Arkansas is the South. But it feels a little Midwest too, and it certainly isn’t all heartland. It’s a complex state….
Well, we know how Kingsland, AR born Johnny Cash felt about his home state: “If I ever come back your way again remember who I am, I’m a natural actual real authentical Arkansas lovin’ man” – and that love for the place is hiding right here in Little Rock. It’s not the new Charleston, or the cool cousin of Raleigh, it’s very much its own thing – dappling along in its own wave.
Maybe that’s part of what attracted two brothers who came from Greece to set up in Little Rock, a very long way from home. Of course, it all started at a booth, at the Hillcrest Farmers Market in town; where it was all about home made pastries and pour-over coffees (but no Frappes). And, naturally, locals loved it too much, and so they needed to expand into a brick and mortar location – and recently they opened their very own roaster. With grandma’s recipes in their dreams too.
“My brother is the master baker and has always driven the food program,” says Markos Mylonas, the trained engineer bro. “I designed the renovation for the shop and together, along with other excellent folk, we built the shop you can visit today. And then I took on the roasting program and am currently the sole roaster.”
With wooden floors, this old dance studio space is now open to the public to pop in for some beans (usually very small batches from Café Imports to be exact), and, evidently, to see Markos working his beautiful roaster: a green Diedrich IR-5. But if you want to see more of these smiley, jolly Greeks go back to the café to see Stephanos who’s up very early in the mornings baking croissants — by hand, as if there could be another way? Or if you have more free time sit and chat to him about the abundance of fresh produce in the area, since they work with all the local farmers and producers, whilst he’s making you a pour-over to have with your Greek pastry.
“Although it may be common in other places, there was no other shop in Little Rock that set out to serve handcrafted food and specialty coffee roasted in house,” shares Markos. “We knew from the beginning that we wanted to not only take great care with our specialty coffee roasting and service program, but also to provide the same excellent quality in our made-from-scratch, locally and seasonally sourced pastries and food items.”
Much of their produce comes from a neighbor’s urban farm and their meats come from local farmers they’ve formed relationships with. Their eggs are delivered every week from a farm about an hour outside the city. “Even the flour in our pastries comes from a mill here in Arkansas,” says Markos. “Everything in our shop is made right here, and we take a lot of pride in being one of, if not the first, in our state to have that particular focus.”
They were one of the earliest adopters in the area of third wave methods — basically the third iteration of coffee consumption in the US, where drinkers have developed a more refined taste, and concern about the beans and the craft of brewing the coffee.
And locals will tell you just how grateful they are –- they’ve had to go to Memphis or Houston to find the good bean for too long. Oh and the Mylonas brothers were the first to serve pour-overs with V60s here. “Some baristas I’ve come across can be a bit pretentious and borderline hateful to customers who are unfamiliar with third wave terminology,” says Markos. “We wanted to stay away from that mentality and recognize that it was our job to teach our customers who didn’t know as much to love specialty coffee like we do. To do that, we have to be welcoming and unintimidating. We have to make it an inviting process. We want people to leave our shop feeling better than when they came in — not worse.”
“We see all kinds of people here,” says Markos. “The location is such a prime spot in this really sweet neighborhood in the middle of the city – surrounded by residential streets with lovely historic homes and lots of people just walking.”
For the brothers, Mylo was just a perfect fit for right here. Little Rock is, after all, this hidden gem that nobody talks about. It simply is overlooked.
“It is such a great place to live because the cost of living is so much lower than the better known cities of its kind, but one can still find incredible food, coffee, art, entertainment, green spaces,” says Markos. “There is also a burgeoning food scene here with loads of talent, so while we are incredibly proud of our little shop, we are even more excited to be one of many places to enjoy in this rockin’ little city.”
Soon they will start offering a subscription service, and gear up some more on the national shopping side — plus they want to get their borrowed hometown involved in its coffee. And so the new roaster area will be great for a primary training facility for their staff, or other baristas in the area, or naturally for a coffee inspired dance party. Or just a little ballet whilst cupping perhaps?
“We love our community coffee partners in crime and want to make our place a comfortable spot for folks from other shops to come in, hang out, and learn together,” says Markos, genially.
If you’re down in Arkansas make sure to pop by 2715 Kavanaugh Blvd, Little Rock.