Unveiling Baxter Avenue's Brand New Brew Bar

It's hard to believe that it's already been six years since Quills on Baxter Ave. opened its doors. Since then we've learned a lot about designing cafés and we have been scheming how we can improve the bar flow and customer service at our flagship location for some time now. 

At Quills we're proponents of both automated and manual brewing for filter coffee. Our Fetco autodrippers deliver a consistent, delicious product that serves the large majority of our customers quickly and efficiently. But our finest coffees we normally reserve for manual brew methods. With manual brew methods the coffee is brewed to order in small batches. It also allows the barista to have complete control over each of the variables that affect extraction. We love how manual brew methods allow our customers to watch and participate in the ritual of coffee brewing. 

While our New Albany and U of L locations have designated brew bars, Baxter Ave. has never had a proper place for pour overs. We're sure plenty of people have thought, "What exactly is that barista doing over there and why are they taking so long?" What we needed was a well designed space that allows our baristas to brew coffee efficiently while being able to interact with our customers. Enter Quills Baxter's new brew bar. 

The clunky glass pastry case has been replaced by a wood and steel counter. We still have the same selection of locally made baked goods, but those have been moved to the top of the counter by the register. A built-in drain and pre-weighed doses allow the barista to shave several steps off the entire process. As always, all of the ingredients are weighed to ensure accuracy and quality. 

Part of the redesign includes the launching of a new iPad based POS system. Without a clunky pastry case or cash register separating our customers from our baristas we hope to offer better hospitality and more exciting coffee experiences. 

As a company we've never been more excited about our coffee offerings, and we're excited that our coffees are now taking center stage at our flagship store. More importantly, we think the store environment has never been more conducive to excellent hospitality. 

We also have these new shelves, which highlight some of our favorite brewing devices. They're also just really cool. But don't take our word for it, come by Baxter Ave. and see it for yourself. 

The Return of El Eden

 

El Eden is back! And its momentous reentry has rivaled in celebration that of the Jedi, Batman and the Living Dead.

I mean -it's obvious you guys are crazy excited

You even set up beautiful scenes to display this cherished roast.

For those of you that weren't around for our discovery of this amazing coffee last year - or need a refresher - please take a look at the post we wrote then

In Summary - we spoke of meeting Robert Delgado and learning of his small start-up Tiger Orchid Coffee with its dedication to under-resourced farmers in Mexico - shortening the links in the typical distribution chain between a coffee roaster and the farms who produce it. Delgado discovered the El Eden Co-op in the Guerrero State of Mexico, sharing his passion for strong relationships and a committed investment in top-notch coffee quality. 

El Eden is a dry processed coffee which means that the seed dries in the cherry rather than being immediately removed and washed. The results are amazing which was further proven when it was selected to be a part of Craft Coffee's subscription box last September (which was a pretty big deal. Make sure to read that post to find out more)

Fast forward to this year...We knew we had to have it in our line-up again. Tiger Orchid has been working hard to continue improving all of their processes so that they can make the coffee even more consistent and stellar. Quills has a lot more specific farmer traceability this year which allows us to really give more directed feedback to Roberto to bolster what's working and correct what's not. They also are experimenting with raised bed drying (as opposed to patio) which enables us to give some feedback on those particular bags. 

In the broader view: El Eden is really the first coffee that Quills is striving to feature year after year, extending our involvement in what happens in production more than we ever have before. We are so excited to see this relationship continue.

AND... in the spirit of celebrating our second year selling this fantastic coffee we're giving away a bag of El Eden! All you have to do to enter is go to our Facebook page and "like" and "share" the photo you'll see displayed on our wall (it looks like the one below). We'll announce a winner Wednesday, 6PM EST. Sorry, but US only.

 

Quills Hosts Famed Guest Barista Cabell Tice

The following post was written by Michael Butterworth (Thanks to Joanna Miller for photos.)

One of the best parts about going to coffee competitions across the country is meeting the other baristas. When I first met Cabell Tice, he was a fellow first time competitor at CoffeeFest NYC. The unknown barista competing out of Boston shocked a lot of people when he took home first place- a feat he's since repeated twice. But Cabell is not just good at drawing pictures with milk. Cabell is a gifted photographer and has managed an extremely high-volume cafe called The Thinking Cup. 

