April 6, 2013

Alchemy Coffee

Lawrence, KS, is a college town, located more or less in the center of the United States. While it is popularly considered by its residents to be a bohemian paradise away from the otherwise cloistered conservatism that dominates the rest of Kansas, it is still very much Kansas. That is to say, Lawrence, KS, for all that I love about it, is not on the bleeding edge of anything. We do not quickly adopt, much as we like to think the opposite is true.

But Lawrence has a coffee shop as they're now being created - with a focus on the brew, and the sublime product that results. It's called Alchemy, and I've been pleased with my visits thus far. The beans are provided by Broadway Roasting out of Kansas City, a favorite of mine. And the staff (which is only two) seems interested in their craft. I've never been asked for feedback as much as I was here, and that can only be a good thing. As for the aesthetic, you can see the entire shop above. I adore it, though it may be a bit twee for some tastes.

There is no espresso machine yet, and not much space to sit or park. These are considerable challenges in an already crowded coffee market, but perhaps not damning, considering the uniqueness of the place.
While Lawrence has many other coffee shops, it has nothing like this. The closest, perhaps, would be Oddly Correct in Kansas City, or PT's in Topeka. But those are not close enough to be competition.

In any case, I'm told it's doing well so far, and I hope that continues. There is a large part of me that wants the industry to go in this sort of direction, and thus an equally large part of me that wants to see those who do venture forth find success.  


  1. Wait, I'm confused. It's like a high class "hole in the wall" in terms of size and only sells brewed coffee and beans? No epsresso? No space for hours of laptop consumption?

    I'm both baffled how it would succeed financially, yet also intrigued at the simplicity. Am I missing something here?

    I THINK I love it.

  2. They do have wi-fi, and there are a couple tables. When I was there, they were all full. You could probably seat 8-10 people - maybe - with computers.

    No espresso yet. That's coming, when the owner can save enough to afford a nice machine. He didn't quite know what model he wanted yet, but didn't want to go the usual budget route that opening cost concerns push most shops towards.

    You can get your drip prepared several different ways, and they do have cold milk (it's next door to a local dairy shop, so that's not hard to acquire) and sugar under the counter, for those who would ask for it. That's it, in terms of coffee variety. There are a couple things to eat as well: Oatmeal, granola bars, chocolate, apples. I think that's it.

    As far as financial success goes, I think it really boils down to costs being super low. You would only need to make $300 a day to make a tidy profit at such a place. And fwiw, I'm told they are doing better than that most days.

    Anyway, I'm basically in agreement with your conclusion. I love the simplicity. It's a coffee shop that does coffee, not milkshakes, sandwiches, etc. It's a laser focused place, which should allow for that focus to excel. But I don't know that Lawrence is a large enough market to support an artisan brew house. I hope I'm wrong though, and so far, it looks like I am.