Like many other aspects of Arkansas, coffee culture flies a bit under the radar. That’s in spite of the fact that Arkansas roasters are winning national awards and name recognition. To be sure, Arkansans love their fair share of coffee from the green mermaid conglomerate. However, there are also some high-caliber local roasters offering great brews.
Northwest Arkansas is the most active region, with seemingly a new coffee joint opening up every week. It’s not necessarily surprising since the region is home to the state’s largest university. Central Arkansas is more geared toward working professionals on their way to work.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to grab a cup of coffee in the state with a particular focus on locally-owned establishments. Grouped by region and in no particular ranking, these are the 20 best coffeehouses in Arkansas.
Onyx Coffee Lab
(image via Onyx Coffee Lab)
Onyx Coffee Lab has multiple locations in Northwest Arkansas: two in Bentonville, one in Fayetteville, and their company HQ in Rogers. Onyx is the big daddy of coffee in the state. They have won national awards like the U.S. Barista Championship as well as placing 1st and 2nd at the U.S. Brewers Cup Championship. And that’s just in 2020 alone. Many other coffeehouses around the state also use Onyx’s roasts as their house brews.
The company is known for its experimentation (hence “Lab” in the name). One of their more unique blends is fermented in a custom-built oxygen-free container. New and interesting flavor profiles result, often featuring notable floral and sweet notes.
(image via AdventureWorks Hot Springs)
Airship Coffee has two locations in Bentonville, Arkansas. One of their locations is near downtown. The other is one of the most unique coffee shops you may ever visit. You won’t be able to get to this second location via car. You’ll need to hop on a bike and make your way down the Coler Mountain Bike Preserve trail. There you’ll find a large, modern, open-air concrete “coffee bunker” nestled into the natural setting.
Airship has actually been around for a while, but they were an exclusively wholesale roaster from 2010 until 2018. That’s when they opened their first consumer coffee bar. It’s been a local favorite ever since. One of their signature drinks is their “Jetpack” nitro cold brew. In addition to coffee, they also have tasty baked goods and savory tacos/nachos.
(image via Arsaga's)
Arsaga’s has 5 locations, and all of them are located in the city of Fayetteville. One is a drive-thru focused on to-go drinks and handheld baked goods and sandwiches. Two locations are smaller cafes located in the University of Arkansas law library and the Fayetteville Public Library. The remaining two locations have more full-service coffee and food options. The flagship Mill District location serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Even though Arsaga’s has wonderfully tasty food, we’ll save that for another time. We’re here to dish on coffee. Arsaga’s serves the tried and true classics: Americanos, cappuccinos, lattes, and more. What we think really sets them apart is that they make their non-dairy milks in-house (almond, coconut-cashew, and oat). We think it really sets them apart. But we’re also partial to the Maple Street salted maple caramel latte.
(image via Pour Jons)
In downtown Siloam Springs, along the border with Oklahoma, you’ll find Pour Jons Coffee located in a historic former retro car dealership. The unique funky setting of the exterior architecture continues inside where you’ll find one whole wall covered in pages of comic books like wallpaper. Pour Jons also hosts bands and other events for intimate shows.
Their tasty coffee is even better with their semi-sweet syrups. We loved a lavender latte but also know that is a particular flavor some may not prefer. Beyond their coffee, Pour Jons also has an extensive array of loose tea. Have any questions? The friendly baristas are more than happy to help you navigate your way through their menu. They also have breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and Belgian waffles!
Eureka Daily Roast
(image via Phil Neidner)
Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is one of those small towns where strangers aren’t treated like strangers. And that’s exactly how visitors to Eureka Daily Roast will feel. The owners themselves are behind the counter roasting and brewing some of the best coffee in the region. And they’ll be happy to enlighten you on their process if you ask some questions.
They even make their own ice cream for their affogato, an ice cream and espresso treat. Other offerings include tasty fruit smoothies, pastries, pie slices, and cookies. When we say cookies, we mean cookies the size of hubcaps. Among some quirky decor, Eureka Daily roast also sells things like local honey and handmade soaps.
Sweet Bay Coffee Co.
(image via Sweet Bay Coffee Co.)
Sweet Bay Coffee Co. has three locations around Fort Smith and another across the Arkansas River in Van Buren. They’ve been a city staple since the ’90s and are favorite hangout spots for all the city’s locals. Regulars stop by every morning for their morning brew and then sit for hours discussing the latest local topics.
Some of their more differentiated offerings include frozen mochas and red bull smoothies. You can imagine these are popular with the students at the nearby University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. They also have your typical array of pastries and breakfast sandwiches, but we suggest trying a panini.
Fort Smith Coffee Co.
(image via Fort Smith Coffee Co.)
