Kansas City Caffeine Crawl: Vietnamese coffee shines and how to make your own pour over

Brewing a fresh Vietnamese coffee at Cafe Ca Phe coffee trailer at 1717 Washington St. in Kansas City.

The spotlight would come on, the orchestra would play beautiful melodies and Jackie Nguyen would take the stage, singing and dancing with other cast members of the national touring company of the Broadway hit “Miss Saigon.”

Then, Covid-19 hit. The lights on Broadway went dark. Theaters around the country shut down. Nguyen and other actors and dancers like her find themselves suddenly unemployed, often stuck in the last town they performed.

For Nguyen, it was a sign to hang up her dancing shoes and put away the microphone. After 10 years performing in Broadway shows and national touring companies, the first-generation Vietnamese-American decided to settle down in Kansas City, Missouri, and open a Vietnamese coffee shop.

Open for about a year in a small trailer not far from downtown KC, Cafe Ca Phe (Vietnamese for coffee) was a must-stop during our leg of Kansas City’s Caffeine Crawl. Among with a small team of employees, Nguyen seeks to serve the city’s Vietnamese and Asian community, while introducing others to the unique taste of Southeast Asian coffee.

Vietnamese coffee distributor

Serving coffee provided by Nguyen Coffee Supply, the beans are grown and harvested in Vietnam and roasted in Brooklyn. Using robust beans, the coffee features a flavor unlike beans harvested elsewhere.

Coffee is brewed using a Phin filter, a metal filter, which allows coffee to have a pour over taste, fresher than coffee brewed with traditional paper filters.

The Saigon – an iced coffee at Cafe Ca Phe.

We tried the Saigon, an iced coffee made with condensed milk, using a Phin filter. It had a full flavor, which impressed me because I’m not an iced coffee fan.

I did order a small black coffee for the drive to our next stop. It also tasted delicious.

Nguyen plans to open a brick and mortar location in early 2022. Designed to be a safe spot for everyone, Cafe Ca Phe plans to welcome People of Color, LGBTQ and disabled community.

Pour over class

While we enjoyed our Vietnamese coffee shop, our crawl included a second location – Blip Roaster – where Jason Burton, the crawl’s owner, taught a hands-on class on pour over coffee.

Using a Gabi coffee dripper, Burton demonstrated the process to make an excellent cup of coffee using the pour over method. While heating water to a specific temperature, he poured freshly-ground coffee into a paper filter in a funnel over a cup. Pouring the hot water into the Gabi, he allowed a few minutes for the water to drop through, creating 10 ounces of coffee with a clean, mellow flavor.

Jason Burton shows a group of about six people how to make pour over coffee.

Following a couple more demonstrations using different flavors, Burton turned over coffee-making duties to others in our group. Anyone who wanted to participate was welcome to make a cup.

Hosting the pour over class, Blip Roaster is a unique place. Combining coffee with a love of motorcycles, the company’s philosophy is that riding moves them through life and coffee helps re-align their trip.

Besides its coffee shop at the roasters warehouse, Blip also offers tours of its roasting process, as well as selling coffee to wholesalers.

We’ve enjoyed tagging along on crawls in Omaha, but it was fun visiting new coffeehouses on the Kansas City Caffeine Crawl. Jason and his team sponsor crawls across the country. You can check out their website for upcoming locations and dates.