Coffee is a fruit. Or, to be a little more precise, coffee is the seed of a fruit. Like any other fruit, the cultivar, or variety, of a given coffee has a tremendous impact on its flavor profile. I’m not sure if coffee cultivars were the inspiration behind Cultivator Coffee & Other Plants but it certainly seems an appropriate name for the New Albany, Indiana café.
Located just across the Ohio River from Louisville’s West End, New Albany, Indiana is a quaint Midwestern town that feels lifted from a Norman Rockwell painting. Though one might be tempted to view the city as merely a northern suburb of Louisville, that would be wrong. The town is fiercely proud of its independent identity, and many residents only venture south of the state line under duress.
The shuttering of Quills Coffee’s New Albany café left a gap in the local community, and husband and wife team Jon and Allie Dunn have stood up to fill it. Although the couple is new to retail coffee, Allie also works with online coffee distributor Prima Coffee — a long-time supporter of the specialty coffee community.
The interior design at Cultivator is very contemporary. True to name, there are plants everywhere. Unlike the cold, sterile interior copied by so many in recent years, the shop maintains a homey feel, and not just because it’s located in a 1930s house. A selection of board games harkens to another era of coffee shops; back when the third-space concept felt new and compelling. At Cultivator, you’re encouraged to stay a spell.
The coffee at Cultivator is provided by Louisville’s Sunergos Coffee and Wilmington, Deleware’s Brandywine Coffee. I enjoyed a pour-over of an Ethiopia Worka, brewed on an Espro Brewer. The coffee proved to be both fruity and floral, with the jammy notes one expects from a natural Ethiopia.
Perhaps Cultivator Coffee & Other Plants has nothing to do with plant cultivars, and everything to do with the fact that coffee cultivates community. Regardless, every small Midwestern town should be so lucky to have a coffee shop like this one.