Part coffee shop, part part printing press, the crew behind Oddly Correct is seriously passionate about what they are roasting and where they stand in the world of coffee.
How was Oddly Correct born?
Oddly Correct was born out of a mix of coffee passion and a strong belief that one could do what one loves and make a living for one’s self. At the time of Oddly Correct’s origin, Gregory was in his fourteenth year of coffee employment. With a growing family and the knowledge that life was beginning to accelerate with children in the picture, the need to maximize time with family was paramount. Opportunity arose to obtain a little drum roaster and simultaneously, a couple coffee shops were willing to give a new roasting company a shot. In a friend’s garage, with a couple bags of green coffee and some dream gumption, Oddly Correct was born.
After it’s stint in the garage, Oddly Correct roasted in three other locations, working on the philosophy of ‘expand on the basis of your success.’ In 2011, a space became available in Midtown Kansas City, MO. It was a payday loans business that we were all too keen to demolish! 9 months later, Oddly Correct had a retail counter that was open for business. Folks could wander in and purchase coffee by the bag or buy it black in a cup, poured by hand in a variety of brewing methods. A year later, a corner space in the same retail building we roasted and brewed in became available. We similarly gutted it down to brick walls and terrazzo floors. It’s been open for a month and a half now, and has space to accommodate over 30 people. That is a great hospitality improvement over the 11 seats we had previously.
I add the last expansion detail to set the context for how we do things at our shop. We source, roast & prepare coffees that are complex and beautiful just as they are. We have chosen to curate a menu in the sense that a curated collection of beverage experiences is more like an art museum than a coffee warehouse. We are crafting coffees that are framed and presented in such a way that the true flavor can be paramount.
In your video on Vimeo you refer to yourselves as “coffee professionals”; can you explain what that description means to you?
Coffee Professionals is a term used for those whom have chosen to make a career that revolves around some aspect of coffee. What has previously been ‘just’ a service industry job, can now have an indispensable connection to a neighborhood around the corner and around the world. Baristas & roasters are not the most lucrative of career choices, however the medium of coffee is always specializing, and we as an industry and as a coffee people, are always learning from new coffee preparations & each other. The funny thing is, that most folks seem to ‘fall’ into coffee. For example, Mike Schroeder was first an aero space engineer graduate, then a traveling musician, then, somehow coffee got a hold of him.
What drives the coffee professionals at Oddly Correct? How did each of you get there?
What drives us at Oddly Correct, is that we ‘get’ to be part of something that is making an impact in our city for the better. We get to pour coffees for the people of Kansas City in a way that hopefully blows their minds, makes their day & hopefully thereby increases their quality of life. What drives us is learning how to craft an increasingly amazing experience for our customers and ourselves. The culture at Oddly Correct is emerging daily, with a focus on serving a quality-driven product, in an environment that is aesthetically pleasing, with liberty, play and rest. There are 5 of us now! Gregory’s story is that of the first paragraphs answer, Michael Schroeder came to KCMO, via North Carolina. He married Gregory’s wife’s sister, and was roasting coffee at a coffee company in Winston-Salem, NC. He was ready for a change, and saw an opportunity to make something beautiful with us at Oddly Correct! He is now head roaster. Randy Taylor has been a friend for about 4 or 5 years. He’s the newest coffee professional. He’s one of those people who can do anything. He has owned and sold businesses, he can weld, sew, work wood, pour concrete counter tops etc. Turns out he has a good palette for coffee, and he likes learning new things. He also fabricated our new cafe. Tyler Rovenstine has been a working barista for many years now, and an experienced competitive barista. He worked for a local company, and was also ready for a change. He just kept showing up, and so we decided to start paying him a little! (Here are some great pics of Tyler from the competition) Lastly, Erika Hanson pulls shots & shifts a couple days a week at our shop. She’s a Fiber teacher at the Kansas City Art Institute, and a weaver herself. She worked with a local coffee company here in KC a number of years ago, and the worked a couple years at Blue Bottle in San Francisco. They are a fine company! She has skills, and ‘just wants to make good coffee.’ We’ll take it.
How did you develop the roasting techniques used at Oddly Correct?
Having a dozen or so years experience roasting coffee on a lot of different roasters, a lot of different ways, I learned how to roast in a fashion where I thought it tasted best in the cup. A lot of the goodness and sweetness we taste in coffee is from sugars that have been caramelized inside the coffee seeds when they are roasting. There are a lot of ways to make coffee taste good by roasting it, and a lot of ways to make it taste poorly.We focus on sourcing and roasting high quality, fresh green coffee, roast it as sweet as can, focusing on letting that caramelization do it’s thing & cool it quickly. Short answer: trial and error!
Oddly Correct also has a printing press! Please tell us a little about that.
Gregory had a dream of being a greeting card designer when he was a kid (just after discovering his need for eyeglasses squelched the dream of being an astronaut!) He had a habit of drawing on coffee bags and giving them as gifts in the past. Letterpress has a strong culture in Kansas City. That’s where he was introduced to the idea. The shift from hand-drawn to printed happened when a favorite traveling musician received a bag with a drawing and inquired, “is this a print?” The light bulb went off, and the pursuit of a press began. Since then, our bags are illustrated with linocut & wood cuts, lead type is used for logos etc. It’s a way to stay creative & repeat images that are organic and stimulating.
It’s also a great way to make signage and labels for our products at our retail shop! Greeting cards are soon to be available for sale. Ah, Gregory’s long awaited dream come true at last!
Anything exciting on the horizon?
We are about to release our seasonal Hop! Toddy cold brew beverage. Being craft beer fans, we love hops in particular. There was a Sumatra we had a few years ago that was particularly funky & hop-like. It made us think, hmm, what if we took bumped that up a notch? Hence was born this beautiful blend of hops and coffee. We were looking for a super-ultra-refreshing summer beverage.
We also obtained an old hospital catering cart. We are going to convert that into a mobile, hand-brewing cart. We will be able to show up at local businesses and give folks life-altering coffee breaks, as well as serve coffee at events around town.
Describe your perfect cup of coffee.
We are always searching for the perfect cup! If it exists, I would desire a sweet, complex, personality-rich cup. Simple question, hard answer!
Maeve Nicholson is harpist, fiber artist and a contributing editor at Martha Stewart Living. Follow her on Instagram.com @maeverz
(Photo Credit: Gregory Kolsto)