Fort Smith Coffee Co. is a relatively new coffee shop in Fort Smith that resurrected an historic name. They have two locations downtown, one a converted former car service center. The other is in the new Bakery District mixed-use space. This open-air setting has expansive seating, other vendors, and neat hammock swings.
This mom-and-pop local roaster has just the right amount of sweetness in its lattes while also letting the rich coffee flavors shine through. Their pastry chef also lived in the French countryside for years learning how to make the perfect scone and perfecting the craft. Grab a bag of beans to-go for home, and they’ll grind them for you as well.
Dark Side Coffee Co.
(image via Dark Side Coffee Co.)
Just across the river from the state capital in North Little Rock, Dark Side Coffee has made waves in a short amount of time. They originally started as a drive-thru coffee stand in a strip mall parking lot. If you’ve traveled to the Pacific Northwest, these types of places are on every corner. However, they are not too common in Arkansas. But this small spot has the best coffee in the city!
The name is a Star Wars reference, and once you take a look at the menu, you’ll understand the joke. Drinks bear the name Bounty Hunter, Rogue 1, and Storm Trooper. Their small establishment became so popular that they recently opened up a second location about a mile down the street. This larger building is termed the “Lounge” with indoor seating tables and plush couches.
Nexus Coffee & Creative
(image via Nexus Coffee & Creative)
Nexus Coffee is located right in the heart of the River Market district in Little Rock. Its corner location on a busy intersection with large windows on the front of the shop make this a perfect place for people watching. Many coffee lovers love their multiple nitro cold brew flavors. We prefer to pull up a seat on the comfy couch and use the french press they bring to your table.
The whole place has walls covered in art by local artists. There are also shelves filled with mugs, plates, shirts, and more offerings from community partners. They even have a breakout room with a barn door that makes it the perfect place to have a work meeting. They offer coffee to-go, but this is one place you’ll like to hang around.
Mugs Coffee Co.
(image via Mugs Café)
Mugs Coffee Co. has two locations, north of the Arkansas River in the Argenta neighborhood (North Little Rock) and one south of the river in the Heights (Little Rock). Their Argenta location may look small from the front, but there is extensive space in the back with tables and couches. There’s even a small stage area and a neat driftwood map of the world on the wall. Over in Little Rock, their Heights setting is the perfect place to sip some coffee on the corner patio when the weather is nice.
Mugs Coffee always has a good rotating list of seasonal drinks, but we are also partial to the Mayan Mocha. It has a bit of a spicy kick from the cayenne pepper. They also have an extensive breakfast and lunch menu featuring french toast, biscuits and gravy, wraps, and sandwiches. Every Saturday, they have a pancake short stack with a different sweet or savory topping.
River City Coffee
(image via River City Coffee)
River City Coffee is nestled at one end of Hillcrest in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Hillcrest neighborhood is a strip of shops, restaurants, and bars that anchor a fun historic neighborhood of bungalow homes. You will often see people walking their dogs or out for a jog on this lower portion of Kavanaugh, the main thoroughfare.
As for the coffee shop itself, River City has a wide variety of flavors. Their raspberry mocha and lavender latte were standouts. Plus, they’re also all about promoting their baristas. You won’t get “fast food” vibes here; it’s not take-your-coffee-and-run. If you want to be a little adventurous with your coffee, they’ll help you out. River City also has a record player going and a huge collection of vinyl records to set the perfect mood.
(image via THINK Coffee)
T.H.I.N.K. Coffee is a mom & pop coffee shop that is the brainchild of John and Jo. The name stands for “THerapy IN a Kup” and comes from the couple’s experiences with their special needs son who has a cerebral palsy and autism diagnosis. Many of the drink names take inspiration from this neuro focus with names like “Brainiac,” “Contemplator,” and “Mind Reader.” Their fun vibes are also evident in their seasonal menu that features things like the “Cousin Eddie” or “Hocus Focus.”
T.H.I.N.K. has four locations: 2 in Conway, 1 in Greenbrier, and 1 in Vilonia. Many of their locations are the drive-thru coffee stand type. However, their Dave Ward location in Conway has a quaint sitting area inside and a small patio outside for sunny days. Contributions from T.H.I.N.K. also go to resource organizations for special needs children and families.
Mylo Coffee Co.
(image via Mylo Coffee Co.)
We mentioned River City Coffee in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Little Rock a little earlier. Well, at the other end of the same street is Mylo Coffee Co. Mylo originally began as a booth at the farmers’ market selling coffee and homemade pastries. Demand continued to grow from there. Enough so, that they opened up a brick-and-mortar location.
Mylo has your standard options for drink choices from cappuccinos to lattes. But even their simple pour coffee is a tasty option. Their pastries are the real bread and butter, however. Pun intended. Mylo excels at laminated pastries so opt for a croissant or kouign-amann. Then pull up a seat at the big windows and watch the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood.
