PT’s COFFEE COMPANY
Owner: Jeff Taylor
Address: 5650 S.W. 29th St.
6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday;
6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday;
7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Phone: (785) 273-4920
Years of operation: 18
Holly Bastin is hardly a newcomer to the coffee business. An 11-year-employee of Topeka-based PT’s Coffee, she has experienced the operation from roasting to retail, from beans to brewing.
Even so, in just her second month as the manager of owner Jeff Taylor’s original coffee house in Barrington Village — the place where a small empire began — Bastin admits to having rookie jitters upon initially being handed the keys to the castle.
“I inherited an 18-year-old store that’s beloved by its community,” she explained. “I feel like I’m the new guy, even though I’ve been working for this company for 11 years. I just want to make sure sure this place keeps up its high standards.”
Since it first opened its doors on S.W. 29th Street in 1993, PT’s has experienced a growth spurt that at one time included multiple shops in Topeka, Lawrence and Overland Park. And though its coffee-house side has scaled back to just its original location — a place still featuring sandwiches and scones and an almost overwhelming variety of specialty coffees served hot or iced — PT’s now also imports coffees from throughout the world, then sends products back out through its wholesale, retail and roasting operation in a warehouse in the Forbes Industrial Park.
But it’s still the original coffee shop in Barrington Village, the one now entrusted to Bastin, that voters in the Best of Topeka balloting consistently turn to when picking their favorite coffee.
What makes PT’s the coffee shop that it is?
A lot of it has to do with how we get our coffee. Over the years we’ve developed relationships with the farmers we buy from, which is the key to our roasting side. Then here in the store, we try to cater to the tastes of customers who’ve been with us all along. It still amazes me to listen to customers talk about how long they’ve been coming here. A lot of them have been with us since Day One.
And yet this is a business where many people are looking for something different all the time. Talk about the challenge of keeping up with the demand for new coffee drinks.
The challenge is keeping the changes going on in the industry in line with what your customers want. Coffee is a comfort drink, and it’s different to different people. I might like straight-brewed coffee, but somebody else is going to want more of a dessert drink. Other people just need a pick-me-up in the middle of the day. To some people, it’s like fuel.
What are the new trends in coffee drinks?
There’s a trend now called “pour-over brewing” where you use a kettle and do an almost manual brewing. We have a whole section of our bar devoted to that. We’re pushing the coffees of the (growers) we have special relationships with, so we’ve always got a coffee that’s special but not super-expensive.
And we’ll always have a high-end coffee that can run from $3.50 to $7 per cup for people who want to experience something really unique. Coffee is a lot like good wine in that regard. People want to try different roasts from different climates and different elevations, which can really affect coffee. We continue to buy coffee from some of the highest elevations we can find because that’s where you find the more complex coffees.
If we were to ask you for the drink that’s the quintessential taste of PT’s, what would you commend?
I’d either recommend the straight espresso or a brewed coffee. I also really like the pour-overs we’re doing now. We just launched one call Panama Elida Estate, a natural-processed coffee from Panama that has a nice fruit taste. Some people say it taste like strawberries and chocolate.
Rick Dean can be reached at (785) 295-1275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.