Cabell has now packed up and taken his talents from Boston to the Pacific Northwest and we were lucky enough that he took a several hundred mile detour to work a guest shift at Quills Cardinal Towne. When I say that Cabell is an ace barista, I don't just mean the symmetry and contrast of his latte art.  His attention to detail, efficient work flow, and ability to connect personally with customers are the true marks of a skilled barista. Many people who came in during his shift had no idea that Cabell was a guest barista because he seamlessly adapted to our context and service style. Hopefully it's not the last time we see Cabell behind the bar in Derby City. 

Best of luck in Oregon Cabell! 


Sopacdi, Congo: Quality Coffee for Quality of Life

The Sopacdi cooperative is one of the most forward-thinking groups with which our importer has worked. This group of 5600 farmers found specialty coffee to be a way forward out of conflict and civil war. Through the production of some of the highest quality coffee in their region, the group has been able to fund numerous projects for their community- from land renovation to women’s programs- and see the overall well being of their community rise. The quality of their coffee is the primary reason for their success, as the first since 1967 to achieve the top national grade. This particular lot is no exception, and represents one of the most exciting African coffees we have seen since we began roasting 3 years ago.


 

This is Bill

  This is Bill. Bill rides his bike from downtown Louisville to our New Albany store for a cup of coffee or a coke weekly. He is a cycling crusader and won't rest until we are all on board to ride with him. Last Friday, Bill took off with a friend to take a tour out west- on their bikes alone, bare necessities. He'll be gone for a couple of months and we want the details of the stars, the winds, the rains, the trials and joys... Bill didn't pack a journal and so we bought him one of our Quills Field Note packs-small enough to easily carry along- so he can record. Can't wait to read the stories!! Wonder where Bill and his friend are right now......

 

This is Bill. Bill rides his bike from downtown Louisville to our New Albany store for a cup of coffee or a coke weekly. He is a cycling crusader and won't rest until we are all on board to ride with him. Last Friday, Bill took off with a friend to take a tour out west- on their bikes alone, bare necessities. He'll be gone for a couple of months and we want the details of the stars, the winds, the rains, the trials and joys... Bill didn't pack a journal and so we bought him one of our Quills Field Note packs-small enough to easily carry along- so he can record. Can't wait to read the stories!! Wonder where Bill and his friend are right now......

Quills Coffee Sodas: Letting our Inner Kid Loose

As Quills takes very seriously their mission to create and share experiences with this community we love, we've been pretty darn hyped as we've worked to invent some exclusive mixed beverages -always including our carefully crafted coffees. We get an extra buzz when these experiences are tied to something classic or nostalgic. So naturally we allowed that inclination to influence the creation of our three Quills Coffee Sodas. Our aim has been to devise a new and unique way to experience coffee by pulling from widely familiar old-time beverages. In this post we will walk you through each of the three Quills Coffee Sodas: the inspiration behind each recipe and what to expect when you take your first sips… or gulps.   

The Original 

The Original finds its inspiration in what is perhaps the quintessential soda: an old-fashioned cola. We're not talking about the commercial cola that you'll find bottled on your grocery store shelves. We're talking about the kind of head-to-toe-tingling intoxicant kids saved their hard-earned pennies for weeks for - served by the soda jerk on a hot day in the1940s. Please understand we're not attempting to recreate cola, rather re-imagine it. Coffee Cola. We looked to cola as inspiration from which we pulled flavors like sorghum, molasses and vanilla. Then we combined it with coffee and added a touch of lemon to brighten up the aroma and give it a little zing. This drink is a great place to start if you're curious about what all this Coffee Soda stuff is about. 

The Shrub

If you're feeling a little adventurous check out The Shrub. This one finds its roots fittingly in shrub soda. Shrub sodas were very popular in colonial America and in their simplest forms are vinegars infused with fruits or herbs. This creates a sweet-n-sour syrup that is then used to flavor soda water resulting in a drink that is both bright and refreshing. In sipping on The Shrub you will find a sweetness like molasses, a complex spicy clove finish, a brightness toeing the line with sour, and a beautiful orange aroma & relish. The Shrub is very bright and effervescent.

