Entrepreneurial spirit led coffee enthusiast to open shop

By Bryan Richardson

Good things don’t happen out of the blue.

For many people, years of preparation go into their work.

That’s certainly true enough for David Adkins, 26, who started Arrow Coffee Company in August 2013.

A lot of stops along the way contributed to the opening of that shop.

Adkins started working with coffee as an employee at Bluestem Bistro more than six years ago, when he moved to Manhattan to attend Kansas State.

He said the experience had quite an impact on him.

“I realized that a coffee shop tends to be a center to a community,” Adkins said. “In our society, we’re becoming more disconnected.”

Even before that, Adkins — who grew up in Kansas City —  said he’s always had the entrepreneurial spirit inside him.

“I was kind of the unique one,” he said. “I was always starting new projects or groups.”

That began in elementary school, with Adkins doing everything from mowing lawns to attempting to make cologne out of soap at school — hoping to sell it to his classmates.

“I used to start little businesses all the time in elementary school, selling stuff to my friends,” he said.

Adkins continued starting up projects as a K-State student.

He helped begin Bike Night, which serves the international student community by repairing and giving away bicycles.

Adkins attended Kansas State off and on from 2008 through 2011 as an entrepreneurship major, but that didn’t exactly get him where he was hoping to go.

“I guess the entrepreneur in me got the best of me, and I decided to go ahead and do it,” he said.

Adkins worked at Meadowlark Hills for a year and a half in 2012 and 2013 prior to starting Arrow.

During that time, he added an espresso bar into the existing cafe space for the residents.

“It gave me some of the tools and know-how to do that again,” he said. “It helped me work through a lot of early processes.”

Adkins said he did his research, but he didn’t necessarily reach a point of comfort before deciding to start the company.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever reached that point,” he said. “It was a calculated risk, but it’s still always been a risk to start something new.”

The shop, across from Goodnow and Marlatt halls at 1800 Claflin Road No. 160, has seven employees, including Adkins, and most are K-State students.

“We try to find a way to blend what they’re studying in their majors into their work here,” Adkins said.

This means an accounting major does bookkeeping and a marketing major works on projects that involve getting the word out.

Adkins said the shop reflects his personality.

“I found I like doing something that’s hands on,” he said. “I like crafting and building something where you can see change occur throughout the process.”

Adkins built much of the furniture in the shop with help from a friend, as well as refurbished the equipment.

“Each piece has been carefully chosen and hopefully communicates the message of careful preparation and craft,” he said. “It’s a very personal thing. It wasn’t just we went online and bought some tabletops. We chose the wood and built it ourselves.”

Adkins said he prefers the hand-crafted approach at Arrow.

The method involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds, which drips out of the filter into the cup.

“We feel like it demonstrates a message to our customers about the quality and care that goes into the coffee,” he said. “We prepare it in a way that’s aesthetically appealing to the customer.”

Adkins said he received inspiration from other coffee shop owners, including Kevin Pierce of Bluestem and Wade Radina – owner of Radina’s Coffeehouse and Roastery.

He said he’s been blessed to have community support.

“It’s been great to join up and be a part of that,” he said. “One of the wonderful things about Manhattan is the camaraderie.”

As part of that community experience, Adkins is more than happy to contribute some coffee and conversation.

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