A Crossroads Cafe Forgoes Tipping To Focus On Good Ole Coffee

Take Care By OLEO's Interior / Photo Taken By Zach Bauman

Mark Sappington and Chris Oppenhuis are no longer just the silent middlemen between coffee producers and retailers. The duo, who have been procuring, roasting and supplying beans to some of your favorite local spots like Mildred’s and Heirloom Bakery, are now at the end of the supply chain, too.

The pair started their roastery Marcell Coffee in 2019 but decided to leap into retail last fall with their own cafe, Take Care by OLEO (419 E. 18th St., KCMO).

Take Care is an ode to cowtown, with rustic Western pieces like hanging overalls and tattered Folgers coffee tins decorating the space. Midwestern friendliness is the name of the game here. There’s no screen separating you and the barista, one-ounce bags of coffee are easily available for purchase, and the pastries—scones, biscuits and mini bread loaves—are freshly baked each morning. These small details are what Oppenhuis refers to as “subtle hospitality.” 

“Whether it’s the bag of coffee or the space itself, we’re trying to create a memorable experience beyond a cup of coffee,” says Oppenhuis.

OLEO, which means fuel in Portuguese, is the specialty coffee brand Sappington and Oppenhuis created for their new cafe. The brand’s name is inspired by one of the duo’s primary suppliers and travel destinations: Brazil. “It’s also one of my favorite places in the world,” Oppenhuis says.

There’s no pressure to tip, as Take Care pays their employees a wage that doesn’t depend on tips, they say. This ensures the same wage for everyone, and the barista isn’t flipping the screen toward the customer after every sale.

But what really sets Take Care apart from other coffeehouses? “It’s the product,” Oppenuis says.

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