Sometimes, checking up on an old workplace feels a little bit like running into an ex. In my case, Quills Coffee is the ex you’ll always have a special place in your heart for and would consider hooking up with again if your spouse died in a fiery plane crash. Perhaps it’s fitting that this Valentines Day Quills has a variety of oddly specific Valentine messages, which somehow feel universally relatable in our modern times….
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The Crossroads of America
Some would say it’s long overdue, others would say it’s long been underrated. Either way, Indianapolis’s food and beverage scene is gaining some serious momentum. Recent openings like Thunderbird and Milktooth prove that Hoosiers have a growing appetite for craft drinks. And as one of the Heartland’s largest cities, it’s not surprising that Indiana’s capital has attracted outside interest. It just so happens one of those companies is my other place of employment, Quills Coffee. …
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 …
Every coffee nerd’s significant other has asked themselves the same question during the holidays: “What was that coffee thing they were droning on and on about?” Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of the top presents every coffee lover is not-so-secretly hoping will be under the tree Christmas morning.
The World Atlas of Coffee: Second Edition
As we recently wrote, we think James Hoffmann’s magnum opus is the single most important book about coffee that’s been published to date. And now The World Atlas of Coffee has a second edition that includes more countries, including Uganda, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Hatfields London Nitropress
I asked Steve Rhinehart, brand lead at Prima Coffee, for his top holiday gift recommendation, and he came back with the Hatfields London Nitropress. Steve explains, “It’s is one of our premiere products for the year. It’s a compact system for making nitro coffee at home, in a small whipping siphon format. The key is that they use nitrogen gas capsules (rather than nitrous oxide) and have a patented dispensing nozzle that restricts flow rate just like a stout spout, giving you results just like a draft system. It’s legit, you get a proper creamy head rather than a fluffy mound of foam like you would with N2O. It’s a solid option for home brewers, or cafes that want to offer nitro by the cup rather than install a bulky system. Good option for bars that want to do nitro cocktails as well!”
Bonavita 8 Metropolitan Coffee Brewer
For years, we’ve recommended the Bonavita 1900 (and, more recently, the Bonavita 1901) as our favorite consumer coffee pot. Even though the value compared to price is incredible, we recognize a lot of consumers aren’t going to spend more than $100 on a coffee pot, which is why we were ecstatic when Bonavita released the 1901PW Metropolitan model. By scaling back on some of the more high-end features, Bonavita is able to sell the Metropolitan for $82 without sacrificing coffee quality. We have one in our kitchen and it’s become a regular part of our coffee routine.
Fellow Stagg EKG Kettle
The Stagg EKG Kettle has become a fixture in design-conscious cafés and kitchens everywhere, and the new matte white colorway, available exclusively from Fellow and our partners at Prima Coffee for the holiday season– has never looked better. You won’t find a kettle that gives you more control– over the temperature or your pouring technique. We just wish it came in European voltages too.
Buy it from Prima before December 9th with the code WHITESTAGGMAS to save ten percent.
Decent DE1+ Espresso Machine
This one is probably wishful thinking for most of our readers, but we know there’s got to be a few whales out there, or at least someone with a rich uncle (and while you’re at it, mind putting in a word for us?). The DE1+ is Decent Espresso’s home model, but make no mistake, this is a serious machine. The tablet display allows the barista to track certain metrics in real time, giving the user access to unprecedented data. Sadly, we haven’t gotten our hands on one, so this doesn’t amount to an endorsement, but the initial reviews have been great.
Quills Coffee Sweatshirt
I worked at Quills Coffee for almost six years, so I’m a little biased, but when I saw their pullover sweatshirt, I immediately regretted not having an employee discount anymore. It looks cool. It keeps you warm. What more do you want in a sweatshirt? This isn’t a sponsored post, but Quills, if you’re reading this, it could be.
Where the Wild Coffee Grows
Yes, there’s a lot of books on our list this year, but 2018 might have been the best year for coffee books ever, thanks in part to Where the Wild Coffee Grows. Author Jeff Koehler takes a deep dive into the wild origins of coffee in the forests of Southwest Ethiopia, and traces it’s expansion around the world. We learned a lot from this fascinating book, but it was Koehler’s beautiful prose that kept us turning the pages.
Don’t be fooled by the name. Cafiza isn’t just for cleaning espresso machines. It’s for cleaning anything that’s got coffee oil stains: your ceramic Hario V60, your travel mug, your canvas sneakers. Not convinced? Read our post “Nine Reasons You Need Some Cafiza in Your Life.”
Bonus Stocking Stuffer: Coffee Filters
Yes. This has been on our holiday gift guide before, but your coffee lover probably still needs more filters. We know we do.
