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With its second location, Café Corazón will bring yerba mate, empanadas and more to the Crossroads Arts District

With its second location, Café Corazón will bring yerba mate, empanadas and more to the Crossroads Arts District

One of Westport's most unique coffee shops is expanding its reach.

Café Corazón, which specializes in Latin-inspired coffee and espresso options, is in the final stages of opening a second location in the Crossroads Arts District. Owners Miel Castagna-Herrera and Curtis Herrera are thrilled to be able to bring their food and drink to a brand new location.

"We opened our flagship location in September of 2019 because we noticed there wasn't a lot of representation of where coffee actually comes from," Curtis says. "Latin culture is so intertwined with coffee, and we knew it was important to have a café that celebrated those roots and was able to cover a wide scope of representation."

Café Corazón pays homage to the culture of coffee with nearly everything on their menu. Their espresso blends come from Messenger Coffee, as the roaster has direct relationships with farmers, allowing the Herreras to have much more control over where their beans come from. And the cafe's food comes from local makers: Pan Caliente bakes all the traditional Argentinian sweets and empanadas, and the tamales come from Elvira's. They also import chocolate directly from one maker in Oaxaca, a city known across the world for their high quality chocolate, and they use real cacao in their drinks – organic and single-origin from a farm in Peru.

Even Café Corazón's non-consumable items have a touch of local artistry. Many of Café Corazón's ceramics come from local artist Kolika Simmons, and MonCherie Mack creates candles for the shop with scents inspired by their drinks. Even the Herrera family got involved in making the space welcoming: Curtis built the tables and counters himself, and the couple's daughter, Dulcinea, painted much of the artwork that hangs on the walls.

"A huge part of our cultural identity is using what we have and not letting anything go to waste," Miel says. "It was so important to us to help bring that identity into our space at Café Corazón—to create a place that was welcoming for everyone. We want our cafés to be places where no one feels excluded, no matter how they look or what language they're speaking. Having that type of environment is extremely important to us."

The theme will surely carry into the new location; Curtis wants to pay tribute to his Apache heritage from his mother's side of the family with both the décor and a new menu items.

"It isn't a new direction at all, really," Curtis says. "It's just going back to our roots even further. These cultures are all tied together, so it's something we're excited to explore with Kansas City."

Anyone who has passed Café Corazón has surely seen the massive, westward-facing mural on the outside, depicting Frida Kahlo surrounded by flowers and the skylines of Kansas City, Buenos Aires and Asunción in the background. The new Crossroads location will feature a new mural from the same artists, Isaac Tapia and Rodrigo Alvarez. Continuing with the new inspiration, this 14-foot tall mural depicts a Native American girl growing from roots. In one hand, she holds the Café Corazón heart logo – in another, plants spring forth. 

Aside from new offerings, expect many of the same favorites from the original location. Drinks like the horchata latte and Mocha Azteca are twists on classic coffee shop favorites, plus the yerba mate – the shop is still one of the only places in Kansas City to find the caffeinated South American beverage. The owners will also, of course, carry over the delicious pastries and tamales. 

The Herreras will open the doors for a sneak peek of the new space for the August First Friday event Aug. 6. They plan on having local artists in the space, an open mic and a limited selection of some of their menu items for people to try. As for an official opening date, the Herreras hope for "as soon as possible," and encourage interested guests to keep an eye for the official announcement on social media and their website. Barring any unforeseen delays, it should be before the end of August, and they'll be kicking things off with a blessing event and other celebrations for the grand opening.

In addition to the second location, the team behind Café Corazón is also starting to move into their own branding, starting with mate. They want to continue to be a welcoming destination that's part of the fabric of Kansas City for years.

"We've had such a positive response to Café Corazón, and we really hope we can continue to provide an environment where everyone feels welcome," Miel says.

Café Corazón Westport, 1721 Westport Rd., Kansas City, MO 64111

Café Corazón Crossroads, 110 Southwest Boulevard, Kansas City, MO 64108, www.cafecorazonkc.com/

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Jordan Baranowski is a writer based out of Prairie Village. His social media is generally just food and animals.

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