In the decades since I grew up there, much has changed in Northwest Arkansas. There is a vibrancy now that is reflected in new businesses, restored, and reinvented historical structures, and trail systems that connect art centers, natural areas and gardens. One of my favorite things to do on a visit is to have coffee with my nephew, who attended high school in Bentonville and returns to the area during college breaks. So let’s look at three coffeehouses with character through the eyes of two generations.
Heroes Coffee Company – A Quiet, Creative Escape
Wake up. Do good things. Repeat. The motto of Heroes Coffee is inspiring – and inspired. Walk past the menu, the large glass view of the roasting area, the bags of Heroes coffee for sale, the bunk booths (more on that later) and you will find a framed certificate and flag. Follow Heroes Coffee Company on Facebook and you will see they often give back to organizations.
Ah, but I did get back to the counter, where I ordered a very, very rich The Hero, with dark chocolate and toffee. As I sipped at the wood bar and studied the roasting equipment behind glass, my feet resting on metal bars that accented the stools and wood, I heard many others ordering this popular drink. Customers could also view the roasting equipment from the outside tables or the ‘bunk booths’, creatively designed booths at two levels. I was not inspired to climb metal steps to a top booth but could see the charm.
The background music at Heroes Coffee Company made it easy to spend time sketching and writing even though many people were coming and going. I was touched by the eclectic assortment of houseplants in the shop, not placed by some plant service, but obviously cared for by the staff. My nephew said Heroes was one of his favorite destinations when he wanted to concentrate, with a quieter atmosphere.
Address: 124 SW 8th Street, Bentonville AR 72712 (Also 5102 Pauline Whitaker Pkwy, Rogers)
Coffee comes from: worldwide, roasted there
My drink: The Hero (of course!) – dark chocolate and luscious toffee
Also offers: Hot chocolate, 100% fruit smoothies, chai, matcha latte, Italian soda, seasonal drinks, pastries
Coffee Bar at Eleven, Crystal Bridges Museum – Immersed in Art and Architecture
Yeah, the American art museum. With free admission and parking, there is no reason you can’t meet a friend for coffee or lunch at Eleven and then spend some time strolling the wooded grounds, touring the Frank Lloyd Wright house (make reservations for the FLW house online before you arrive), viewing the galleries, or enjoying the gift shop. It is also a great place to go with just your thoughts, camera or sketchbook.
A friend and I opted out of the lovely indoor seating area with views of the spring fed pond and dramatic architecture. We went out the doors to the side of the coffee shop and down a long flight of steps to the waterside patio. The coffee bar conveniently has a few wine selections, so we chatted at an outside table, me with a hot coffee and my friend with a glass of wine. We then toured the Frank Lloyd Wright house. I then ran into my nephew and walked around the exhibits with him for a bit. He had left his car downtown after lunch with a friend and walked Bentonville’s wonderful trail system for about ten minutes to get to Crystal Bridges.
Address: Inside Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, AR
Coffee comes from: Oynx Coffee, Bentonville
My drink: Milky Way – Expresso, steamed milk, dark chocolate, salted caramel
Also offers: Craft soda, local cocoa, tea, smoothies, seasonal drinks, wine, baked goods, chocolate bars. Restaurant in the same area offers meals and desserts.
The Meteor Bentonville – Coffee, Wine and Bikes
Northwest Arkansas has a wonderful trail network and Bentonville is the “Mountain Bike Capital of the World”, so a bike shop with a coffee café/ wine bar makes tremendous sense. At the time I am writing this there are only two locations of this business with a memorable motto of Expresso. Champagne. Chain Lube. – Bentonville, AR, and Austin, TX.
For more about this Mountain Bike trail, see this article as shared by the tourism board.
The delicious latte was attractively presented in the best cup and saucer (which is for sale in the shop – why didn’t I buy one?). We took our lattes outside and I asked my nephew where the nearest bike trail was. He laughed. “I think you are always about 15’ from a trail in this town.”
Address: 401 SE D Street, Bentonville, AR
My drink: Latte
Also offers: Wine, craft beer, ice cream, and a menu that includes house-made baked goods, tacos and avocado toast, plus a nice line of signature Meteor items.
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