South Plaza, Colonial Shops
304 E 51st St, Kansas City, MO 64112
I first went to Crows Coffee in January of my sophomore year of high school. Even then, with my infantile coffee palate and minimal familiarity with coffeehouses beyond Starbucks, I could recognize that the shop and the brews were damn good.
I make an effort to come back to Crows at least a few times a year and usually come every few months in order to try their reliably immaculate seasonal drinks. In the fall, they serve a pumpkin cappuccino that has managed to stay in my top three all-time favorite espresso beverages for a couple of years now. In the earlier winter months, they serve a peppermint mocha and, later, a strawberry white mocha when Valentine’s Day approaches.
On my most recent visit, I picked up the strawberry white mocha. As usual, Crows killed it beverage-wise. Their knack for specialty drinks lies in their minimalist approach to the sugary add-ins, which are a perfect hint of flavor but never overpower the integral espresso flavor of the coffee base. If you’re not one for specialty drinks, Crows’ cappuccino is a great staple, but they carry all the classic drinks you hope to find at a coffee shop – as well as a nice selection of teas.
Due to COVID-19, seating is quite limited. However, in the few times I’ve gone recently, there have always been a couple of chairs available that I can grab after putting in my order. I highly encourage you to stick around the shop if you can – Crows has a quiet and warm aura that is perfectly conducive to productive study sessions. Every time I head down to Crows with my backpack in tow, I always manage to crank out a good few hours of quality work, which are made far more tolerable with a delectable coffee at my side.
Because it is essentially located on UMKC’s campus, Crows’ patron population is largely composed of college students, meaning you’re more likely than not to be in the company of others looking for a place to study quietly for a few hours. Unlike some other coffee shops I’ve been to, there seems to be an unspoken agreement among customers to keep the volume at a gentle level, which makes it easy to commit to a focused study session or have a quiet conversation with your coffee date.
Perhaps the best part of Crows is – and this may initially seem shocking – their bathroom. With the clean, cozy design of their main parlor, you don’t expect to walk into the bathroom in the back of the shop to find Sharpie-ridden orange walls. From floor to ceiling, patrons are invited to impart words of wisdom or quick illustrations – though many graffitists don’t quite meet this standard, taking the opportunity to, perhaps cathartically, jot down some swear words or spark some inane political debate.
However, the fun of the wall is that you can write something with total anonymity and then simply leave. Whether you decide to add your own caffeine-fueled creativity to the wall or just want to take in what others have written, Crows’ bathroom offers unexpectedly perfect conditions for a brief study break.
Unlike many neighborhood coffee shops in the area, Crows’ business hours span a good chunk of the day. The South Plaza and Waldo locations are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., allowing you to hunker down for several hours if you’re looking to chip away at a big workload, grab an early morning coffee before heading to other plans in the city or enjoy a post-dinner beverage.
If you’re feeling peckish for reliably good coffee and a quiet study space, fly on over to Crows – they’re calling your name.