Hot Springs is where I first discovered the joys of the coffee shop, hanging out with friends and reading bad poetry at the late, great Magee's on Central Avenue. And while I recall enjoying the coffee back then, I know now that it wasn't really anything special—the coffee scene here in the state was nothing like it is now. These days, Hot Springs is home to one heck of a coffee house named Kollective
, and I can assure you all that there is something quite special about this place.
I stopped into Kollective the other night after an evening of looking at the Christmas lights downtown, and the staff were just the sort of warm and friendly that a chilly winter's night requires. I ordered a plain latte, which is my usual drink of choice in places like this, and I was impressed with the full-bodied, delicately flavored mug I received. The coffee itself was clean and bright, and the foam on top was thick and dense, lasting until almost the last sip. It was a really perfect drink.
But where Kollective really blew me away was with their nitro tap cold brew. For those of you who aren't familiar with cold brew, you need to be. Steeping coffee in cool water allows for a sweetness and richness of flavor to develop that is different than traditionally brewed coffee, making it a delight to drink. In recent years, folks have started running this cold brew coffee through the same sort of nitrogen tap system used for Irish Stouts like Guinness, resulting in a creamy, smooth drink that embodies all the wonderful mouthfeel of a great stout with the caffeinated jolt of a great cup of coffee. And you can have a couple of these without having to worry about driving afterward!
Also of note at Kollective is a selection of homemade kobucha, made by an employee of the shop. I picked up a bottle of the ginger-flavored variety to carry home with me and drank it the next day. It's really good stuff. Not as sour as some varieties I've had, and more flat than I usually like, the powerful ginger flavor melded with the delicate taste of the fermented tea to make a drink that was at once cool and refreshing yet left me feeling warm. I hope that this kombucha brand takes off—mostly because I would love to see it on the shelves here in Little Rock.
I think Kollective is pouring coffee as well as anyone in the state—and I say this as someone who loves places like Arsaga's, Mama Carmen's and Mylo Coffee Co. It's a wonderful addition to downtown Hot Springs—and a wonderful addition to our growing Arkansas coffee scene.