Not to get all Guy Fieri on y'all, but we here at Sprudge love diner coffee, dive coffee, and of course, drive-in coffee. Or drive-thru coffee, as it stands in this case. And that's exactly what Fayetteville, Arkansas's Arsaga's Coffee Roasters is delivery up.
After nearly 30 years in business, the family-run coffee company is opening their sixth cafe location, but their first drive-thru, one that used to be a former meatloaf drive-thru spot at that. But don't let the homey past fool you, the newest Arsaga's is fit out is about as modern as they come. A Modbar AV, PuqPress, and all manner of Mahlkönig grinder, this ain't your granny's drive-thru. So grab your sunglasses, bleach your hair, and hop in that ole 1967 Chevy Camaro SS Convertible, we're heading to Flavor Town, which just so happens to be at Arsaga's Coffee Roasters in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
As told to Sprudge by Jason Arsaga.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
We're a family owned and operated coffee roaster with five cafes all on the south side of Fayetteville, Arkansas. We opened in 1992. We delight in making great versions of things that people often take for granted or have a low opinion of.
We hope to create spaces that we'd like to be in and work in… alongside our friends and family.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Our new space is a drive thru coffee spot that our community has lovingly renamed “Carsaga's.” This is our first and only drive thru. We made this spot for parents with cars full of kids that they can't drag into a cafe and for the people who want good coffee but don't want to put on pants or be social before coffee.
We built out this space to be efficient, ergonomic, and to reduce waste as much as possible.
The space was originally built to be a Rally's sometime in the 80's probably. At one point it was allegedly a drive thru meatloaf spot.
What’s your approach to coffee?
We make the coffee that we want to drink. We try not to chase fads but we also love the improvements that come from constant engagement and being aware of trends.
We tend to favor a medium to medium light roast for most coffees but we try to pay attention to what a particular coffee wants and to bring out what's best in it… not too light and not too dark but the sweetest spot we can get it to.
We're in an industry built on being the side hustle for artists. We try to harness and direct that powerful creative force. We're on a ride with coffee and each other.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
The drive thru gear features a two-group ModBar AV and Steam, Mahlkönig PEAK, Twin, and EK43 grinders, PuqPress, Curtis G4 batch brewers, Rhino pitcher rinsers, Acaia Pearl scales, Hario v60 scales, OCD V2 distributors, in counter milk ice bin, all cold coffees (flash brewed nitro and cold brew), and soda water on tap. We also have nice sounding Sonos speakers inside the building.
We built out the cafe so that we can add to it as we learn its limitations. The entire setup can be built again on the opposite side of the cafe if needed. So far this is our fastest and easiest to work bar.
For coffee we have a house espresso/batch brew blend named Daily Driver. As batch brew it's a bold medium dark cup with tasting notes of chocolate and walnut with an apple acidity. As espresso it's much sweeter and has tasting notes of chocolate, almond, and cherry.
We have a rotating single origin espresso and a decaf espresso. We have two cold brew options available at all times. One is nutty and mellow and the other is a wild card. We have two batch brew options available at all times. One is Daily Driver and the other is a rotating single origin.
How is your project considering sustainability?
This was a big concern for us going into such a disposable situation as a drive thru coffee spot. Our cups, lids, and straws are compostable. The city of Fayetteville is starting a restaurant food waste compost program very soon and we're one of their first participants. We currently compost our food and coffee waste but it's a big chore to keep up on.
We purchase milk from a local dairy named Ozark Mountain Creamery that uses glass bottle packaging. They sanitize and reuse the glass bottles. Their milk is very good too! Our loyalty card is a “bring your own cup” card. We give customers a discount for bringing a reusable cup and eventually they also get a free drink after purchasing 14 drinks. We offer a few of our food items in reusable glass jars that customers can return for a bottle deposit. We make our syrups and sauces in house under the name Queen Cadwallader's, and source all our chocolate from a local chocolate company named Markham & Fitz. Besides increasing quality, sourcing ingredients this way also results in a less waste and shipping.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We opened two weeks ago!
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
All of our carpentry and so much more is done by Marc Gunter and Al Kennet. Our signage was hand painted by Joe Alexander. Our metal menu boards were made by a local fabricator named Modus. Our flowers and trees were put in and are maintained by Rachel Lyons of Bee Well Gardens. David Lamont, Scott Manley, and Will Frith of La Marzocco/ModBar provided tons of help and ideas for this project.
Fiona Parson from Rhino made a lot of helpful gear recommendations. Ari Fasanella of Cafe Imports, Dean Kallivrousis of Ally, Jennifer Huber of Royal, and Mark Bray from Airship are green importers who all keep us informed about and supplied with great green coffees.
Thank you too!
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