brew, teas and more. Proprietary Roasterie blends are sold in grocery stores across the Kansas City metro and people from across the country order custom blends, coffee beans from over 20 origin countries, merchandise and more from the company’s website. Each week hundreds of visitors take The Roasterie’s tour for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it takes to roast some of the best coffee on the planet.
Farmer- and customer-centric
O’Neill was fond of describing his mission in 1993 as a quest to “find the best beans on the planet, roast them daily in the best way known to mankind and get them to our precious customer as fast as possible.” Twenty-five years later, that passion for the perfect bean continues as O’Neill develops meaningful relationships with farmers across the world who cultivate small coffee farms and are laser-focused on the end product.
“These farmers don’t know our customers, but they know me, our team and our expectations,” O’Neill says. “We have high standards—our customers have set the bar for us over the years.”
James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Smith, chef-owner of Michael Smith Restaurant and Extra Virgin in the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District, was one of The Roasterie’s first customers in 1994, when he was executive chef and corporate chef at Kansas City’s iconic The American Restaurant. O’Neill made a sales call to Smith and noticed an imported Italian coffee was being served to patrons.
“Danny looked me in the eye and said, ‘That coffee is good, but do you know when it was roasted?’” Smith recalls. “It was more than just a pitch for business—it made sense. He told me he was roasting beans early in the morning and would deliver some to the restaurant. Next morning, there he was on the doorstep, with freshly roasted coffee beans. The difference wasn’t just discernable, it knocked me off my feet.”
The Roasterie’s American Restaurant proprietary blend is still a best-seller in grocery stores and online, along with Smith’s 40 Sardines blend, developed when he owned a restaurant in Leawood, Kansas, before opening his two Missouri restaurants. He serves The Roasterie today because “guests always remember the last things they ate or drank at a restaurant, which is usually coffee and dessert. The Roasterie’s coffee is always superb. And they still deliver the fresh-roasted, custom beans to my restaurants today.”
Setting the stage for KC’s coffee scene
The Roasterie Air-Roasted Coffee set the scene all those years ago for today’s vibrant Kansas City coffee culture.
“Danny has expanded his business over the years with careful thought to innovation, collaboration and quality and his efforts certainly laid the foundation for Kansas City being known as a place to get an excellent cup of coffee,” says Chef Jasper Mirabile Jr., proprietor of Jasper’s, one of Kansas City’s oldest Italian restaurants. “When Jasper’s wanted to upgrade our coffee program, we went to The Roasterie for assistance in creating an exclusive blend. Serving The Roasterie Jasper’s blend in our restaurant—which is backed by consistency and a high level of customer service—is something customers appreciate. The coffee reinforces the attention to detail we give our cuisine and the guest and aligns with our own philosophy of serving nothing but the best.”
Coffee, community and collaboration
O’Neill doesn’t attribute The Roasterie’s success to hard work alone—he credits the community for heartily embracing a local brand. Since 1993, The
Roasterie has made thousands of in-kind donations to nonprofit organizations
dedicated to helping others and making Kansas City a better place to live, work
“The loyalty of Kansas City and our partners across the region makes our success possible,” O’Neill says. “And the only thing as strong as Team Roasterie’s taste for great coffee is
our passion for giving back to the community we love. Being a responsible corporate citizen is an integral part of our mission.”
One of The Roasterie’s main philanthropic focuses is children and since 2017, the company has chosen to steer donations to Children’s Mercy and Variety KC.
“Danny O’Neill’s heart for kids is big,” says Variety KC Executive Director Deb Weibrecht. “He’s done so much for Variety kids over the years, like last August when he drove to the Arctic Circle to raise money for 12 custom adaptive bikes. When Danny and Team Roasterie do something, they do it with heart and soul.”
Special celebration blend released
To mark The Roasterie’s historic year, the 25th Anniversary Blend is being released this week. True to its persona as a company brewing with adventure, The Roasterie’s limited-release blend is described by The Roasterie’s Green Coffee Buyer Craig Park as “exotic and uninhibited, a carefully crafted blend of African and South American beans, heavy in body and winey with notes of blackberry, cherry and subtle cocoa undertones.” When purchased in a 12-ounce bag, the 25th
Anniversary Blend comes with the special-edition label featuring
the DC-3, which O’Neill named after his beloved mother, Betty. The blend is available for $17 plus tax throughout the year, online and in Roasterie cafés; cafés also brew the blend daily.
Trifecta of top-sellers
If O’Neill had to choose his favorite Roasterie blends from the past 25 years, that would be easy: the three that customers buy over and over. The trio includes Kansas City Blend, “as likeable as your best friend” says O’Neill; Betty’s Blend, a flavored coffee that his mother loved; and Super Tuscan Espresso—one that O’Neill—also known as the Bean Baron—drinks in copious amounts.
Year of celebration
The Roasterie kicks off observing 25 years with events like monthly Food Truck Brunch Sundays at The Factory, March-October; an evening with O’Neill at Johnson County Community College; café events such as an Ice Cream Social at the Main St. Café, public cuppings, customer collaborations and pop-ups; First Fridays at Corrigan Station; special release blends; and a signature event in September at The Factory, among many more.
“We don’t want to just celebrate our birthday, we want to include the city that’s made the last 25 years possible—and a complete joy,” O’Neill says. “The Roasterie absolutely cherishes connecting with the city that so generously supports us.”
specializes in sourcing, roasting and selling small batch,
premium coffee from farms and co-ops around the globe. For more information on The Roasterie’s café locations and complete line of coffees, teas and home-brewing equipment, visit theroasterie.com or call 816-931-4000.
About The Roasterie Air-Roasted
Air-Roasted Coffee has served only the best coffee for the past 20-plus years
sourced from countries with the world’s richest resources for harvesting exceptional
beans. Founder Danny O’Neill air-roasted his first batch of beans from the basement of his Kansas City, Missouri, home in the Brookside neighborhood in November 1993—and The Roasterie was born. O’Neill opened The Roasterie’s first official production
facility in July 1994 at 1519 Cherry Street in Kansas City, Missouri. In
December 1995, The Roasterie relocated to 2601 Madison Street in Kansas City to
accommodate a growing demand for its coffee. Today The Roasterie’s production takes place at 1204
West 27th Street in Kansas City. On September 11, 2012, the production facility
was crowned with a historic DC-3 aircraft, a symbol of exploration, Kansas
City’s strong aviation
history, the American spirit and the adventure of The
Roasterie. A month later, in October 2012, the production facility unveiled the
company’s third Roasterie café. In addition to its plant café, The Roasterie operates cafés in Kansas City, Missouri at 6223 Brookside Boulevard (Brookside); 4223 Main St. (The Roasterie Café & Drive-Thru at H&R Block); 1828 Walnut, Suite 201 in the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District (Corrigan Station) and The Roasterie Drive-Thru at 2663 Southwest Boulevard. Kansas cafés include 4511 119th Street (Leawood, Town Center Crossing) and 2250 W.
47th Pl. in Westwood (Woodside Village). It also operates a café inside Children’s Mercy Kansas City at 2401 Gillham Rd. in Kansas City, Missouri and Lenexa Public Market inside Lenexa City Center at 8750 Penrose Lane in Lenexa, Kansas. The
Roasterie is proud to foster lasting business relationships, resulting in more
than 600 businesses, grocery stores, restaurants, colleges and universities
choosing The Roasterie for its coffee, iced and hot teas, and distribution
services for more than 20 years. For more information about The Roasterie, its
production facility tours, or to purchase The Roasterie coffee and products
online, visit theroasterie.com.