Rove Coffee general manager Kaitlyn Palmquist spends her days deep in the trenches of Springfield, Missouri’s growing coffee scene. Despite the scene’s rapid growth, Palmquist remains focused on community, not competition. “A lot of the baristas, coffee shop managers and roasters in Springfield have worked together at one point or another,” Palmquist says. “I think Springfield is special because we're all friends – not competitors in the normal way that the coffee communities around the country are. Maybe that's naive of me, but I've found a lot of evidence of support for new ventures from most of the local shops.”
That attitude serves Palmquist well as she takes on a daunting task: opening Rove’s new roasting facility and tasting room in the heart of downtown Springfield. The project is the culmination of a five-year career in coffee that began behind bar at Classic Rock Coffee Co. From there, Palmquist served as the café and accounts manager for Heroes Coffee Co., a roasting operation now based in Bentonville, Arkansas. That’s how she connected with Katie and Dustin Jackson, who owned a licensed Heroes café in the Springfield-Branson National Airport. When Heroes moved its main office to Bentonville, the Jacksons brought Palmquist on to manage the café and rebrand it as an independent concept. In 2017, Rove Coffee was born.
“It’s only been two years, but we’ve accomplished a lot in those two years,” Palmquist says. Now, she's spearheading operations at Rove’s new independent roasting facility and tasting room. There, Palmquist works with head roaster Jonathan Mizer to perfect the roasts, which are available to try as pour-overs or on drip. “I keep a list in my phone of all the [coffee shops] I've visited around the country,” Palmquist says. “I’m closing in on almost 100. And what I constantly find is exclusivity and arrogance, but Springfield is unique in the hospitality the coffee culture has. Plus, the shops here rival or surpass almost any of the shops I've been to.”
The new shop offers drip coffee as well as espresso, macchiatos and cortados.
What’s the most intriguing blend you’ve made recently, and why? Our most popular is a Guatemalan that features a chocolate graham flavor profile. But honestly, I like my coffee more on the vegetal, tomato-y side.
If you could tell home coffee brewers one thing, what would it be? First, use filtered water. I think it makes a huge difference as opposed to tap water, as it’ll filter out any taste of the tap that would be added to your coffee. Second, your grind is going to be super important. The grind impacts how fast water flows through the coffee. If it’s too coarse, the water will flow too fast, and you’re not going to get the right extraction. If the beans are ground too fine, water is going to sit in there and it’s going to over-steep. If people buy from us, we’re always happy to grind the coffee in a way that’s tailored to their specific setup at home.
What is your first coffee memory? My first impression of coffee was with my dad. He’s been a religious coffee drinker for my whole life – probably more cream than coffee, but still. It’s a sweet memory, because he would always let me have some as a kid. I still really enjoy that aspect of coffee – the community you can create over it, the bonds you can share.
What’s your perfect day of eating in Springfield? My favorite breakfast is definitely Gailey’s – they have some great vegan options, and I’m a vegetarian so that comes in handy. They also serve our coffee, so I’m a little biased there. Cesar's Old Mexico is perfect for lunch; it's the best Mexican food in town. For dinner I love Karai. They have some of the best ramen in town, and you can tell their ingredients are fresh and they really care about what they put out. For drinks, I think Vantage is a really cool addition. I’ve traveled a lot, and Vantage definitely compares to rooftop bars I’ve visited in California and New York.
What concepts or styles of cooking do you hope to see added or expanded in Springfield? I’d love to see more health-focused restaurants, like a place you know you can go with a very healthy menu. In the Midwest, we’re still so meat-focused. If we could explore more creative plant-based options, that would be great.
What are your future plans? Right now, we really want to hone in on what our mission is. We’re really focusing on taking care of our wholesale clients, and there are talks of expansion at the airport, possibly expanding to a brick-and-mortar. A lot of things are up in the air, but I think we’re really optimistic about what the future holds as far as growth. Personally, my main goal for 2020 is our wholesale clients – adding more and taking care of the ones we have; making sure that our customer service is above and beyond.
Rove Coffee Roasting, 306 W. McDaniel St., Springfield, Missouri, 417.429.9450, rovecoffee.com