Kentuckiana roaster/retailer Quills Coffee first opened in 2007 under the name “Quills Coffee and Books.” The original Kentucky St. location in Louisville’s Paristown neighborhood– long since closed — featured an entire wall of new and used books. It’s where I bought my first Dave Eggers novel, years before I would work at Quills, first as a barista and later as the company trainer.
Perhaps it’s fitting that Quills’s seventh café also has books. Actually, it has over 100,000 of them, only they’re not for sale.
Quills’s newest shop is located within the expansive Northeast Regional Library in Louisville’s Lyndon neighborhood. The eighteen million dollar facility, designed by JRA Architects, opened in 2019, marking the completion of the Louisville Library’s plan to close smaller, neighborhood branches in favor of larger regional facilities. The new Northeast facility serves over 170,000 residents that live in a five mile radius around the facility, and is the first library location to feature a privately owned café.
On my first visit to the Northeast Library Quills I enjoyed a small cup of Mexico, Chiapas produced by all-women producers within the GRAPOS Cooperative. Like I would expect from a Chiapas, the coffee was sweet with a mild but pleasant acidity. The sort of easy-drinking coffee I’m always happy to have in my mug. On my second visit I couldn’t resist trying a cappuccino, made with Quills’s trademark Blacksmith Espresso blend. It’s been almost three years since I was the educator at Quills, and I was happy to see Quills is still serving sweet, decadent cappuccinos with ample microfoam. (If there’s one trend that needs to die in 2020, it’s all of the flat whites masquerading as cappuccinos out there.) Unfortunately, the café can only serve coffee in to-go cups, motivated partly by the need to put lids on drinks in the main library.
On the way out, I perused the periodicals as my older brother checked to see if a book he ordered had come in at. Although I’m no longer a Louisville resident, the new Northeast Library had me wish I still had a Louisville Library card.