Nostalgia in a Cup
The coffee shop holds a nostalgic piece of my heart as the place where I first experienced many cultural aspects of the city of Louisville. Like so many college students, I discovered the cafe environ as a place of respite, a cultural mainstay where society has no real expectations. A person can simply “be” in a cafe. I appropriated many cafes as study halls, although Quills Coffee stood out as one great oasis in a concrete desert of no-loitering zones. A few blocks from my house meant it could provide me caffeine and wifi for study sessions. It also provided a location for the romantic notion of meeting someone through some inexplicable fate. One should be young and dream.
Quills Coffee and Books
That cafe where I spent so many hours was closed in the summer of 2008- victim to its own popularity and a less than ideal leasing situation. But thankfully, like the Phoenix of Greek mythology, Quills emerged out of its own ashes into something greater. Quills reopened in 2009 in the Highlands, Louisville’s leading Bohemian neighborhood and long known as a counter-cultural bastion of independent business. In the new location Quills was free to re-imagine itself. They purchased a 3-group La Marzocco Linea, tossed out the “Books”, and began a journey into finding an identity in the craft coffee world.
Quills Coffee New Albany is Born
After serving coffee from roasters such as PT’s, Brown, and Sunergos Coffee, Quills co-owner and namesake Nathan Quillo wanted more creative control. Quillo brought on home-roaster John Letoto to head the roasting program and began searching Louisville for a second location to serve as a roastery. An unlikely storefront in Nathan’s native Southern Indiana opened up in the middle of historic, downtown New Albany. Quills New Albany was born.
Hand-crafted Eye Candy
The space also houses local woodsmiths, Thorpe Woodworks, whose products make up most of the cafe’s infrastructure, namely the espresso bar and tables. The space is big. The wood aesthetic and the giant windows of the storefront provides uplifting sensations amidst the industrial tactility of the ceiling and roasting space. It’s the type of cafe where you’re free to read, meet a friend, or bring your laptop.
The bar features a two-group La Marzocco Strada and you can always find the company’s flagship espresso blend “Blacksmith” dripping from its veins. Forged in the fires of Mount Doom (or at least that’s what hermitudinous might want you to think), this espresso blend has really developed over the past year. Nevertheless, if we could recommend anything to Quills it would be to offer a single origin espresso as well. The drip coffees, brewed on Fetco, Chemex, or Hario V60, are tasty and consistent. The barista team at Quills consistently pushes other shops in the area towards coffee excellence and have sourced some coffees that get the community excited.
Crafting Quality Coffee
With Letoto leaving in early 2013 for Houston, roasting transferred hands to Jesse Myers, a young coffee prodigy with enough zeal and dedication to bring Quills to where it is today. Jesse’s work has already attracted national acclaim. The shop was featured in Imbibe’s “100 Best Places to Drink in the South” and more recently one of their coffees was selected by Craft Coffee for their September subscription box. Craft chose Quill’s El Eden, a naturally processed coffee from Guerrero, Mexico from amongst 72 potential coffee candidates in a blind taste test. This selection will put Quills Coffee in more than 2,000 homes across America. Needless to say, it’s a big moment for Quills Coffee and another step forward for roasters in the Midwest. Sourcing, roasting and brewing quality coffee is not just for the coasts, and companies like Quills are proving that.
Making the Trip
Of the three shops Quills currently owns in the greater Louisville area, Quills Coffee New Albany, IN is our favorite location. For those of us who don’t make the journey across the river enough, we find it the right recipe for writers block, a meeting space, or, of course, caffeination.