We’re beyond chuffed to announce we wrote an article about the Louisville coffee community for Fresh Cup Magazine, which was published in their June issue. The article’s title, “The Kentucky Coffee Scene is Decadent and Delicious”, is an allusion to Louisville native Hunter S. Thompson’s famous essay about the 1970 Kentucky Derby. We shared some of the background behind Louisville’s burgeoning craft coffee culture and the shops that make it what it is today, including Sunergos, Quills, Argos Sons, and Gralehaus. Ben Willis of Firm Anchor Photography supplied the photos, which are gorgeous as always. You can read the story online or most likely in your local coffee shop.
Our intimate coffee community in Louisville recently lost one of its brightest young coffee professionals to the coffee Mecca known as Seattle. We were excited to catch up with Chris Elliott at SCAA and ask him a few questions about his new role at Slayer Espresso.
It’s safe to say a lot of baristas would kill to work for a company like Slayer (get it?). What exactly will you be doing? Is this your dream job?
Usually, my work here fits quite neatly in a couple of categories: marketing and content. My job is to make Slayer look good, mostly through social media and writing for our website. Slayer is a small company, though, so I wear a lot of hats. Actually, I joke that I own the hat store. That should hint at the range of my work. Also, isn’t there a word for “hat store”? Let me ask @hermitudinous. Anyway, I’ve joined some serious momentum because the product has already made a lot of noise and the brand’s image is somewhat established. That makes my job a lot easier. And, yeah, this is exactly what I want to be doing right now. I’m crazy about coffee, but I really enjoy this unique view of the industry – from behind a desk, that is. I like to write and it turns out that there’s a lot to say about …
Craft coffee is slowly but surely creeping its way into mainstream culture. Whether it be Jerry Seinfield visiting Handsome Coffee, or Kuerig’s need to lampoon artisanal shops in a recent add, the public is starting to notice a growing demographic wants a higher quality cup. Not surprisingly, some of specialty coffee’s earliest adapters have been creative types, and musicians are no exception. In particular, these three bands love coffee more than the average musician.
An entire decade later, Arcade Fire’s debut release Funeral remains the album most likely to be playing in your local coffee shop. It’s only fitting, because the band members are avid coffee fanatics. The Montreal-based group is known …
It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic morning than sleeping in, meandering downstairs, and being handed a well crafted cappuccino. Throw in a beer and breakfast menu that would even make Anthony Bourdain swoon, and you have Gralehaus, the new cafe/bed & breakfast from Lori Beck and Tyler Trotter. Lori and Tyler are best known as the team behind the internationally-acclaimed beer bar The Holy Grale, situated in a repurposed Unitarian church conveniently located immediately behind the turn-of-the-century building which houses Gralehaus. The two restaurants share a German-style biergarten, so theoretically there’s …
Interview by Mikey Rinaldo
2014 has already turned out to be a very exciting year for Louisville’s coffee scene. Four Louisville baristas competed this past January at the Big Eastern Barista Competition (one of the regional competitions preceding the US Coffee Championships). Houston Miller and Jesse Myers from Quills Coffee and James Tooill from Argo Sons Coffee took part in the Brewers Cup portion while Michael Butterworth competed in the Barista Competition. Jesse, Houston, and James all placed in the top seven, and James’s third place finished earned him an invitation to nationals. Michael placed fifth and will move on to the US Barista Championship. James and Michael will be the first baristas from Kentucky to compete at nationals. As a Louisville resident and coffee enthusiast, I wanted to hear first hand about their experiences, so the the five of us sat down together to have this discussion….
Christmas is a time for giving, and unlike your family’s white elephant gift exchange, we’re giving away something you’ll actually want. We’ve assembled a gift basket featuring the finest craft coffee Louisville has to offer- specifically Argo Sons, Sunergos, and Quills Coffee– and we’re going to ship it to the doorstep of one lucky reader (sorry, USA and Canada residents only). All you have to do to enter is click on this link, and follow the instructions. We’ll announce a winner December 30.
