Freelance Food & Drinks Writer

Quote: I’m not drinking bad coffee. Ever.

“I’m not drinking bad coffee. Ever.” This from Jason Burton, owner of The Lab, a specialty beverage marketing company. Happily, he recently opened to the public, so we don’t have to either.

You won’t find a coffee shop inside The Lab, just off 31st and Southwest Boulevard. What you will find is half a dozen intriguing coffees from around the country that Burton says you can’t buy anywhere else in Kansas City.

Jason Burton making a cup of Carrboro's Saul Melara coffee for me at The Lab.

This week, the selection included a Honduran Saul Melara coffee from Carrboro Coffee Company in North Carolina and the El Salvadoran Santa Rita Peaberry from Austin’s Cuvee Coffee Roasting Co. Burton also features Kansas and Missouri coffees like Broadway Roasting Company’s Ethiopia Yirgacheffe—the same one that just earned a Good Food Award.

Pick one, and Burton will make you a pour-over and tell you everything you might want to know about a particular coffee’s characteristics, roaster or origin. There’s no charge, just the hope that you’ll leave with a greater understanding of coffee and a bag of beans (either 4 ounce or 16 ounce). And, if you want a Clever Coffee Dripper or other tools to brew it with, you can buy that, too. The Lab shares space with About the Coffee, which describes itself as a “toy store for coffee fanatics.”

What makes Burton the expert? Boundless enthusiasm and curiosity, and a determination to share what he knows with coffee enthusiasts. The Lab also offers classes (check its web site or Facebook page for details), and it hosted last year’s sold-out Caffeine Crawl in September. This year, the Caffeine Crawl will coincide with Kansas City’s first-ever Coffee & Tea Week and expand to cities like St. Louis, Vancouver and Boulder. With all that going on, there really is no excuse for bad coffee.