Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City
Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - Taking Off with a Fresh Brew
For coffee lovers and aviation enthusiasts alike, The Roasterie in Kansas City offers a truly unique experience by combining specialty coffee and vintage aircraft. Situated right on the tarmac at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport, The Roasterie operates out of a restored DC-3 aircraft that has been transformed into a coffee shop. This provides customers with the rare opportunity to sip high-quality coffee while sitting just steps away from the runway.
According to founder Danny O'Neill, the inspiration for the cafe came during time spent people-watching at various airports. O'Neill envisioned a space where people could relax and enjoy coffee in close proximity to the action of the airport. After acquiring a vintage DC-3, his vision was brought to life. The extensive restoration process involved stripping the interior of the plane down to the bare metal fuselage and handcrafting every detail of the cafe interior using many original aircraft parts.
For those who have a fascination with aviation, the DC-3 coffee shop is a dream come true. Customers can sit at the cafe tables on the cabin floor and gaze out the plane's windows while propeller aircraft take off just outside. The cockpit is also open for people to peek inside at the intricate controls and instrumentation. For some, just being able to step inside the historic aircraft is an unforgettable experience. As customer Mike R. described, "I never thought I'd get to be in a DC-3. As an airplane enthusiast, this was awesome."
Of course, the star of the show at The Roasterie is the coffee itself. The beans are roasted on-site, providing customers with coffee and espresso drinks made from beans at their peak freshness. The extensive drink menu features pour over, cold brew, espresso, and specialty options like the "Aviation Latte" with hints of lavender and vanilla. Food options include pastries baked fresh daily. The Roasterie has won numerous awards for its coffee, including top honors at the Golden Bean North America Roasting Competition.
What else is in this post?
- Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - Taking Off with a Fresh Brew
- Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - Soaring Over the Bean Belt
- Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - New Heights of Caffeination
- Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - Flying High on Specialty Roasts
- Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - Turboprop Transformed into Coffee Shop
- Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - Runway Turned Cafe Floor
- Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - Aviation Meets Artisanal Coffee Culture
Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - Soaring Over the Bean Belt
The Roasterie sources its coffee beans directly from farms located in the Bean Belt, a key coffee-growing region that circles the globe along the equator. By working closely with farmers in countries like Brazil, Ethiopia, and Indonesia, The Roasterie can hand-select the finest coffee varieties and ensure beans meet their high standards through direct trade relationships. This gives customers a chance to taste exquisite coffees from across the tropics without ever having to leave the cafe floor of the DC-3.
As Maria G. shared about her experience, "I never realized how complex and nuanced specialty coffee could be. After my flight on the DC-3, I feel like I've toured the entire Bean Belt in one sitting!"
The Roasterie rotates through different single-origin coffees to give customers a taste of what's in season across the major coffee-growing regions. For instance, you may find beans from Guatemala highlighted one week with their characteristic notes of chocolate and caramel. Then the next week could feature a bright, fruity Ethiopian variety bursting with citrus and peach flavors. The rotating offerings keep things exciting for regulars and give everyone a chance to expand their coffee horizons.
In addition to single-origin coffees, The Roasterie crafts signature blends that artfully combine beans from multiple origins. The Aviation Blend pays homage to the cafe's vintage aircraft digs by mixing equal parts Indonesian and Latin American beans to achieve a smooth, balanced profile. Customers praise this medium roast for its hints of toasted almond and subtle sweetness.
Ryan P. explained the allure of sipping The Roasterie's globally-inspired coffees aboard a historic plane: "You feel transported to faraway destinations with each cup. It's a multisensory experience that connects you to the journey of coffee from crop to cup."
Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - New Heights of Caffeination
For those seeking a serious jolt to start their day, The Roasterie takes coffee to exhilarating new heights. While altitude can have strange effects on taste buds, the rich aromas and complex flavors of The Roasterie’s specialty coffee shine through even at 10,000 feet.
Sipping a hot cup of coffee inside a vintage aircraft already makes for an unforgettable experience. But enjoying The Roasterie’s specialty brews while actually soaring high above the Kansas City skyline takes things to another level entirely. Through a unique partnership with a local scenic flight operator, customers can now opt to drink their coffee amidst the clouds aboard thrilling plane rides circling the city.
This specialty "flight tasting" experience allows customers to sample different Roasterie coffees as they peer out the cockpit windows and take in stunning aerial views. With engine noise making conversation difficult, the focus becomes totally immersed in the coffees themselves. The nuanced tasting notes really come alive as you gaze out at the patchwork fields and tiny towns thousands of feet below.
