Blue Sail Coffee has been quietly turning out some amazing coffee in Conway for the past couple of years. The cozy confines of their Downtown, Front Street location has become a favorite for Conway locals, even spinning out a fellow coffee shop. It is still a relative unknown to most people who rarely venture outside Little Rock, which is a shame because they are brewing up some of the best coffee in the state.
The cozy, subtle, humble mystique of the original location is easy to pass over and easy to overlook. For their second location, Blue Sail went in a different direction that you will quickly remember. It is situated on one of the busiest corners on the UCA campus in the boldest new building, Donaghey Hall. If you have trouble finding it, look under the 25 ft tall glistening metal bear. You can’t miss it.
Inside you will find the same contrast between old and new. The original location is dark, rustic, and comfortable. The new location is bright, modern, and efficient. The flow moves well in the door and back out, perfect for the grab and go nature of being on campus. The 25 or so seats inside are comfortable, but not the type you sink into for hours while you catch up with old friends. Instead it is a place you put the finishing touches on the paper you are about to turn in, or respond to a few emails while you sip on the only thing keeping you going after being up all night, some good quality coffee.
The coffee has come a long ways since the original location’s opening. Not that it was ever bad, but certainly nowhere near the quality they are turning out now. There is a big focus on turning out high quality coffee, something you wouldn’t expect out of a place like Conway. They roast their own beans and are starting to supply for places like Big Orange and Lost Forty, people who are notorious for trying to find perfect products.
“We spend a lot of time sourcing and roasting our beans. It is something that is very important to our overall operation,” director of roasting Andy Pickle tells us. “We also take it a step further, in things like our pumpkin spice latte we are taking real pumpkins and turning it into our own syrup, not just sprinkling in a pre-made batch of spices. It takes a little extra effort, but it makes a big difference in the final product.”
It does seem to make a huge difference, everything from their pour over to a cortado seems to be thoughtfully made. Even more so in the new Donaghey store, which has brought in the very best American-made espresso machine available. The forward thinking approach keeps things both efficient for the quick service nature and tasting better than ever.
The big part of the new Blue Sail is not even the coffee, it is the food. The downtown location offers a pastry here and there, but mostly it is a coffee centered spot. Food is front and center in the new location, and you are missing a lot if you only come for coffee.
“We really wanted to take a progressive approach at the food we serve here,” owner Kyle Tabor tells us. “We wanted to take Conway food in a new direction and offer something not found around town. We are focusing on fresh, local items made from scratch that bring exciting flavors. ”
On the menu we found things a selection of different toast with toppings like avocado with prosciutto and fig with apple along with a good selection of sandwiches. The best may be the breakfast tacos, something I wish I had the ability to grab during my time in college. We gave both a roasted chicken taco and a potato taco a try and found them both excellent.
Blue Sail’s Donaghey location is certainly geared toward students, but there are plenty of reasons for any coffee lover to stop in. The food adds a nice well-rounded approach to an already solid coffee lineup. Check them out next time you are in Conway.
Blue Sail Coffee
250 Donaghey Avenue
Open 7 am – 7 pm Weekdays | 9 am – 7 pm Saturdays | 12 pm – 7 pm Sundays