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Coffee shops are centers of community in both small and large towns. Often locally owned, they allow us to come together and share a warm drink, conversation and our lives. Before the pandemic, the coffee shop market was enjoying moderate growth each year. However, the pandemic challenged local owners, with shops forced to close or restrict business and find new ways to bring coffee to their communities. Though the overall market growth for coffee shops dropped by 24% in 2020, their valuable places in local towns didn’t. Coffee lovers around the state, get ready. Main Street Arkansas and Arkansas Tourism are partnering to bring the Arkansas Main Street Coffee Trail to life.
Hannah Ratzlaff with Main Street Arkansas is helping create the trail and showcase local shops.
“Locally owned and operated coffee shops have become a symbol of vitality, culture and sense of place in American downtown communities. To celebrate the role of the coffee shop in historic downtowns, Main Street Arkansas is developing and launching the Main Street Arkansas Coffee Trail. This will be Arkansas’s first statewide coffee trail.”
Community Bakery on South Main (SoMa District) in Little Rock has been part of the community since the late 1940s.
Main Street Arkansas is part of the national Main Street America program, which encourages small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive in their local economies through rebuilding and sustaining downtown Main Street businesses. Main Street Arkansas is present in towns across the state, from Siloam Springs to El Dorado to Conway and Paragould. Ratzlaff and other staff from Main Street Arkansas and Arkansas Tourism have compiled a list of 43 local coffee shops. “Since the trail is housed in our program, only coffee shops within the participating Main Street districts are featured,” she adds.
Ratzlaff has been hitting the trail to profile each coffee shop so coffee enthusiasts can see which shops are near them or which shops they want to plan an excursion to. The full list of shops will be released on National Coffee Day on September 29. The trail will go live on both the Main Street Arkansas website and related social media. Until then, here’s a preview of a few of the local shops where Arkansans and visitors can sip a cup of local brew while supporting the Main Street Coffee Trail.
Mary Ann Lee offers coffee, art and history at her Pine Bluff shop.
If you’re looking for a good cup of coffee and a snack or light lunch, this is the spot to be in Pine Bluff. Fairtrade beans are ground daily for a fresh cup, and visitors can enjoy bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, wraps or salads. Beer and wine are also on the menu for those looking for a happy hour option. Owner Mary Ann Lee offers her space as a gallery for local artists. She also tells the history of Pine Bluff throughout the shop. Catch up with special events like Friday Jazz Night on their social media pages.
This shop in Hope, Arkansas, promises a great cup, salads, sandwiches and loaded spuds. Along with great coffee and food, HeBrews 11 & 1 is a place to connect with friends. An upstairs prayer room offers anyone a place to take a moment out of their day and recharge. Owner Arnetta also makes a butter pecan coffee that’s a must-have.
Derek Campbell opened Ouachita Coffee Roasters in downtown Mena in 2018 after seeing the need for a place to connect. “Mena lacked a place where people could gather, talk, catch up, be with friends and celebrate events. We created our coffee bar for the people of Mena.” While the shop is perfect for a local connection, it’s also easily accessible for anyone visiting the area for the Talimena Scenic Byway, Queen Wilhelmina State Park and Lodge and other visitors to the Ozarks. The shop roasts its own beans and ships coffee throughout the state. The shop is also a taproom with a great selection of beers and ales and a full menu.
When you’re ready for a break from wandering through downtown Eureka Springs, Bean Me Up is the place. Located on North Main with a view of the creek, it offers coffee made from local roaster Mountain Bird Coffee & Tea, Co. The shop offers breakfast and lunch to enjoy with coffee. Or order a freshly squeezed lemonade to quench your thirst. The shop is pet-friendly with outdoor seating, and dogs receive a free puppuccino.
Sweets and coffee go together well at Magnolia Coffee House.
Magnolia Coffee House opened in Prairie Grove in 2017 and quickly became a staple in the community. Their downtown shop offers a wide variety of specialty coffee drinks, in addition to fresh coffee. They also have great breakfast items and serve sandwiches at lunch. A visit to Magnolia is the perfect way to start or end a day of shopping in downtown Prairie Grove.
Something Sweet has been a downtown stop on Main Street in Paragould since 2011. They offer cupcakes and custom cakes, but the menu also includes premium coffee, lattes and cappuccinos. In February, Something Sweet also started a new experience through Something Pawsitive, a cat cafe next door where you can sip your coffee and befriend adoptable cats. Whether you order something sweet with your cup of joe, or you take it next door for some purr therapy, the shop is definitely a must-stop on the Main Street Coffee Trail.
Arkansas does not lack local entrepreneurs or great coffee. Main Street Arkansas and Arkansas Tourism have made it easier than ever to find great local coffee shops and support small businesses in the communities where we live or visit. On September 29, celebrate National Coffee Day by checking out the full list of coffee shops on the Arkansas Main Street Coffee Trail. Then start checking them off, one cup of coffee at a time.
All photos are courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
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