The best cup of coffee Nick Scott has ever had came from Long Miles co-op in Burundi, a tiny landlocked African nation.
“It tasted like plums and fig and honeysuckle,” Scott says. “It really made me question coffee as a whole. It made me wonder, ‘Hmmm, I wonder how good coffee actually can be—because this coffee is really, really good.’”
At Parisi Coffee, where Topeka native Nick Scott works as head roaster, Scott is entrusted with creating that type of eye-opening coffee experience for others.
That’s because the appetite for specialty coffee—the green beans are independently graded to be higher quality than the beans that go on to become Folgers—has ballooned. Much of Parisi’s product is white-labeled for others.
“Coffee’s becoming a more affordable luxury in people’s lives,” Scott says. “We make a great product at a very attractive price, so it’s almost a no-brainer. Let’s just make a really good product, let’s make it so it’s really affordable, and let’s sell the hell out of it.”
The profitability of that large-scale roasting allows Scott to pursue “really cool projects” under the Parisi label, like a single-origin roast made from beans grown at the Finca Los Pinos farm in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua. The beans undergo an anaerobic fermentation process that involves coffee cherries resting in an environment without oxygen to develop surprising new flavors.
“In the coffee world, you want things to be cool, you want things to be progressive and new,” he says. “Everything has to change all the time.”
Scott currently has a Burundi coffee that evokes his conversion cup available for sale at Parisi shops. Parisi is also, as of this month, serving one of the best coffee lots produced in Ethiopia, a product of a grading process known as “cup of excellence.” Scott says it’s one of the top three cups he’s ever had. If you see it, act fast.
“We want that coffee to only be on the shelves for, like, fourteen days before we pull it,” Scott says. “That coffee is really delicate, it’s really nuanced, and after fourteen days, it’s not presenting the way we want it to present.”
We asked Scott for some of his favorite spots around town.
“My favorite place to go for breakfast, which I don’t go to often because I treat it as a special occasion, is Succotash. They have some really great stuff on their menu, and my wife is gluten-intolerant, so they have great options on there for her. Most days, I’m going for something fast—I’m a donut guy, so I go to Lamar’s and get a couple double chocolate cake doughnuts.”
“My favorite place to eat lunch is Ricos Tacos Lupe (last item here). It was literally across the street from the old Parisi—when we were over there, I was eating at Ricos like three days a week. We still get groups together and make the drive down. It’s not on their menu, but they will make a special-order quesadilla. I usually get a chorizo quesadilla because I really like their chorizo.”
“I really like Italian food, but not a lot of Italian places have gluten-free options. I really love Garozzo’s. They have one gluten-free pasta option and my wife happens to love it. So we go a few times a year and really savor that experience.”
“The brewery I love to go to is KC Bier Co. I’m a huge German beer fan—I always have [Bier Co.’s] dunkel in the fridge at home. For a cocktail bar, I love The Campground. They just have a cool aesthetic. For a traditional bar, I like a place in Parkville called The Craic. I’s like an Irish pub but not as dark, and it has that Dublin pub feel to it.”
“I’m a locker member at Fidel’s Cigar Lounge in Westport. That’s where I go to escape—drink my bourbon, smoke a cigar. Even though there’s people there, it’s the same people. It’s like your own private lounge.”