I know what you’re thinking…”specialty coffee in Kansas?…ummm ok.” I was pleasantly surprised with the coffee options around Ft. Riley aside from the ever-wonderful Starbucks. And why shouldn’t the Ft. Riley area have specialty coffee made by an artisan? Manhattan is home to KSU, and since college = hipsters, the area caters to every man-bun sporting, fedora wearing, funky fresh 20-something out there. After all, everybody deserves to have a cute little flower design in their coffee…am I right? So, here are the top specialty coffeehouses in Manhattan, KS that you have to try before you die (or PCS, whichever comes first).
Ok, first of all (insert dramatic hand-wavy snapping finger motion), do you like cocktails? Why do I ask? Because not only does Arrow Coffee Co. have friggin awesome coffee, but they also have….you guessed it….cocktails. I feel like I shouldn’t be expected to explain further why you should check out this place, but I will because I need to paint the full picture and I like to hear myself type. The aesthetics of this place are on point for the nation (and if you’re at Ft. Riley, you’ll appreciate that phrase). Lots of natural light on the inside make it a great place to do some blogging, read a book, or even…drink your specialty coffee and feel like a boss cuz the foam has a design in it. And here’s a fun fact: Arrow Coffee Co. makes their coffee a little differently than other places because the size coffee doesn’t determine the amount of coffee you get. Enjoy a strong coffee? Order an 8 oz. Like it with lots of steamed milk and add-ins? Order a 20 oz. You get the same amount of coffee but each size is tailored to your coffee-taste preference.
Right and Up Tip: Gotta go with the classic Latte with one of their delicious Add-ins (brown sugar or dark chocolate perhaps?). Go ahead and order some Monkey Bread while you’re at it. You deserve it.
*Photo cred: Ezra Bengston
With 4 locations in Manhattan, there is no excuse for you not to try this place. Their first location is right in the heart of Aggieville and is where they roast all of the coffee for their other locations. The second is on Manhattan’s West side, the third on the KSU campus, and the fourth is their Bakehouse on the East side and my personal favorite. Everything is made from scratch! I mean, look at the picture people! No, that isn’t a bakery in Napa, CA. No, it’s not in France. It’s in Man-mothaeffin-hattan, KS. While all of their locations have that quintessential coffeehouse vibe, the Bakehouse is truly exceptional. Snag yourself a booth wrapped in tufted teal velvet and sink into a good book.
Right and Up Tip: Black Forest Mocha and a Pain au Chocolat or their house soup.
Located right on the main strip of Aggieville, Bluestem Bistro is definitely a local favorite. With their cool shotgun-style café and even cooler patio, this place is perfect to sit and enjoy the morning along with the many college students who come to study. Bluestem also sports an alcoholic drink menu with plenty of liquor-spiked coffee items to please your soul.
Right and Up Tip: If you get nothing else you HAVE to get the Heaven Breve. This is my all-time favorite coffee made with steamed half & half.
Photo by Sparrow Specialty Coffee
As far as specialty coffee goes, Sparrow has some of Manhattan’s best with a convenient location right off Poyntz Avenue downtown. Sparrow advertises itself as a “Slow Bar” which means that they weigh, grind and brew your coffee to order. If you’re looking for a quick cup of coffee and don’t care where it comes from, don’t come here. However, if you have a few moments to appreciate how your coffee is made and talk to your barista, head to a “Slow Bar” like Sparrow. The coffee may take a bit longer to make than you’re used to, but the end result is well worth it.
Right and Up Tip: Make sure you add a house-made syrup to any of your drinks!