According to Srini S., who recently took the flight tasting tour, "Experiencing these complex coffees while flying over the rolling Flint Hills was amazing. It was so cool to pick out the different flavors and aromas while seeing the Kansas landscape from a completely new perspective."
The flight tastings last around 30-40 minutes and include three selected Roasterie coffees to sample along with a light snack. Keeping the groups small at just 4 passengers plus the pilot provides an intimate tasting experience. The route even flies over the downtown Kansas City airport allowing passengers to glimpse the DC-3 cafe itself from the sky above.
While passengers get to enjoy The Roasterie’s coffees in a novel new environment, the beans also benefit from the upper altitudes. The decreased air pressure and humidity at higher elevations brews out more nuanced flavors from the beans. The straight-from-the-roaster freshness also helps maximize taste since the beans haven’t had time to de-gas or go stale.
According to Roasterie founder Danny O'Neill, "Tasting our specialty coffees thousands of feet in the air really brings out their subtle flavors and aromas. It's a match made in coffee heaven!"
Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - Flying High on Specialty Roasts
For those who see coffee as an artisanal craft on par with wine or whiskey, The Roasterie offers a true connoisseur experience with their specialty single-origin coffees. These rare coffees showcase the tremendous diversity found across coffee-growing regions and demonstrate how factors like variety, terroir, and processing methods influence flavor. Just as expert winemakers blend grapes from select vineyards, Roasterie coffee artisans source beans from micro-lots on exemplary farms to craft nuanced roasts that showcase each origin's unique terroir.
According to head roaster Andrew Heppner, "We look at coffee like winemakers look at wine. Our goal is to highlight the inherent flavors of each origin and variety through ethical sourcing and artisanal roasting techniques." This passion shines through in delicate roasted coffees like their Ndumberi, Kenya offering with its brisk acidity and notes of black currant reminiscent of a Pinot Noir. Or the Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia with its intense floral aromatics akin to a Riesling. While wine connoisseurs swirl and sniff vintages, coffee aficionados can discern nuances of chocolate, citrus, or caramel through the aromas and finish of specialty brews.
Customers seeking a true first-class coffee experience can sign up for one of The Roasterie's monthly tasting classes aboard the DC-3. Led by an experienced barista, the intimate event explores 3 or 4 select coffees through a guided comparative cupping. The side-by-side tastings illuminate the striking differences in acidity, body, and flavor between origins like Brazil, Indonesia, and Rwanda. According to attendee Michael K., "Getting to taste these rare coffees side-by-side really opened my eyes to the incredible range of flavors locked inside a coffee bean. I'll never view coffee as simply bitter 'dark roast' or 'light roast' again."
During the onboard tasting, passengers are encouraged to journal their experience and identify subtle tasting notes. For many, it becomes a meditative experience as they quietly focus on teasing out nuances of tropical fruit or flowers. The lack of engine noise and picturesque views of the tarmac out the window enhance the zen-like atmosphere. As Denise R. described, "Closing my eyes and really focusing on the changing flavors with each sip felt like a form of aromatherapy. These are truly world-class artisanal coffees."
Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - Turboprop Transformed into Coffee Shop
When Roasterie founder Danny O'Neill first envisioned opening a coffee shop inside a vintage aircraft, many thought it was a crazy idea. Transforming a 70-year old Douglas DC-3 into a fully functional cafe presented numerous challenges. But O'Neill's perseverance and creative vision brought this unique concept to life and gave Kansas City an aviation-themed coffee experience unlike any other.
According to O'Neill, "I wanted customers to be immersed in the romance and nostalgia of early air travel while enjoying specialty coffee made from beans sourced directly from farms around the world." To make this dream a reality, he managed to acquire a 1945 DC-3 that had previously been used as a crop duster. The extensive restoration process involved fully gutting the interior right down to the metal fuselage. Every detail was painstakingly reconstructed with close attention paid to maintaining the aircraft's historic charm. Original parts like the cockpit controls were retained, while new elements like the coffee bar and cafe seating were custom fabricated using reclaimed aviation materials.
Many of the DC-3's unique characteristics proved serendipitous for its new life as a coffee shop. For instance, the sloped floor which once funneled rain drainage out the back now allows for optimal workflow behind the coffee bar. And the curved walls and ceilings that strengthened the aircraft now provide aesthetic appeal. O'Neill integrated these existing features into the cafe design, turning potential obstacles into aesthetic assets.
According to frequent customer Alex T., "You can tell real care and craftsmanship went into transforming this vintage plane into a one-of-a-kind coffee shop. Every detail from the overhead luggage racks converted into light fixtures to the flooring made from recycled tires pays homage to the DC-3's aviation heritage."
