I spent the better part of my twenties in Louisville, Kentucky, a city that, by all accounts, punches above its weight class. From fast casual barbecue to white tablecloth Mayan food, the culinary scene is surprisingly diverse, spurred on by low cost of living and a young, culturally-aware population. Many of the most exciting restaurants and cafés are independent, DIY passion projects– a little rough around the edges but driven by a salt-of-the-earth, Midwestern work ethic, with a generous portion of Southern hospitality. (As a river city straddling the Mason-Dixon line, Louisville is geographically, and culturally, confused.)
The unquestioned heart of Louisville’s counter culture is Germantown– a historic, working class neighborhood nestled between the old money neighborhoods of the Highlands and Old Louisville. Countless times, biking through Germantown, I would pass Haddad’s, an old garage situated where East Oak St. suddenly veers to the left, making a distinct V with East St. Catherine. The building was shuttered for some time, but I often thought it would make an amazing café.
Little did I know that one of my friends, Louisville coffee veteran Sarah Hewett-Ball, would help make that a reality.
Hewett-Ball is now the manager of Full Stop Station, a specialty coffee shop cum corner store. The shop opened this week, staffed with an enviable cast of many of Louisville’s most seasoned baristas. Although Hewett-Ball is the manager, the Full Stop has a collaborative approach to leadership. “It’s rewarding to see the ideas and planning put into functioning as a democratic cooperative play out in a very organic, positive & healthy way,” says Hewett-Ball. “Each time a decision needs to be made we have had the attitude of just doing the right thing even if it’s not the easy thing.”
The shop is serving San Francisco’s Ritual Coffee Roasters, a rarity in a coffee scene driven by local coffee roasters.
“We’ve worked extremely hard to keep things local and made sure that anything disposable is sustainable sourced and handled. For those reasons, at first glance using a coffee company from San Francisco may seem like a strange leap, but we wanted to bring in something new to Louisville,” says Hewett-Ball. “We felt that our good local options for coffee were quite saturated around town already and after learning more about Ritual’s sustainable & ethical practices– and melting into a puddle upon each tasting– there really was no question that we wanted to partner with this fantastic collection of coffee pioneers.”
But Full Stop has a surprising addition on the menu: biodiesel.
“We will be selling biodiesel made from waste cooking oil during the warm weather months. The store owner has an oil collection and biodiesel production company, Kelley Green Biofuel. This renewable fuel can be used in diesel engine vehicles (not gasoline engines), without modifications,” says Hewett-Ball. “We have some permitting issues to work out with the city before installing the tank as well. Selling fuel at our location is only possible because biodiesel is a non-hazardous material. I should also mention we have electric charging stations for vehicles so you can fuel up while you come in and relax.”
In my very biased opinion (Hewett-Ball was my manager two times over, having hired me at twice), Full Stop Station is a fuel injection into the Louisville coffee scene. With a great location, a seasoned staff, and industry-leading roaster, we expect great things.
All photos by Aaron Oneal.