Monday, March 3, 2014

Latteland Espresso and Tea to officially become Kaldi's Coffee

Posted By on Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 2:35 PM

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Latteland came under new ownership last year, but the transaction hasn't been very noticeable. That's about to change.

All six local Latteland coffeehouses are set to be rebranded under the name of their corporate parent, St. Louis-based Kaldi's Coffee. Kaldi's has been roasting coffee for the Latteland shops since 2007, and it bought the six Lattelands in 2013. Three of them are going under the renovation knife this spring.

So why has Kaldi decided now is the right time to change the name?

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"Last Monday we introduced a rebranding of our logo and our packaging," says Marcus Boni, vice president of retail operations and marketing. "We felt we were starting anew and that Kansas City would experience the rebranding at the same time as St. Louis." (Boni adds that all of the Latteland employees working there now will keep their jobs.)

After Kaldi's purchased the Latteland coffeehouses last year, it continued to operate the stores under the name created by founders Clark Greenlee and Jeff Schmidt in 1992. Greenlee and Schmidt had sold the two Plaza stores to Edward Schultz in 2004. Schultz, who sold the Latteland stores to Kaldi, has a close connection to the Kaldi company: He's the managing partner of Honolulu Roasting Co. in Hawaii, in which Kaldi owns a majority interest. 

Three Latteland locations are scheduled for remodeling this spring, beginning with the shop at 4771 Jefferson, followed by the 318 West 47th Street venue and then the 7900 State Line location. Renovations for the other three Latteland stores (in the Power & Light District, Zona Rosa and Briarcliff) are tentatively scheduled for 2015, Boni says.

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Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Co., which has been roasting and retailing coffee since 1994, is forging ahead into a caffeine-craving city dominated by Danny O'Neill's Roasterie, which is also 20 years old.

"I think it's less about competition," Boni says, "than the opportunity to educate more people about the difference in specialty coffees." That education means beefing up the Kaldi's wholesale coffee line to area supermarkets and specialty food stores. 

Boni says more food may be on the way to the former Lattelands. "The St. Louis stores have items for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a full in-house, scratch-made baking program," he says. "We don't have the facilities in the Kansas City stores to do a full food menu, but we are prioritizing our bakery program here."

A River Market storefront at 110 East Fifth Street has been leased by Kaldi's, but not as a coffeehouse. It will be used for coffee tastings and employee training classes.


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