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Statewide Arkadelphia Conway Fayetteville Russellville Searcy Siloam Springs
Statewide Food 0

Visit College Coffee Shops this Summer


Life in a college town has lots of benefits. Colleges offer entertainment and cultural enrichment opportunities to their communities, as well as youthful energy and diversity. It also comes with a vibrant food and dining scene. But sometimes, these areas can seem intimidating to locals who don’t have a direct connection to the campus. Coffee shops are a case in point. That’s why the summer “off-season” is a great time to become familiar with these college coffee shops that are often otherwise crowded by college kids.


Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University

Although the old-school rivalry between the two schools causes fierce competition in the Battle of the Ravine each fall, their students find common ground at Samantha’s Bakery and Café. The small batch, from-scratch bakery and coffee shop in downtown Arkadelphia is a favorite spot, and since there’s limited seating inside, the slower summer season would make it an ideal time to visit. They offer sandwiches, croissants, avocado toast, breakfast burritos, a wide variety of pastries and weekly rotating flavors of macarons. All their pastries, coffee syrups and breads are made in-house.


Central Baptist College/Hendrix College/ University of Central Arkansas

Nicknamed the “City of Colleges,” Conway is a hot spot for independent coffee shops.

Blue Sail, the OG of the Conway coffee scene, just celebrated its 10th anniversary. Its bags now line the shelves of Walmart, Whole Foods, Target and soon Kroger. Founder Kyle Tabor prides himself on educating himself and others on the culture, farms and people behind the partnerships Blue Sail maintains in the fair-trade coffee industry. Its downtown location makes it a popular hangout for college students. So a visit to this shop could be extra intimidating. But it provides a welcoming environment with great coffee and espresso options, pastries, and non-coffee drinks that kids also enjoy. They offer a variety of bagels for breakfast and panini sandwiches for lunch, as well as a great outdoor space.

Round Mountain Coffee Company is also an all-around great destination for beverages. So it’s no surprise that the shop is a popular destination for college students. In addition to traditional espresso offerings, they have a strong emphasis on tea, making them a great option for non-coffee drinkers. In addition to their seasonal drink menu, they just announced a special summer surprise: a Loblolly Creamery affogato flight. The four flavors of ice cream – honey lavender, chocolate peanut butter, cotton candy and salted caramel are each topped with a single shot of espresso.


University of Arkansas

Arsaga’s Coffee Roasters, a Fayetteville establishment since 1992, has a location in the law school library, but it closes for the summer. If you’ve avoided the Church and Center location because of crowds, summer may be a good time to revisit. This store is known for its toasts served on Ozark Natural Breads sourdough, with savory combinations ranging from simple avocado smash to pimento cheese and sweet corn spread to lox or sardines. Sweet options include cream cheese and berry compote, Nutella and pastry cream, or whipped vanilla bean ricotta with fresh fruit. They also have a full menu of hot and iced coffee, espresso and tea options, along with smoothies and sodas made with in-house syrups and sauces.

Its location on Dickson Street and great outdoor seating area makes Puritan Coffee an obvious choice for college students. They also have a lot for food trucks and offer a breezeway rental for private events. They have announced their summer menu, which includes a peach dream latte with house-made peach syrup and vanilla syrup; and blackberry fields, which is blackberry syrup, lemon and simple syrup topped with iced coffee.


Arkansas Tech University

Midtown Coffee’s ATU location closes for the summer, but its nearby North location offers a similar menu. Coffee and non-coffee drinkers alike will want to check out their full lemonade menu this summer. The oceanade is lemonade, blue raspberry and coconut topped with Swedish fish. Other flavors include traditional, passionade (lemonade and passion tea), strawberry and blue raspberry. They also offer sweet and savory bakery items, including a new spinach and feta quiche.


Harding University

Although it’s been a community fixture for more than 25 years, due to its proximity to Harding’s campus, Midnight Oil Coffeehouse has long battled the misconception that it is only for college students. Sarah Cox and Hannah Carpenter, new co-managers, have taken steps to battle this misconception and attract community residents. Cox said they are planning movie nights and a special summer menu. They also have revamped their merchandise, selling board games and cards that encourage people to stay and play. The outdoor patio and deck space is going to be even more inviting this summer, as they have recently ordered big outdoor umbrellas to offer shade. In addition to their full menu of iced and hot coffee, espresso and tea, their rotating menu includes syrups, breads, pastries and desserts made in-house, with a variety of breakfast and lunch options.

Siloam Springs

John Brown University

Pour Jons Coffee is another example of a great patio. Known as a “third space” to many students, their house-made waffles and bagels, breakfast sandwiches, sandwiches and rotating pastry display baked in-house also make them a popular destination. They have a wide variety of specialty teas, and their drip coffee, cold brew and pour-over bar features beans that are roasted in-house. Their house coffee brewing method is called the Kalita pour-over, a handmade version of a drip coffee brewer. The shop is also known for playing and selling vinyl records. Although it’s not just offered in the summer, this season is a great time to enjoy an iced ube (purple yam) latte or housemade kombucha.

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April Fatula is student publications adviser and instructor in Harding University's Department of Communication. She lives in Searcy with her husband and three children and dreams alternately of being a travel writer and drinking her coffee while it's still hot.

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