Conway’s Coffee Culture Thrives Among Students, Families

Coffee shops have been a focus in America’s history for a while, playing major roles in top-watched shows like “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” and  are now starting to make an appearance in Conway, Arkansas.

Conway’s coffee culture has begun to grow with the openings of three of the biggest coffee shops in town – Blue Sail Coffee, The Black Orange and, most recently, Zeteo Coffee.

“I want to see Conway to continue to grow its coffee culture,” Jonathan Tribble, former UCA student and owner of The Black Orange said. “Coffee shops are a homey place for people to go and relax and work in a friendly atmosphere.”

The three shops have all created their own identities since opening and, while they all serve the Conway community, tend to cater to different groups.

Blue Sail is widely known as the first shop to open and really push the coffee environment along. It was founded by UCA alum Kyle Tabor and draws many current UCA students.

“We are known for being very progress[ive]with our product,” Tabor said. “We push different ingredients, roast profiles, sizes and perspectives about coffee.”

Blue Sail is currently located in downtown Conway on Front Street, but will soon open a second location on UCA’s campus in Donaghey Hall.  According to Blue Sail’s Facebook page, the new location will open in late July.

The Black Orange, also located on Front Street, sets itself apart  by selling only “fairly traded coffee,” Tribble said. This coffee is bought from farmers who are compensated fairly instead of from vendors who sell coffee picked by child laborers.

According to a Log Cabin Democrat article, one of The Black Orange’s original owners was a Hendrix College alum and the shop’s name alludes to Hendrix’s school colors. This is unsurprising, as The Black Orange is less than a mile away from Hendrix.

Zeteo is located on Oak Street in downtown Conway. Zeteo owner Jon Mitchell focuses on “educating consumers in a way that doesn’t intimidate.” The shop buys its coffee from Onyx Coffee, a top roaster in the US located in northwest Arkansas.

“Coffee culture can be scary to new people that are used to chains like Starbucks,” Mitchell said, “Our goal is to help educate them in a welcoming way.”

While Zeteo hosts college students like the other coffee shops, it also has a focus on families. Zeteo and Share the Love Kids Club share a building and customers. According to the Share the Love web page, parents are encouraged to bring their kids to the kids club and then relax with a cup of coffee from Zeteo.

“I have been to all three places and they are very college student friendly,” UCA junior Maris Bellows said. “It is nice to be able to go somewhere outside of campus that you can study or hang out with friends in a chill setting.”

image via coolhunting.com

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