The sudden surge in Little Rock coffee shops, especially downtown, is hard to ignore. Over the past 5 months we have seen four coffee shops open, one change ownership and start a new push, an existing business add a strong coffee presence with a new location, and two roasteries.
That is a lot of coffee for one little city. The only way to stay ahead in that type of environment is to stand out with something unique, which is exactly what the newest opening, Nexus Coffee, is doing.
For starters, Nexus has partnered with longtime Little Rock roaster Leiva’s Coffee. It makes it essentially the de facto flagship outlet for Leiva’s, something the roaster really needed to showcase their product.
Secondly they are getting very creative with their coffee, the level of creativity is about the closest thing to an Onyx Coffee Lab we are going to get in Little Rock any time soon.
They are the only coffee shop in town using nitro on their cold brew, which creates a rich velvety texture to the coffee. They take it one step further by running other creative coffee based drinks through the nitro system. Currently they are running a chocolate stout coffee that taste very similar to a typical nitro cold brew, but with a good dark chocolate nose. They also are running a blueberry basil that has just a hint of coffee, but is much sweeter and approachable for a non-coffee drinker. It drinks almost like a fruit based tea more than coffee.
“We wanted to bring something a little different than what is found across Little Rock coffee shops,” co-owner Amy Moorehead says. “It is a trend catching on at other coffee shops across the country, but we think we are ahead of the game in Little Rock.”
Along with the nitro cold brew they are also doing creative pairings on the espresso side. They have a double espresso and chocolate that comes with a double espresso shot, seltzer water (palate cleanser), and a couple of pieces of Cocoa Belle dark chocolate to pair with the espresso. The result is a fun and interesting way to enjoy your espresso.
They still offer up the typical coffee shop favorites, all created from their very strong barista staff who have come from some of Little Rock’s best coffee shops. They also feature a good selection of teas, including matcha which I hope catches on well. If you are in the mood for something a little more festive, they have a lineup of local craft beers and wine as well.
On the food side they are offering up a number of options from premade Cocoa Belle, Honey Pies, and Dempsey Bakery. They also have a small kitchen where they cook a number of fresh items, something that is a welcome addition from all the reheated or microwaved food items of neighboring coffee shops.
The space itself sets itself apart too. Being located in the heart of the tourist area of Clinton Ave it catches an entirely different crowd than neighboring Blue Sail or Zeteo does. The space plays to the crowd well with room for live music in the front of the area that is used at night later in the week. They also have a rentable private conference area, which is a huge addition and I am surprised more coffee shops do not invest in this type of space.
Overall Nexus combines unique coffee with a perfect for the location space. Despite the uptick in coffee, it should thrive in the location and manages to become more than just another coffee option.