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MADISON’S GUIDE TO LOCAL COFFEE SHOPS

BY MADISON PITSCH 

Fort Smith is currently experiencing a kind of “third-wave” coffee renaissance. Being the resident coffee addict, I decided to drive all over Fort Smith to find the greatest coffee spots and lay it all out for you.

I understand that hot coffee in the summer is probably the least appealing thing in the world.  For Pete’s sake, we’re smack dab in the middle of the Dog Days. However, my caffeine-fueled research suggests that the Fort Smith coffee scene is just cool enough to make up for it.

Fort Smith Coffee Co


Your new go-to for the ultimate hipster experience. Complete with fresh flowers.

Address: 1101 Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith
Price: $$$
Service Speed: Fast enough not to get angry from waiting.
 
Atmosphere: The outside of the building looks rough and old- this used to be a service garage, so that makes sense.  The interior brick is “distressed” and painted with teal and white paint, with walls topped with murals and artwork,described as “hip, 2017-esque, coffee shop art.” Large window panes line the street-facing side, letting natural light in. Background music is 10/10.

Things I Tried:

Iced Coffee - Holy cold! Kind of bitter and everything you’d expect from the classic iced coffee. Life lesson-Anything can be solved with a few Splenda packets.

Spiced Chai Latte - I have found foam-paradise in the form of this chai latte. Perfectly cinnamon-y to the point where you don’t feel like you’re choking down tablespoons of spices, but you also don’t feel like you’re drinking hot milk.

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Final Notes: You could hang here for hours. I feel like it’s upping my cool factor as I write. It’s perfectly hipster.


Sweet Bay Coffee Co

Your favorite meetup spot.
 
Address: 3400 Rogers Ave #110, Fort Smith
Price: $$
Service Speed: Reasonable - in the way that small chain restaurants usually are. I can appreciate consistency.

Atmosphere: Sweet Bay Coffee Co feels like you’ve paid off all of your student loans, are currently wearing a blazer and heels and you might consider running for president. It’s a place where you could bring your family on a Tuesday. Stucco walls and respectable wood tables dress up the interior. Sweet southern country music plays through the speakers. The outdoor patio looks it would be a dream to hang out on during the last months of Fall. Sweet Bay nailed “casual elegance.”

Things I Tried:

Iced Chai Tea - It tastes like you’re drinking cinnamon toast crunch milk after you’ve eaten all of the cereal. It’s weird, but you’re still going to drink it.

Original Mocha - I should have assumed that these drinks were going to be sweet… it’s not called Sweet Bay for nothing. This mocha was a beautiful little chocolate mess with whip cream on top. I can dig it.

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Final Notes: Sweet Bay Coffee Co. is a calm, family-friendly environment where I would want to meet my friends to catch up.


The Coffee Cup

Your favorite quiet place.

Address: 7110 Rogers Ave, Fort Smith
Price: $$$
Service Speed: Good service.

Atmosphere: Inside walls are painted cappuccino- calming and somewhat ironic.Canvas and burlap coffee bags hang from the back wall. A mural of a tree labeled with types of coffee takes up the entirety of the side wall. It was super quiet, with background elevator jazz music that really elevates this experience to the next classiness level. Imagine that you’re on an elevator all alone and you’re drinking your sorrows away with caffeine. That’s what it felt like.

Things I Tried:

Vanilla Latte - Not the sugary sweet vanilla latte of your high school days. This latte doesn’t mess around and lets you know that with the perfect espresso-y aftertaste, completed with the perfect latte art. What a dream.

Spiced chai latte - Best described as not super heavy. Spiced to the point of perfection.

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Final Notes: Overall, it's great coffee. If you’re looking for a quiet place to write a ten page paper, this is your spot. My favorite part? The elevator jazz music!


Moka Joe's

Your everyday spot for your 2 p.m. caffeine pick-me-up.

Address: 9207 US-71
Price: $$
Service Speed: Good - nice baristas are great.

Atmosphere: This tucked away cafe is super cozy and comfy. Plus they have spinning chairs! I don’t know if it gets better than that. While this coffee spot does have a bit of a commercial feel to it because of the drive-thru, it doesn’t feel so commercialized that it couldn’t be your new favorite place to get coffee.

Things I Tried:

Moka - Plain and simple, this drink was delicious. When I think of mochas I kind of grumble a little because you are taking perfectly good espresso and hiding it with sugar. Not so in this case. It’s got just enough sweetness in it to keep you coming back.

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Final Notes: My only regret is that I didn’t find this place sooner. It’s yummy, affordable and cozy. The three pillars of a good coffee shop.


Artistic Bean

Your new favorite book club hangout.

Address: 615 Garrison Ave, Fort Smith
Price: $$$
Service Speed: Good service plus a personable bro-ista.  He recommended decaf to me after I told him I had had four cups of coffee that day. Love a barista that cares.

Atmosphere: The Artistic Bean is a really pretty mix of just about everything imaginable. You want wall paintings? Check. What about inspirational quotes about coffee? Yup. Bookshelves full of books? A coffee spot with a view of Garrison? Check, check. They roast their own beans, so you could say they’re pretty hard core. Also, you can purchase art here. There’s a lot going on but somehow it all works together. It seems like the place you can have a book club meeting. I say that because that’s where my book club has met, and I was definitely right.

Things I Tried:

Decaf Mocha Latte - At the beginning, very chocolatey. At the end, perfect bitter coffee taste. I can dig it- Having it iced was a great way to beat the heat.

Dulce de Leche Latte - Woohoo for one of my favorite treats being transformed into coffee! I got an 8 ounce hot version of this latte and I enjoyed every second of it, and literally I mean seconds because I drank it so fast. It’s got a chameleon type of flavor, where you could enjoy it in any season.

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Final Notes: Coffee: Good. Atmosphere: Busy. Liked it? Yes.


Savoy Tea

Your new favorite Instagram-able tea/coffee spot.

Address: 925 Garrison Ave, Fort Smith
Price: $$
Service Speed: Slower side, but they were busy.

Atmosphere: Have you ever wondered what life would be like if all of your Home Décor Improvement pins on Pinterest became reality? Look no further than Savoy Tea Company. It is the perfect mixture of Southern charm, British-royalty approved tea equipment, and all of your favorite pastel millennial colors. As if that wasn’t a good enough reason to go to Savoy, they serve your drink in Mason Jars. There is a word for that - millennial heaven.

Things I Tried:

Ozark Sunset (Tea) - The perfect summer-y tea to compliment those hot August dog days. It’s fruity, light and just what you didn’t know you needed. Black tea, strawberry, orange and lemon never had it so good.

Country Gentleman Latte (Frozen) - HOLY GUACAMOLE THIS WAS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COFFEE DRINK I HAVE EVER SEEN. Served up in a mason jar with a towering blob of whip cream this is by far one of the best frozen coffee drinks I’ve ever had. Just sugary enough to make me type in all caps for a little bit, but not so sugary that I feel like I’m going to be bouncing off of walls.

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Final Notes: In true Fort Smith fashion, nobody saw this coming. A place that focuses on tea? Very unexpected and very Fort Smith.