This coffee shop isn't as sexy as a Swiss museum exhibition, but it gives us a warm rush anyway.

Hot, Steamy 

This coffee shop isn't as sexy as a Swiss museum exhibition, but it gives us a warm rush anyway.

If I had a little extra dough in my bank account, I'd fly to Switzerland for the new exhibition at the Johann Jacobs Museum in Zurich. Every year, the museum puts on a show celebrating the cultural history of coffee; the newest exhibit is called Coffee: A Tale of Irresistible Temptation. The museum's Web site promises that it provides "insight into the thematic association between drinking coffee and pleasure, sensuality, exoticism and eroticism."

Although I do believe that coffee is a sensual beverage, I have yet to stumble into a Kansas City coffeehouse that has any palpable erotic tension. The only steam I've seen at any local java joint is coming out of the espresso machine. But some shops do radiate more warmth and hospitality than others.

Take, for example, the cozy Oak Street Coffee Shop (6221 Oak). It's so well- hidden by a shady tree that if you don't know it's there, you'll drive past it. Friends of mine keep nagging me to review the food prepared in the white-tiled kitchen of Martha Pruitt and Dorna Edgar's neighborhood hangout. "They make the best chocolate-chip scones in the world," insists my friend Kathi, ignoring my argument that I won't eat anything with a chocolate chip in it except a cookie. I'm not crazy about scones, either; I've eaten too many dry, horrible ones in Kansas City.

But it's impossible not to feel all warm and gooey about this two-room coffee clubhouse, with its comfy faux-leather wingback chairs, its collection of mismatched tables and chairs, and its shelves crammed with interesting books and stacks of daily newspapers. Six mornings a week, the tiny staff makes pancakes (cooked on an electric griddle), breakfast burritos, and biscuits and gravy — but never on Sunday, the only morning when no hot breakfast is served. "I have to have one morning off," says Pruitt, who gets to sleep in that day until the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. (Her staff does serve a modest lunch seven days a week.)

The Oak Street Coffee Shop celebrated its second anniversary this month, and business has been solid, Pruitt says. "We're not getting rich, but no one makes money giving warmth to the community."

But giving warmth, especially on a cold or rainy morning, is a very good thing.

If you want something sexier, you'll have to fly to Switzerland.

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