Verita gives you a reason to head west

Verita gives you a reason to head west

LIKE CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER: Verita Coffee offers a surprisingly delightful "dirty chai" — chai with espresso. Photo by Don Winsor

As you know, the west side of Wichita is a lawless wasteland where life is cheap and rough justice is dealt by bands of malfunctioning robot cowboy sheriffs who long ago escaped from Wild West World. The minivans of the funmoms in their Lululemon pants roam unchecked and your attempts to reach the IMAX at the Warren on 21st are entirely at your own risk. Until now, IMAX movies and pizzatacos were the only reason to venture west of West; now there is another.

Jon and Ivy Jones opened Verita Coffee on March 2 at 9414 W. Central (between Tyler and Maize) in a gorgeously transformed space centered around a beautiful Slayer espresso machine. This is great news for those of you who live on the west side, but for the rest of you wondering why you ought to go out of your way when there's coffee five minutes from your house, here's what is different about Verita.

First, let me talk about the space. Verita's back wall is covered in verdigris pennies. Forty thousand of them. And they did it by hand, one by one. To see it in person is awesome in a very literal sense. Their hand-finished oak thrust bar wraps around their coffee-making island on three sides, offering comfortable seating for around a dozen while comfortable couches, wingback chairs and other seating to relax and/or work under lines of Edison bulbs.

Next, the coffee. I don't know that I'd ever had single-origin espresso, and that's the primary difference that Verita offers. That and their roaster — Verita is the only shop in the area to use beans from nationally renowned Stumptown Roasters. While I'm a huge fan of PT's Coffee Roasting and of course Reverie, it's great to have variety to keep your palate sharp. Their Slayer espresso machine — "without question the best machines in the world," according to Jones, offers the ability to effectively get the most out of single-origin espresso in a way that many other machines can't. It will bloom the espresso at a low 1.5 bars of pressure at its first setting, then with a swipe of the wooden lever raise to 9 bars to fully extract the espresso. The subtle notes present in their Ethiopian espresso were eye-opening. Without question it was a great espresso, but you're able to detect flavor note and subtlety that I would normally just take for granted aren't present in espresso. Highest recommendation.

Beyond this, let me talk about their chai. Their chai is a "proprietary blend." They roast and grind their own spices for the chai, and it is now without a doubt my favorite chai. I wish they'd package and sell it for home use. I had never in my life enjoyed a dirty chai; I thought that such a thing ruined both espresso and chai. Somehow, they've found a way to make it work.

Verita has limited hours — morning and early afternoon, most days, closed on Sunday. It's a great atmosphere, great coffee and is well worth checking out.

Wichita's independent coffee scene seems to be thriving. I'm looking forward to letting you know more about Monroe Roasters as they prepare for their opening soon and will also be detailing how Churn & Burn is looking to move a couple of doors down. They'll be right next door to their current location, but offering a bit more seating and a new flow as the weather warms up and they continue to concoct the best frozen coffee drinks in town. I've had three espressos while writing this column. I'm going to go outside and run around the building a few times.