Roots

From blueberries to coffee cherries. 

Our roasting business was born in response to the need to create demand for coffee growers that we were working with. Mark was completing his masters degree in horticulture, with the intention of starting a blueberry farm in Arkansas, when he had the opportunity to travel to Central America to help set up sustainable agriculture projects with coffee growing communities in Honduras and Guatemala.

Not just a cup of coffee.  

It was there that he fell in love with coffee; the growing, post-harvest processing, roasting, cupping and complexities of building a supply chain from tree to cup.  
Mark's sensory education started in an exporters cupping lab in Guatemala City, where he learned the process of cupping from top cuppers in the country.  This was where he discovered the diversity of coffee flavor and the flavor subtleties of Guatemala’s growing regions, terroir, elevation and other variables affecting quality. From there he began developing the rich relationships that are still present in our business today, more than ten years later. 

Making a place where authentic community thrives. 

In 2010 alongside his day job as an agriculture extension agent for the University of Arkansas, Mark moonlighted as a coffee roaster and launched Airship’s wholesale roasting business.The business grew 300% the first year and at the time there just wasn’t much competition in our area of Northwest Arkansas.

As the third wave cafe trend swept middle America and new players entered the scene, competition grew. Under the wholesale model, it became more evident that without an Airship branded, customer-facing experience we were missing out on the opportunity to share our unique story with our community in a more personal way. Nevertheless, we had a loyal customer base and as foot (and bike) traffic picked up in our neighborhood, we felt like the time was right to add a retail experience. So, in 2018 we decided to open our coffee bar at the roastery. 

We quickly realized that our coffees weren’t the only unique experience we could offer. Our customer-focused service style and casual atmosphere offered a low-key, comfortable space where our community could relax. With the addition of our open-air cafe in the Coler Mountain Bike Preserve, we’ve found even more meaning in our retail mission of making a place where authentic community thrives.  

AIRSHIP Updates