Indeed, O'Neill went to great lengths to maintain the cockpit and cabin details that give the space its transportive feel. From the variation in metal paneling textures to the patina of age on knobs and levers, the DC-3 coffee shop exudes vintage charm. Customers feel as if they've stepped back in time to the glamorous era of early air travel the moment they walk up the aircraft's built-in stairs. The interior decor pays homage to the DC-3's 1940's heritage with art deco accents and vintage travel posters. And views out the original cabin windows reveal prop planes coming and going just steps outside.
According to customer Samantha F., "It's such an amazing experience to enjoy a fresh cappuccino while watching small aircraft take off and land right outside the window. I never dreamed I'd get to sip coffee in the cabin of a vintage DC-3 - it's the coolest cafe ever!"
Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - Runway Turned Cafe Floor
At The Roasterie, the interior of a vintage DC-3 aircraft has been transformed into a fully functional specialty coffee shop, giving customers a one-of-a-kind cafe experience. The space retains many original details of the historic plane, with elements like the cockpit controls, curved walls, and cabin windows left intact. But the true focal point is the installation of a custom coffee bar and seating where plane passenger seats once were. This novel fusion of cafe and cabin creates a vibe that aviation enthusiast Mike R. described as “Retro yet contemporary. Vintage details blended seamlessly with modern coffee shop touches."
According to founder Danny O’Neill, “Turning the DC-3’s cabin into a cafe floor presented fun design challenges. We wanted to maintain the nostalgic feel of early air travel while creating an environment optimized for enjoying specialty coffee.” To achieve this vision, O’Neill retained the cabin’s sloped floor which now enables efficient workflow behind the coffee bar. The bar itself was thoughtfully fabricated using aviation materials like polished aluminum and rivets to complement the aircraft ambiance. Custom leather and chrome cafe seating adds a touch of mid-century modern style while paying homage to vintage pilot chairs.
Yet despite its retro-inspired aesthetic, the DC-3 coffee shop doesn’t lack any of the functionality of a modern cafe. The bar area offers ample space for complex espresso drinks thanks to advanced machinery like the top-of-the-line Slayer machine. Counter seating and communal tables provide varied seating options for groups and solo customers alike. And large picture windows along both sides of the fuselage flood the space with natural light while offering views of the runway just steps away.
According to Samantha F., a repeat customer, “Sitting at the coffee bar looking out at planes taking off right outside the window is such a cool experience! It feels like you’re about to taxi down the runway yourself.” Indeed, the cafe’s airport location heightens the transportive ambiance. Watching prop planes come and go along the taxiway just past the wingtips makes customers feel immersed in the action.
The fusion of vintage aircraft and artisanal coffee shop also allows customers to geek out on both their love of aviation and quality coffee. Many Snap photos of the overhead compartment racks converted into custom light fixtures or the vintage oxygen masks adorning the walls. Others chat up the baristas to learn more about how the Slayer machine enables microfoam milk art. The interplay between aviation details and cafe functionality creates an experiential atmosphere customers rave about.
Coffee and Planes: Sipping Java Under the Wings of a DC-3 at The Roasterie in Kansas City - Aviation Meets Artisanal Coffee Culture
At The Roasterie, two seemingly disparate passions—aviation and specialty coffee—intersect to create something innovative and exciting. This fusion generates an energetic atmosphere brimming with aviation nostalgia and artisanal coffee passion. Customers intrinsically sense the enthusiasm both Danny O’Neill and his team have for planes and top-quality coffee. According to customer Alex T., “You can just feel the passion they have for what they do. Their love of aviation history and commitment to sourcing and roasting incredible coffee really shines through.”
That sincerity resonates with customers, making The Roasterie more than just another coffee shop. As customer Denise R. described, “It’s about community, connecting people who share passions for artisanal coffee, vintage planes, or both.” Indeed, the cafe attracts a diverse clientele ranging from aviation buffs and history lovers to specialty coffee connoisseurs and casual sippers. Yet the communal tables foster lively conversations between groups that might never intersect elsewhere. Lingering over lattes, cappuccinos, and single-origin pour overs seems to break down social barriers.
According to O’Neill, “We’ve created a space where everyone feels welcome, whether you can rattle off aircraft specs or coffee processing methods or just appreciate a well-crafted cup of coffee.” This infectious energy makes time spent inside the vintage aircraft transformative. As customer Samantha F. shared, “There’s just such a feeling of joy. I always leave happier after hanging out in the cafe watching the planes and chatting with fellow customers.”