City Lifestyle

Botany and Bliss


Article by Adriane Taylor

Photography by Paul Versluis

Originally published in Johnson County Lifestyle

There is joy in every Midwest season: bourgeoning blossoms of spring; plentiful sunshine of summer; impressive foliage of fall; and the serene snow of winter. But with each season comes moments of monotony where days are strewn together in endless repetition. So, what is there to do when the clouds are infinitely looming, and moods begin to mimic this same dullness? Perhaps the answer is as simple as finding a cup of happiness amid a lush backdrop. A unique place where even on the dreariest of days a sip of coffee, a touch of greenery, and an uplifting conversation can brighten the spirit. It is within the merging of Family Tree Nursery and Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters that a prescription for curing any seasonal woe lies. It’s called Cafe Equinox.

For brothers Bo, Jesse, and Jonah Nelson, entrepreneurship has percolated through their blood for generations. In 1964, Family Tree Nursery was birthed through the vision of their grandfather, Ron Nelson, and through decades of cultivation, the business has grown to include three thriving locations in Overland Park, Shawnee, and Liberty. Son, Eric Nelson, inherited this love for horticulture and has successfully continued the tradition of growing their calling. It was no surprise that, pun intended, the apple did not fall far from the tree as the young Nelson brothers would also be struck with the same passion. The Nelsons already had a time-tested formula for prosperity, but they wanted to expand this vision and explore the future of retail in a unique way. Jonah Nelson would soon coin the innovative solution: Caffeine and Chlorophyll.

Family Tree Nursery had proven that people love plants. Thou Mayest has proven that people love coffee; therefore, the most natural integration of the two happened within the Shawnee store. Feeling a demographic shift the Nelsons wanted to add a futuristic approach to their products and services, and the nursery environment had the ideal alignment and energy. Cafe Equinox was the perfect addition.

"We wanted to get people closer to plants and nature through drinks and beverages where there’s life and energy. It is so natural and primal. The natural beauty of plants gets your mind asking questions and getting more engaged. People need the experience and the touch. It is pure happiness all the way around!" says Bo Nelson

It has been embraced. Within its first few weeks of opening, Cafe Equinox has had to expand its business hours proving that the harsh Kansas City winter had patrons craving the atmosphere that comes with fresh vegetation and the euphoric warmth of a stellar java.

Cafe Equinox brews its internationally sourced coffees from the rich beans of Brazil, Ethiopia, and Colombia right here in KC providing bold, herbal combinations. The smooth blends that Thou Mayest enthusiasts had grown to love are readily available. A variety of espressos, lattes, and teas that are both eye-opening and smile-inducing are available year-round and are an amazing complement to the beautiful scenery. Add to this an assortment of baked goods, and shoppers will happily stay awhile to engage in conversation and experience something new. And as with the changing of the seasons, customers can expect exciting changes in both the nursery as well as the cafe throughout the year. Seasonal beverages such as the Fireside and the S’more of What that flatter the frosty bouquets of the nursery will give way to new caffeinated concoctions that continue to mirror the exciting changes that occur in nature.

If ever there was a cure for cabin fever, this is it. Within a carefully orchestrated plant-coffee therapy session, the ails of everyday uniformity are dissipated. The tropical aura of the nursery has an extraordinary effect on the psyche during the cold days of winter, and the verve of a good cup of coffee is also transforming. The Nelsons have impeccably morphed the tried and true into something truly modern and magical.

"My hope is that people try it out at different times of the year. Every season the whole store feels totally different, and we want you to be able to come into the store and experience different, exciting things. No matter what, it is still hot and humid and smells like life. It is extremely special and changes your mood." says Jesse Nelson.

Cafe Equinox at Family Tree Nursery

7036 Neiman Road

Shawnee, KS 66203

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