Tucked away on Lexington Avenue in the historic Pendleton Heights neighborhood, PH Coffee began brewing for Northeast in October 2019.
The four partners, Addison, Alex, Eric and Jarred, rehabilitated the building after deciding the sun-filled former United Television & Furniture corner was the perfect place for a coffee shop.
“It is a balancing act, of course, but we’ve all kind of fallen into our roles well and have different things we oversee and work on,” co-owner Jarred Donalson.
One of the partners, Alex Merrell, is also a part owner of Hammerhand Coffee in Liberty, Mo. With over a decade of experience, he does all of the company’s roasting and can occasionally be found behind the bar.
“We offer coffee from all over the world,” Donalson said. “Right now we have a great Ethiopian, a really awesome Guatemalan, and we also have a bunch of different blends that we carry regularly.”
Perfect for chilly winter days, their spicy Mayan mocha and vanilla cinnamon flat white will warm both the hands and the soul.
Baristas make their own vanilla extract for lattes using fresh vanilla beans, which turns out creamier and smoother than most bottled varieties.
“I always wanted a coffee shop in Pendleton Heights, and so it’s fun to be able to work with the neighborhood that I have loved for such a long time,” said Amanda Gibson, store manager, barista and resident of the neighborhood.
On drip right now, PH has a Guatemalan Quejina, and a naturally processed Ethiopia for their pour over. They also offer a variety of Hugo teas, even a spicy chai and smooth matcha.
“Everyone has a preference, there’s not one way that’s better than another, it just depends what you prefer,” Gibson said. Her preference is a cortado: two ounces of espresso, two ounces of steamed milk with very little foam.
Gibson describes latte art as a skill anyone can learn, but with a lot of patience and practice. Both an art and a science, perfecting milk texture for various drinks is based on the way it’s steamed. Cappuccinos are foamier than cortados, which changes how it’s poured and how much control baristas have while creating art. She’s constantly refining her technique.
After being known for bringing creative and delicious food trucks into the neighborhood on weekends, PH Coffee recently started serving its own weekend brunch specials – complete with alcoholic coffee beverages, like an Irish mocha.
In March, they’ll add cheese plates to the menu and begin bringing in local distillers and breweries.
Co-owner Eric Rosell said the food they offer is all based on community input, leading them to serving creative and convenient items.
“What we heard from surveys and just talking to people was breakfast sandwiches, vegan, gluten-free items, and just kind of a variety,” Rosell said. “They said they wanted a scone, so I did a bacon scone and that seemed to be selling the most.”
On a blustery Wednesday in January, Rosell was busy preparing to bake dozens of scones to sell that week.
“All of it pairs really well with the coffee we serve,” Rosell said. “If you’re going to chill here or take it to go, you can just get a really good cup of coffee plus a baked item that’s actually really good.”
Rosell said the ability to create and prepare their own menu has helped them control costs better, but also allows them to be responsive to what customers want.
“We really are at the core, a neighborhood coffee shop,” Donalson said. “Because of where we’re at we don’t really get your random bypasser so we tend to know our customers really well, which is really fun.”
PH also hosts the Pendleton Heights monthly neighborhood association meetings, and had been the hub of other neighborhood activities pre-COVID. They’re looking to add more outdoor seating as the weather warms up and provide space for local businesses to sell some of their goods or partner with them.
“We’re trying to do more to get people engaged in the street corner – you know, we have the pocket park across the street – so trying to offer reasons for people to come out and do things and be safe while they’re doing it,” Donalson said.
PH sources gluten-free pastries from Kansas City bakeries, and Donalson said they’ve been lucky to connect with many partners, like Boozy Botanicals and Stag Pizza, which are also based in the neighborhood, and a local designer who creates their merchandise.
A gallery opened in the shared space next door recently as a place for local artists to display their work and hold events, and guests can still enjoy their coffee in the space during the day.
“When we started PH Coffee, we wanted our clientele to represent the neighborhood, and we’ve seen some success with that,” Donalson said. “Coffee shops are generally white spaces, so to see people who don’t fit your normal mold has been great, and we’re still trying to figure out different ways we can engage with people who aren’t your normal coffee shop-goer.”
PH Coffee offers whole bean coffee subscriptions or for purchase as individual bags, which can be ground to preference, a variety of Kansas City goods, and Paleteria Tropicana ice cream.
“I do love coffee, but to me, coffee is more than that drink that you get, it’s about connection and building community,” Gibson said. “The neighborhood has wanted a space like this for a long time, not just for coffee but a communal space in our neighborhood, and we’re seeing that happen.”