Let me begin with a confession. I’m an unapologetic coffee addict. This whole story began when I was doing research for my food tour. I was in downtown Hot Springs, looking for excellent places to eat, learning local history, and seeing how far it was between one place and the next. Every so often I would stop in somewhere and have a bite to eat and take pictures. That is what I was doing when I came to this house turned in to a coffee shop. As I drove up, I saw this little lending library next to the steps, which totally stole my reader’s heart. I parked, climbed up the few steps to the porch, and walked to the screen door which immediately reminded me of home. As I entered, the wonderful smell of coffee pulled me in.
I had happened upon Red Light Roastery, a newer coffee shop in town. Red light is located at 1003 Park Avenue, it’s almost out of town on the left-hand side of road inside this beautiful old 1880s bungalow. The feeling you get when you walk into Red Light is, in a word, inviting. The house itself is a part of that feeling, but it’s completed by the people inside. Adam Moore, the proprietor and roaster is a truly likable guy. Adam’s wife and co-owner, Briana works alongside him. Adam seems to be the more serious of the two, especially when he is making your coffee, and Briana has the sweetest smile I have ever seen. Rounding out the team at Red Light is Jen, the one other employee at Red Light. She fits in perfectly with Adam and Briana. Jen greets you with a smile and if she knows you, a hug isn’t far behind. Her personality lights up whatever room she is in. It’s the sincerity of their welcome that helps you feel as if you just walked into a place where everyone is family.
A few days ago I got to sit down with Adam to talk with him about the coffee shop. Adam is a soft spoken guy whose eyes are filled with kindness. He instantly puts you at ease and just seems to kick back in his chair, ready for whatever happens. But don’t let his relaxed air fool you; he is very passionate about what he does. This coffee shop is more than just a place of business for him. When asked what he loves about this place he looked around the shop and said, “everything”. One of the things that he told me about his shop stood out among the rest. He mentioned these glass snowflakes they hung in the windows last December. When they catch the light they shower prisms across the walls. He pointed them out to me and I watched as they danced around the room. I could definitely see how that would be a wonderful sight each day. As I look around the shop, I see the touches that they have placed here and there that add to the uniqueness and comfortable nature of the place. The bottle cap table in the corner, the cups of real spoons at the counter marked “clean” and “dirty,” the well worn wooden bench along the wall, and a hand written sign on the wall that lists the charity where the shop’s tips were donated that month.
Each question I asked was met with a smile and a generous answer. It’s nice to talk with a person who is passionate about what they do and is willing to share that with others. I had read that Red Light came to be because of a single cup of coffee given to Adam by his wife. When I asked him about it he laughed and admitted that he wasn’t an avid coffee drinking but that cup of coffee made him realize that there was much more to coffee than he had realized. Adam was born here in Arkansas, some miles down the road, and had dreams of owning a beer brewery someday. But, that’s not the direction he chose in the end. That single cup of coffee sparked an interest to learn as much as he could about coffee, so he decided to be a coffee roaster. When other people would have dabbled in the roasting process he didn’t. Adam said, “I didn’t want a hobby.” So he decided to embrace the coffee bean completely. And that began this journey to open Red Light.
During the course of the learning process he took a trip out of state to learn the ropes on how to roast coffee. He bought a roaster, just a small one, and began to roast coffee. And we are so glad that he did. He started just roasting coffee in the back room of this house and that progressed into what was just supposed to be a tasting bar but became so much more. It wasn’t long before that 1kilo roaster just couldn’t keep up with the customer demand. So Adam bought a bigger one and increased production.
Now, the next roaster up has been purchased along with a new bigger roasting location. Construction on the new roasting location has had many people thinking that the coffee shop was moving, me included.But on the front of the building you’ll see it says “Coffee House 2 Blocks” which has now become the official name of the new roasting location.Red Light hasn’t moved, now you just have better directions to help you find it. When asked about his plans for the future, Adam has a few. But according to him “they will all come with time.” Steady progress defines the way that he wants to succeed and I feel that outlook matches his personality.
While Adam roasts the coffee they sell, Briana makes the soap that Red Light carries. She has been making soap for over 10 years. Lark Martin soaps is her creation and there is a scent for every taste.These two artists have their own roles to play here at Red Light and they compliment each other wonderfully. Along with soap you’ll find beard oil and locally crafted coffee mugs, among other products. Their shop supports local business on many different levels including giving back by donating all their tips to local charities each month.
There are many things I love about Red Light Roastery but the coffee, of course, is the main attraction. I have tasted coffee from many different places in my life, but a small hole-in-the-wall coffee shop is always going to be my favorite. Oh sure, I got sucked in by the Starbucks revolution at first, but in my heart of hearts I always love just a regular old coffee shop, the kind that doesn’t need anything but it’s coffee to speak for it. The menu at Red Light is not large but it’s all you need when the coffee is as good as theirs. Adam’s knowledge of roasting coffee is vast. I’m sure that if you were to ask him he would tell you that he doesn’t really know all that much more than the next guy. But, the coffee he brews is some of the best I’ve ever had. During Summerfest this year Adam led an “Art of the Roast” workshop that I attended. I was intrigued, amazed, entertained, and educated. He shared enough of the process that I know there is a lot of science behind the roasting process, and at the end of the day, it is more than just knowledge and skill that makes the result delicious, it is an art. After the workshop we all received a bag of coffee. He either left it in bean form or ground it right then, just the way we wanted. I realized that day, that roasting a coffee bean is a lot more complicated that I ever realized. So, I think I’ll just stick with drinking it.
Through the course of opening a business in this town I have met many wonderful people and made many new friends. Many of those friends spend their time at Red Light Roastery. There’s just something about this place that consistently draws people in to have a cup. When I asked Adam’s thoughts on Park Avenue his eyes lit up because he believes the future of Park Avenue is going to be great. It’s definitely on its way. If we can get a few more places like Red Light to pop up along the sides of this busy street and they are half as inviting as Red Light, then Park Avenue will become the place to spend your time in Hot Springs.
So, don’t waste another minute, head on down Park Avenue, find this little gem, go on in and don’t forget to listen for the tale-tell slam of the screen door behind you. Order your cup of joe, and sit a spell. The coffee will be freshly roasted and ground and you’ll find you’ll keep coming back time and time again.
I have to go now because my coffee cup is empty and I have a bag of Red Light coffee calling me from my kitchen. Until next time, best dishes to you.
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