I spent the majority of my office working career in downtown Little Rock. One thing that always astonished me was the lack of good coffee. All the office workers going in and out of the bank buildings, ad agencies, government offices, and the law firms suing all of them, the only caffeine to find mostly was some insufficient grounds.
There have been several attempts to change this, many of which failed for various reasons rarely related to the coffee shop going in. Finally a quality coffee shop managed to open up. Blue Sail Coffee officially opened the doors quietly over the weekend, and my guess is that they will find a lot of success.
The new location is on Main street between 4th and Capitol in the new Technology Park Location. The location should provide them a built in base of customers coming and going from the technology park, plus easy access for others in the general area to walk in from the street. It sits just inside the entrance of the Technology Park, and while the space is shared with the center, it does give them a considerable upgrade in seating compared to their previous expansion in Midtown Conway.
The seating is a good mix of casual and work driven seating. I appreciated the popup power connectors on the pub style tables, often when you sit in the middle of the room you are stranded without any power. This solves that problem. There is additional seating upstairs that coffee goers can use as well.
Blue Sail will cover a typical line of coffee and espresso drinks. For food they will have a few offerings from Honey Pies, Dempsey Bakery, and house made pastries from their Conway location. From Honey Pies they will offer breakfast calzones, which sound amazing, along with their cinnamon rolls and oat bars that are served in the WLR pie shop.
Covering coffee heavily over the past few years looking at everything from mom and pop operations to world class coffee shops, there are two things that I have found make a good coffee shop. Quality of beans and barista training. Blue Sail hits both well.
In your standard black coffee the beans really shine and the quality comes out strong. Blue Sail’s are probably #2 in the state right now, which is saying a lot considering #1 (Onyx) frequently wins national awards. The beans are high quality and I fully expect those to only get better as their roasting program grows.
On the other side for espresso drinks, barista training is critical. There are so many that do not appreciate the science and art behind a good espresso pull. What separates a decent coffee shop from a great coffee shop is taking the time to produce a consistent training program. In reality it needs to be treated like a bar program, with training, guidance, and continuing education. If you have ever had a waitress make you a cocktail at a restaurant you know the quality difference between that and a seasoned bartender. It is the same with coffee.
Swing in and check out Blue Sail, it finally brings good coffee to downtown. They are open 7 – 7 Monday thru Saturday.