Smudge Eats: Kansas City Shuffle

[Originally published on Smudge Eats, April 2016]

Profile: Kansas City Shuffle, Sydney

- by Camilla Sampson

Kansas City Shuffle is as serious as it is cheeky, dishing up a devoted approach to coffee with a side of fun.

Ben Sweeten has been in hospitality since the age of 11, making it an almost-lifelong love affair. Kansas City Shuffle is his biggest project to date, being a multi-purpose venue of huge proportions – a rarity in the Sydney’s CBD. Multi-purpose means offering everything from breakfast to coffee, intimate private events to large functions, and soon, cocktails to dinner.

Ben’s background in hospitality is a strong one, not just counting the years. A stint in Melbourne at Proud Mary really fuelled his passion for coffee. This passion, and good faith in his own abilities, bred an ambition to create something as memorable in Sydney. He began with Joe Black in Surry Hills, a cult hit, and went on to work on a number of other projects, before opening Kansas City Shuffle.

It is certainly a unique venture for the city centre, partially due to its sheer size. But it’s an excellent space for all sorts of occasions. There is a liquor licence, which allows food and drinks packages to be arranged for group bookings and functions, and the kitchen offers various catering options.

If you’re dining in, the vibe is relaxed but upbeat, with a cheeky edge to it. Housed in the former Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory, you’ll find tributes to its heritage throughout. For example, the mural showcasing Cadbury’s iconic glass and a half of full cream milk being poured into the Kansas logo. A delicious Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate martini will also appear in the future.

There is quite a contrast in the food on offer, but one that Ben has executed well. The menu caters to all; heartier dishes such as fried chicken on a donut bun or beef brisket on waffles are offered alongside lighter, healthier meals such as the acai smoothie bowl or toasted pumpkin bread.

There is an awesome array of vegetarian options, and the kitchen is very helpful in catering to dietary specifications on request. Other signature dishes include the chia pudding with coconut milk and hazelnuts, and the hot smoked salmon – using Atlantic salmon from New Zealand that is smoked in-house over hickory woodchips. This attention to produce is reflected across the menu, with the cafe aiming to source from local farms where possible and using seasonal, fresh ingredients.

The attention to detail extends to the coffee. The cafe uses Single Origin’s house blend, Reservoir, and the barista orders in a special blend every week. The caffeine-hit options are extensive, with everything from filter coffee or cold drip, to batch brew, V60, and more, on offer.

Kansas City Shuffle may already feel like a venue of infinite possibilities, but the team is keen to experiment and find exciting new ways to continue to expand. A new restaurant concept will be launching in the coming months, aimed at the after-work crowd, and that’s just for starters.

Photo by Amanda Davenport


FoodCamilla Sampson