By Kevin Collison
Getting together with The Roasterie founder Danny O’Neill to discuss the 25th anniversary of his business on Southwest Boulevard is, not surprisingly, a highly-caffeinated encounter.
The lanky, charismatic owner frequently jumps up from his seat with excitement as he explains what he’s created since he began roasting beans in his home’s basement back in 1993.
And he’ll also tell you, just for fun, about how he rode his BMW motorcycle to Alaska and back last year for a fundraiser–in eight days.
O’Neill is a high energy entrepreneur brimming with ideas. As if you couldn’t tell from the classic DC-3 airplane that’s been perpetually taking off from The Roasterie factory rooftop since 2012.
This is not just a place where coffee beans from throughout the world are roasted and distributed to his nine coffee shops throughout the metro and hundreds of wholesale customers beyond.
It’s become a destination for hundreds of visitors seven days a week.
“We want lots of people to come in, socialize, buy something and have fun,” O’Neill said.
He likes to compare the experience to a souq, the kind of colorful and eclectic marketplace common in the Middle East.
You can tour the roasting operation, check out the “Baked” bakery, go for some cold-brew nitro coffee, pick up branded dark chocolates from Andre’s or branded balsamic vinegar from the Tasteful Olive.
There’s also public ‘cuppings,’ the coffee equivalent of wine tastings.
“We can teach people how to grind and brew coffee or any kind of drink you want, or you can sit in a corner and we’ll bring coffee to you and you don’t have to speak to a soul,” O’Neill said.
What he really wants is for people to get the same jolt from The Roasterie space as they do from a good cup of Joe.
“I want an ‘oh my God,’ I had no idea that much was involved with our coffee or ‘oh m God, I didn’t think I could go onto the floor,” O’Neill said.
The Iowa native began his fascination with coffee in 1978 as a foreign exchange student picking beans in Costa Rica.
After launching his business at his home in Brookside, he went through a succession of increasingly large production locations until moving to his current quarters at 1204 W. 27th St.
Over the years, his favorite creations have been his Kansas City Blend; Betty’s Blend, enjoyed by his mother, and the Super Tuscan Espresso—O’Neill’s preferred caffeine turbocharger.
For the year-long 25th anniversary celebration, The Roasterie has a special, limited-release blend described 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.”
There also will be monthly Sunday Food Truck Brunches at the plant, 2701 W. 27th St., beginning this Sunday through October from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Cars & Coffee shows the first Saturdays of the month through October from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
A special anniversary event also will be held Sept. 15, details to be announced.
And of course, tours of the plant will be ongoing.
“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 said.
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