By Kevin Collison
The new Transit Coffee shop at Westport Road and Main is all about motion, whether it’s the region’s place as a transportation crossroads or the streetcar stop that’s opening nearby in a couple years.
“The idea is, Kansas City is this central hub for all kinds of different supply lines and transportation systems,” said Ben White, co-owner. “There’s lots of green coffee beans stored in the caves here.
“We can bring in all the best coffees. We want to serve high-end coffee, but not be pretentious.”
The café is taking over the space vacated by Oddly Correct coffee, which moved to 4141 Troost, and is currently in a soft opening phase. A grand opening is scheduled for Sept. 3.
White is bringing a wealth of coffee experience with him, dating back to the seventh grade when he was a regular patron at the former Benetti’s coffee shop next door to his middle school in Raytown.
He later became a Starbuck barista before going to work at The Quay in the River Market where he eventually became general manager and helped it open an outlet at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Throughout all that, he managed to get his degree from the UMKC Conservatory of Music specializing in playing classical guitar. Performing remains a passion along with coffee.
When Oddly Correct vacated the corner for new digs on Troost Avenue, a couple of his friends from Redeemer Fellowship church, which owns the building, approached him about whether he’d like to open a coffee place there.
White agreed and took over the lease, which now is scheduled to go through 2026, a year or more after the streetcar extension from downtown to UMKC is expected to be running.
Rather than roast its own coffee, Transit Coffee seeks out the best beans from around the country to brew. White and his baristas gather for “cuppings” to sample which beans to buy and a steady rotation is planned.
Some of the roasters in the line-up include Methodical out of Greensville, S.C.; Dogwood out of Minneapolis, and Hammerhand from Liberty.
Transit Coffee also will feature pastries and baked goods from Black Hole Pastry along with breakfast sandwiches featuring meats from Local Pig.
White had experience with the streetcar while working at The Quay, the River Market stop was nearby, and said its a great vehicle to deliver customers.
“We got a lot of people from out of town and it was fantastic for business,” he said.
He wants his new place to be rider-friendly, offering quick turnarounds in service so people can stop by, get their coffee and food, and be ready to jump on the next streetcar coming down the track.
“We want high-end coffee and food on-the-go,” he said.
Hours will be 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.
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