Kollective Coffee + Tea
(image via Kollective Coffee + Tea)
Kollective Coffee + Tea in Hot Springs bills itself as a “3rd wave” coffee shop. These specialty coffeehouses focus on manual brewing methods and sourcing their beans from single farms. This single-origin coffee is sourced from individual farms contrasted to larger chains which are often just countries of origin or blends.
Kollective also has a wide range of breakfast and lunch options. In the morning, you can build your own bagel sandwich or choose from egg scrambles. For lunch, the menu consists of salads, sandwiches, and soups. On the weekends, Kollective stays open later and serves wine. They also have a large array of teas.
Guillermo’s Gourmet Coffee
(image via Guillermo's Gourmet Coffee)
Guillermo’s Gourmet Coffee roasts the coffee right there in-house. If you’re hanging around, you get a little education about their coffee and espresso process. They also don’t burn coffee like some other places in town. Their breakfast pastry options include substantial fare like sausage rolls and ham & swiss croissants.
For those with dietary restrictions, Guillermo’s has a whole section of gluten-free menu offerings. These items include blueberry muffins and vegan carrot apple muffins. At lunchtime, they even have paninis, sandwiches, and wraps.
(image via Grounded)
Grounded is part of Jonesboro’s newly revamped downtown area. It’s a fun, vibrant setting that is dominated by colorful murals. The vibes at Grounded are that it’s definitely a place to hang out for a while. The space is airy and open with plenty of tables to spread out and study. There are also couches for lounging with a group of friends.
Beyond their tasty coffee offerings, they also serve bagels, salads, wraps, and paninis. Our personal recommendation is the Bruschettacado Toast. It’s the avocado toast you know and love but amped up to the next level with a bruschetta topping.
Recovery Room Coffeehouse & Bistro
(image via The Recovery Room)
As the home of Arkansas State University, Jonesboro has its fair share of coffee shops to keep students wired. Just a block away from Grounded, you’ll find Recovery Room Coffeehouse & Bistro on Main Street. This isn’t your typical coffeehouse. Recovery Room serves a full breakfast and lunch during the week. On weekends, they transition to a full brunch menu. The full bar is available all day, as well.
Besides being a coffeehouse and bistro, Recovery Room is also an events venue. At night, they often host live music, regular poetry slams, fundraisers, and other holiday celebrations. The first and third Thursdays of the month are open mic nights. Tell a story, read some poetry, play some music. Try out any of your talents!
(image via Shadrachs Coffee)
Shadrachs Coffee is a local chain that has taken over Jonesboro with six locations. Most of their locations are drive-thru coffee stands, but a couple of their locations are typical sit-down coffeehouses. One of those is downtown not far from the previous two coffee shops we just discussed. Another of this type is a location in Paragould. Soon, they’ll even be opening a location in the Memphis suburb of Lakeland, Tennessee, and a second in Paragould.
Shadrachs has been able to proliferate because their coffee is good. They are consistently lauded for their customer service. And while they are popular, with large lines snaking around their buildings, they are also speedy at making drinks and moving people through. Plus, their fans celebrate their quality and economical prices. They also frequently run fundraisers, donating profits to various charities. Additionally, you can submit personal prayer requests to baristas.
Monticello Coffee Company
(image via Monticello Coffee Company)
The Monticello Coffee Company is owned by a mother-daughter duo. Not only do they serve some of the best coffee in South Arkansas, but they also serve some of the best coffee in the entire state. You may be surprised that this local coffee shop in Monticello, Arkansas, a town of only around 8,500 people, has such an extensive menu. We suggest ordering a Thai latte that adds sweetened condensed milk and a dash of cardamom.
Beyond coffee offerings, Monticello Coffee Company also has chai, tea, lemonades, and cider. An array of pastries and breakfast sandwiches will start your morning off right. And when lunchtime comes around, they have an assortment of paninis from which to choose.
HeBrews 11 & 1
(image via HeBrews 11&1)
HeBrews 11 & 1 is down south in Hope, Arkansas. Smack dab in the Hope Historic Commercial District, this unique coffeehouse/café offers a surprising array of food options. Daily specials include breakfast choices like oversized fruit-toped cinnamon rolls, bagels, and casseroles. Lunch options range from pastrami sandwiches, chicken salad, loaded baked potatoes, and the ever-popular chef salad.
But this is a coffee listing, so we’re here to talk coffee. You can play it safe and get a boring latte or simple pour-over cup of joe. But HeBrews 11 & 1 really shines with their seasonal rotating drink menu. March brings the Pot O’ Gold (honey, vanilla, & hazelnut) and the Four-Leaf Clover (Irish cream, chocolate, & mint). Around Valentine’s Day, they had a red velvet latte. We suggest the year-round butter pecan caramel latte.