Driving along Dickerson Pike in East Nashville, you can’t miss the brightly colored mural that has been added to the landscape. Take a closer look, and you’ll see the gold lettering and green interior of Retrograde Coffee. After a swift ninety day building period, the café opened on July 14. Before Retrograde’s opening, there wasn’t a cafe in the neighborhood. The community’s response has been positive– in the short time since they’ve been open, they’ve already established a base of regulars….
You’re probably ignoring the second most important ingredient in your coffee. Although coffee nerds meticulously select their coffee, equipment, and brewing techniques, most just use whatever water comes out of the tap. But water makes up more than 98% of filter coffee, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that water can radically change the way your coffee tastes.
The chemical composition of the water both affects how the soluble coffee particles are extracted and how those flavors are perceived when consumed. For example, softer water will accentuate a coffee’s bright, juicy flavors, while water that is overly-hard will like taste flat and astringent. But it gets more complicated. As Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood and Chris Hendon explain in their seminal book, Water For Coffee, although water hardness is determined by the cumulative ppm of dissolved minerals, it doesn’t tell you what minerals are present. This matters because minerals like calcium and magnesium aid coffee extraction and don’t negatively affect flavor, but other minerals like iron and sodium bicarbonate can have an off-putting affect on coffee flavor. In other words, water matters.
While serious coffee shops spend thousands of dollars on their water filtration systems, for most consumers buying filtered spring water is the only viable option. But different brands and even different bottles of spring water can have very different chemical compositions depending on the source water. This problem bothered a couple of coffee-loving entrepreneurs in Southern Ohio which led them to create a product they call Third Wave Water….
One of the most basic barista tasks is also the hardest to master. Over the course of a shift, a typical barista will pull hundreds of shots of espresso. In order to pull a decent shot, the barista must evenly distribute the ground coffee in the portafilter and compress the grounds with a nice, level tamp. It sounds simple enough, but after training dozens of baristas I can attest that it’s one of the last barista skills I see people master. Although steaming milk, pouring latte art, and making pour-overs might intimidate new hires, it’s tamping that keeps a self-aware veteran awake at night. Even a minuscule inconsistency in the distribution of the coffee can result in the dreaded phenomenon of channeling. Simply put, channeling is when …
We’ve been big fans of Collective Espresso since they opened their first location in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood almost three years ago. Since then we’ve seen them open what could be the perfect neighborhood coffee shop on the Northside of town. Their newest café in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati is their most refined and ambitious project yet….
By Eli Keel
Blueprint is a young company that’s already making a name for themselves, in part by their willingness to show up in strange places and offer people a chance to taste their wares.
Blueprint makes a point of getting out on the road once every couple of months; “It’s fun to get out and meet people and get direct feedback,” said Brian Levine. Levine is one of the six co-owners of Blueprint. Along with Mike Marquard and Kevin Reddy, a full half of Blueprint’s partners were in attendance.
Blueprint likes to keep their line small and diverse. At the cupping they showcased all five of their roasts.
All their coffee’s are single origins; two from Columbia, one each from Ecuador, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a decaf from Guatemala.
Co-owner Mike Marquard said a few words before the cupping began, asking if we had any newbies in our midst, and then declared that the noobs were now officially “coffee nerds.”
While no poll was taken, many of the tasters (including myself) gravitated towards the Columbian coffee. “El Derrumbo” had a strong bright taste that managed to avoid an outright acidty.
The attendees showcased a broad swathe of Louisville coffee culture, including (unofficial) representatives from Argo Sons, Quills, Heine Brothers, and of course the hosts from McQuixote. This may speak to an emerging Louisville coffee culture that can focus on beans and love of the craft just as much as market share.
While Blueprint has no current plans to infiltrate the Louisville market, partner Brian Levine has family here, so they will hopefully bring their excellent coffee back for another tasting next time they are out and about the mid-south.
Any entrepreneur will agree that steady growth in innovating new products is hard to maintain. Tyler Deeb could have easily walked away from one of the most successful playing cards Kickstarters of all time to return to a safe desk job. But he decided he was all in, and has returned to Kickstarter with an innovative coffee brew method. SAY WHAT?!? That’s right. Misc Goods Co. has partnered with Quills Coffee consultant, home roaster extraordinaire, and Coffee Compass guest blogger Chris Heiniger to bring you Coil, a cold brew coffee maker.
Misc. Goods Co. Coil Cold Brew
Coil is the first brew method of its kind, and can cool freshly brewed coffee from essentially boiling temperatures to near 48° in under 4 minutes without ever touching ice. Deeb explains…