Until then, Merry Christmas from the Coffee Compass!
Photo by Matthew Stevenson
Day 1: 10/6/ 2013
Editor’s note: Travels of a Barista Dirt Bag is an ongoing series of dispatches from barista/ guest blogger Zach Hester. The search for a delicious cup of coffee is taking Zach from his native Kentucky bluegrass, down the Mississippi Delta, across the Southwest to the shining Pacific Ocean. Tune in each day for a fresh update.
On The Road
We took off a day and several hours past what we had originally planned. By “we,” I mean myself and long time friend and vagabond, Ian Herrick, who has just made his way back stateside from a long stay over in Costa Rica as a hired hand on a sustainable farm. His latest addendum to his diverse CV: planting a banana orchard. It’s no wonder we’ve left Louisville with something to be desired in the department of punctuality, although I am mainly to blame for this. It’s October 6th and sometime around three in the afternoon. We’re driving south on 65 and still some miles north of Nashville. Tropical Storm Karen’s rains are very much present in the atmosphere. Everything has cooled over the last 24 hours and our field of view comes in and out with the rhythms of windshield wipers. We’re listening to the Beta Band, loudly. …
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 …
The Coffee Compass exists to help you navigate the world of craft coffee. It just so happens that we live in Louisville, the home of the Kentucky Derby. If you’re in town for the Run for the Roses this year, we have a trifecta of coffee shops for you to visit, all surprisingly close to Churchill Downs.
Sunergos Coffee Espresso Bar and Roastery – Woodlawn
We love Sunergos. The business made its debut back in 2004 with the opening of its Preston location near UofL and now in 2013 has three Louisville locations. Their location closest to Churchill Downs, Sunergos Woodlawn, is nestled just south of the Watterson Expressway on a small business strip between 3rd street and Southern parkway. The shop is the main roasting headquarters and showcases what Sunergos is all about:
Throughout the life of Sunergos we have enjoyed participating in a diverse community of people who regularly come together around coffee. Out of the fabric of this daily coffee community, people have emerged to join us in our work, enriching and being enriched through working together. The work of Sunergos continues to grow as each person engages their craft, from the roastery to the espresso bar. – www.sunergoscoffee.com
The shop has a paddle-group La Marzocco Linea espresso machine, two Kompaq K10 grinders boasting one blend and one single origin espresso, manual pour-overs (Chemex or V60), and has two rotating Sunergos coffees on their Fetco automated drip brewer. There is plenty of seating and depending on how far away you park for Derby events, might just be within walking distance!…
After we got the chance to experience what Dave Buehrer is doing in Houston, we were anxious to get down to the newest Greenway Coffee store front, Blacksmith. John Letoto, one of Louisville’s most seasoned coffee veterans and a personal friend to Michael and I, moved down to join the Blacksmith team Jan 16, 2013 – five days before the shop’s soft opening. While we were happy John moved onto Greener pastures (pun intended), we had to get a Q&A with the man that left such a powerful wake in his Louisville coffee path. With all the hype that Blacksmith has been getting, we also wanted to get the low-down on an amazing new shop from the unique perspective John provides. Without further ado:
You relocated 958 miles to work for Blacksmith. Why?
958 miles, eh? Hello, Google Mapper. Hard as it may be to believe, that’s only a quarter of the distance — give or take a large body of water and several States — I covered when I moved to Louisville back in 2003. I spent ten years and two days as a Kentuckiana resident, and, in retrospect, I think it’s pretty easy for me to see some of the bigger reasons for leaving. First, I wanted to really explore what I could do in the coffee community. I’m extremely grateful for the time I spent as a barista and roaster at Quills Coffee, and I’m proud of what we accomplished during my two years there, but in the end I felt an almost overwhelming itch to get out and explore the coffee world beyond the borders of the Midwest. Second, I wanted to …