In the last year, two coffee shops in Topeka have really upped their game when it comes to coffee and beer.
It’s not completely unusual to find a coffee shop that also serves spirits — the Bourgeois Pig in Lawrence has been doing it since before I was in college. But it’s a taller order in the rest of the state.
Blackbird Coffee is modest, unassuming, and easily overlooked. Like many other businesses in Topeka, it’s wedged in a strip mall — almost hidden between a pharmacy, a frame shop and an UPS Store. There’s a tiny front porch with tables and a bowl filled with water for Mali and other dogs whose owners have good taste in drinks.
Earlier this year, some good friends invited us to several fantastic events showcasing semi-obscure Belgian beers. Each beer came with a commemorative glass. My favorite beer was the Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge, a lip-puckering Flemish sour ale. My favorite glass accompanied the Kwak – a beer so named for the sound it made leaving the oddly shaped glass designed to fit in a wooden holster specially installed in coaches. (I can’t make this up.)
The other coffee shop/craft beer joint in Topeka is the Flying Monkey/PT’s Coffee. It’s a little more than a year old, and landed just in time for Topeka to catch the pour-over coffee craze. (And, PT’s Coffee is probably one of the absolute premier coffee roasters in the U.S. Who knew?) The space is modern, with polished cement floors, industrial metal appointments and warm wooden chairs and tables, all which nearly disappear in the bright sunlight that floods the room during the day. They too have a patio that looks out on to scenic 17th avenue, and Washburn University. (And yes, you may lift your dog over the fence if you like.)
They have a few taps and mostly serve local Kansas beer, but frequently have an excellent IPA or Imperial Stout on tap from the West Coast as well. I love that they serve Black Knight Apple Cider from Renaissance Winery in St. Marys. It’s quite sweet and very strong.
But the coffee at the Monkey is probably the best in Kansas, if not the Midwest. Aside from the pour-over bar, they serve hard-to-find coffee drinks (including a mean flat white) and affogato that combines creamy local vanilla ice cream with PT’s dark-brown espresso. Their food is great too.
We know of a few neat coffee shops in Wichita, but we’ll miss the vibe of these two places. Any suggestions for new places to try? Bonus points awarded for places where we can bring the dog.