With competition-caliber baristas and a health-based menu, Kollective Coffee + Tea serves locals and tourists alike on Central Avenue.
Currently open from 8 a.m. till 3 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Wednesday and from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekends, Kollective offers a variety of coffees and teas, and healthier options for meals.
Kollective, owned by Kevin Rogers and his wife, Agnes Galecka-Rogers, celebrated its seventh anniversary in April. The couple previously owned Maxine’s, a downtown bar, for four years, but Kevin Rogers told The Sentinel-Record they decided to sell that business because of a lifestyle change.
“I grew up in Hot Springs and when I was a teenager actually Maxine’s used to be a coffee shop. It was Maxine’s International House of Coffee and that’s where I spent a lot of time in my teenage years and I went away to college and I spent about 13 years in southern California and coffee’s always just been kind of a big part of my life,” Rogers said.
“After we sold Maxine’s when our son got to school-age — the schedule didn’t really work out well for us — so we sold it to the now current owners and we took a little time and started planning Kollective because we just felt that a coffee shop was something downtown needed because at the time there was none,” he said.
Coffee has “just been something within my family. My mother was a big coffee lover. My older brother is as well and we kind of spread out across the map and that was something we’d always do for each other for holidays. We’d try to one-up each other with who could find the best coffee to send to that other person. In fact, during my time in California I was working in a corporate capacity and I would usually, part of my plan for finding a place to live would be its proximity to a good coffee shop, so it’s always just kind of been fuel that’s helped drive me in my life,” Rogers said.
“I think we take a little different take on our products. We were the first third-wave shop in town. The coffee that we use, we use Onyx Coffee out of northwest Arkansas, so it is a local staple for Arkansans,” he said, noting Onyx has won numerous awards such as the 2022 United States Brewers Cup Championship.
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“The most highly decorated coffee producer in the county, and they’re Arkansas based,” Rogers said.
The shop also sells over 54 varieties of loose-leaf tea, he said.
“We actually have a good mix with ours,” Rogers said of their customers. “We offer healthy food fare. It’s not something that you find in a lot of the restaurants downtown, so we definitely get a big tourist appeal because when you’re on vacation looking for a great cup of coffee or a healthy meal, you know you can find it here,” he said.
The shop also hosts Wednesday Night Poetry “which is the nation’s longest-running poetry open mic, every Wednesday night we have that and that draws a lot of our local crowds,” Rogers said.
“I actually attended Wednesday Night Poetry when I was a teenager when it started in ’89 and it bounced around different venues. When the Poet’s Loft closed, I actually owned Maxine’s at the time and they thought that was going to be the end of the Wednesday Night Poetry, and we gave them a home there,” Rogers said.
“When we were opening this Bud Kenny approached us and asked if we’d be interested in hosting just because of the interest we took in it, I think, when we had them at Maxine’s, and poetry and coffee are just such a good combination,” he said.
A lot of the locals are “health-conscious people,” Rogers said. “We have a lot of running clubs and biking clubs in town. The yoga school that’s right around the corner, a lot of those folks patronize with us.”
A change in lifestyle led to Kollective focusing on healthier foods. “Honestly the lifestyle for what’s drawing people to Hot Springs now, you know, with the mountain biking becoming such a big thing, and really just not being able to find it locally. It’s kind of a niche,” Rogers said.
“For us personally, my mother had contracted breast cancer, and when that happened, my wife and I made the decision ourselves to start eating clean, so we took that on in a personal role and when we started brainstorming for Kollective, we decided we wanted to offer that to the community, as well,” he said.
“We feel like we’re contributing something good in our menu,” Rogers said. We do different breakfast and lunch type of items. We have a pretty full menu for a place our size and a kitchen our size.
“I would say one of my favorites is the Blissful Balance, which is a naan bread with a pesto and a fried egg and you can get that as well in a vegan option and we’ll have hummus, of course, on the side as well. That’s one of my favorites.”
Rogers said they would like to expand, possibly open an additional location with a larger kitchen.
“We love this spot and intend to always be here because we feel like it kind of anchors a lot of what we do in the community. The stuff we offer with the Math and Science School next door and the poetry night and just the building itself, you know, being built in the late 1800s, we feel like it really represents a lot of what downtown Hot Springs has to offer,” he said.
Q&A with Kevin Rogers
The following are excerpts from the interview with Rogers, presented in a question-and-answer format:
Q: Favorite food of all time?
Rogers: Wow, my favorite food of all time. That’s a very difficult question. Maybe pizza.
Q: Go-to comfort food?
Rogers: Well, being a good Southern boy, raised by a good Southern mother, I’d probably say chicken and dumplings would be.
Q: Favorite restaurant anywhere?
Rogers: Yeah, also a very difficult thing to answer. I’ve lived in three states and I’ve traveled to 18, so trying to discern one specifically … I can tell you French food would probably be my favorite like sector of food.
Q: Favorite part of working in the Hot Springs area?
Rogers: The people that you get to meet. I mean we’ve met, just owning the coffee shop … a number of different celebrities, musicians, artists that just one way or another find their way through downtown Hot Springs.
Q: Advice for someone starting a restaurant?
Rogers: Be prepared to work. I think a lot of people think it’s an easy business to get into, that you’ll just be printing money, but it’s a 24/7 day a week job.