Innovative bread bakery and cafe opens in Kansas City

by John Unrein
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Messenger Coffee Co.
Recently opened Messenger Cafe features an in-house stone mill and a coffee roasting facility.
 

KANSAS CITY — Kansas City is now home to Messenger Cafe, a new collaboration between Messenger Coffee and Ibis Bakery. The site features a cafe, wholesale coffee roasting facility, cupping lab, office, grain mill, sourdough bread and pastry bakery, lunch spot, rooftop deck with a fireplace, and future site of delicious dinners and event space.

The bakery features TMB bakery equipment (ovens, retarder) and its own stone mill, installed by New American Stone Mills of Elmore, Vt.

“Our goal is to mill 100% of our flour,” said Chris Matsch, who runs Ibis Bakery with his wife, Kate. “Right now, we are milling about 1,500 lbs of flour a week for our bread program. Our base is Turkey Red wheat from central Kansas.”

The bakery’s other two retail spaces, Ibis Lenexa and Fervere, currently buy their own flour, but Chris Matsch said milling their own flour will open doors to new possibilities.

Messenger Coffee Co.
The open design of Messenger Cafe enables customers to see bread bakers and coffee roasters at work.
 

The cafe, he said, marks a 50/50 partnership between Ibis and Messenger Coffee.

“Our philosophies are very similar — developing relationships with farms, instead of consuming,” Mr. Matsch said. “We are hoping to participate in a localized farm economy.”

Further, the building at 1624 Grand has historical significance. It was built in 1919 by the local architecture firm of Smith, Rea, and Lovitt for the Bruening Brothers Automobile Company. By 1940, the building had become a Dunlop Tire dealer, evidence of which remains at the entrance of the building, which includes an original tile mosaic in the entryway. The building at 1624 was added to the National Historic Register in 2008 as part of the Walnut Street Warehouse and Commercial Historic District. The current owners bought the building in 2014 and since have been renovating the space with Boor Bridges Architecture and DRAW Architecture to host a different kind of experience on every floor.

The new building features an open floor plan between all the different zones of the space so that customers can see bakers and roasters at work. The first floor houses the bakery and cafe, as well as the flour mill, one of the few in-house mills in the country. On the second floor, visitors can watch Messenger’s coffee roasters, participate in coffee tastings with the team and get a deeper experience of coffee at the slow bar. On the third floor is a reading room/quiet space, and the outdoor rooftop deck includes a fireplace.

Messenger Coffee Co. bakery
Ibis Bakery communicates the message of "fresh-milled" to customers, reflecting its efforts to build a relationship with the local farming community.
 

Ibis Bakery began in a coffee shop kitchen and quickly began selling loaves of bread and slices of toast at farmers markets. Having found a niche in Kansas City’s food community — crusty, French-inspired bread and sourdough croissants — it didn’t take long for the demand from customers to point out a quality threshold: the number of loaves per day Ibis will not exceed. This is why customers find Ibis functioning as independent, small bakeries, each using the same slow-rise process and fresh, local ingredients. The Lenexa and Crossroads bakeries are unique due to each location’s wild yeast culture, ovens and other factors, like humidity and temperature.

Messenger was born in 2013 out of a desire to create a coffee roasting company that could make great coffee approachable to everyone while taking care of coffee farmers in a way that goes above and beyond the status quo. Over the years the company has moved warehouses a couple of times, growing slowly while making sure the cafes and farmers they work with are treated well and the coffee quality stays high. Messenger Cafe will serve as its headquarters for roasting operations and a flagship location to serve coffee the way they believe it should be served. 
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