Derby Cream Soda

If The Shrub is at one end of the palate's spectrum, the Derby Cream Soda is on the clear opposite. While the former is sharp and bubbly, the Derby Cream Soda is deep and rich. We like to describe it as rich and creamy like a root beer float with indulgent flavors inspired by Derby Pie. Who can say no to that?

Michael Butterworth - Why La Palma?

As many of you are aware, we are sending our Michael Butterworth back into the trenches. After placing fifth in the Southeast region of the Barista Competition, Michael qualified for the U.S. National Coffee Championship in Seattle April 24 - 27. Michael has chosen to compete with the Colombian La Palma and below he tells us exactly why...

Quills is committed to roasting only the highest quality coffees at all times. But sometimes we come across a coffee that’s so remarkably delicious, even we’re surprised. La Palma from Tolima, Colombia is one of those coffees.

La Palma comes to us from producer Leonor Gonzales through Cafe Import’s Aces Program. The coffees in this program scored an impossibly high 90+ points on cupping table, which means professional quality graders were especially impressed with this coffee’s flavor, body, and sweetness. The farmers in this program are rewarded with higher premiums for their produce- on average more than double the rate Fair Trade and other organizations pay.

At only 5 hectares, La Palma is tiny. By comparison, Brazil’s famed coffee farm Daterra is 3,200 hectares. But at 5,500 feet above sea level, La Palma has the perfect environmental conditions for growing exceptional coffee. Coffees from Tolima are known for their vibrant acidity and La Palma is no exception. Sweet flavors of tangerine and plum gave way to tangy rhubarb. My favorite part of this coffee, however, is the mouthfeel. Brewed with a V60 or pulled as an espresso, this coffee has a velvety tactile session that makes for some very pleasant sipping. A cane syrup sweetness lingers on the palate and leaves this barista wanting another sip.

Next week I’m excited and honored to use La Palma to represent Quills at the United States Barista Championship in Seattle. It’s a nerve-wracking endeavor to compete against 35 of the best baristas in the nation, but I’m positive that La Palma is on par with any other coffee that will be served. Now it’s just up to me as a barista to serve it in a manner that pays proper homage to Leonor Gonzales, Cafe Imports, my coworkers at Quills, and the city of Louisville!


Colombian Triple Crown

They say that the best things come in small packages. And we say what could be better than multiple small packages grouped together into one big awesome package?!!

In this land where coffee flows like wild horses (sound familiar)? It's flowing proudly now as we gear up for the Kentucky Derby - the first and the favorite of the annual Triple Crown of horse racing.

In celebration we are now offering our own grand Triple Crown. And ours consists of some of the finest tasting coffees the world has to offer - roasted with the utmost care, attention, love and goodwill by yours truly.

The Colombian Triple Crown
La Palma   Pradera   Nariño

Each bag will contain 4 oz. of each roast - packaged together - all three for $21

La Palma

We've been raving about this one for the short time we've had it - specifically that it's a part of Cafe Import's Aces Program which rewards farmers for extra exceptional coffees. This one scored super high on the cupping table (more on that very soon when Michael Butterworth tells us why it's the coffee he'll be competing with in the US Barista Competition in Seattle). It's thick and juicy with plum, tangerine and strawberry rhubarb. We've served up a lot of it lately through the V60 and Chemex - with ecstatic reviews. 

La Pradera

This coffee is one of the 20 finalists from a regional competition in Huila -which you can read about HERE  It's a full-bodied coffee that exemplifies a mellow, luxurious Colombian profile. Soft and creamy with white grape, chocolate and caramel. 

And our newest addition...

Excelso Nariño

This coffee comes to us from an exciting new program for our importer called “Regional Selects”. Highlighting four distinct growing regions- or departments- within Colombia, this program blends coffees from each area to showcase the unique flavor profiles inherent to each.

More from our importer, Cafe Imports, on this program: “We think that the terroir…sun, weather and placement on the planet contribute largely to the flavor of these coffees when picked ripe and handled properly. These coffees are selected by cup and then blended together like a Rhone wine or a local honey that comes (from) many fields in a four mile radius.”

This regional select -from the Nariño department- shows its regional characteristics well. Nariño generally tends to produce coffees that are floral and perfumed, with bright and intense citric acidity. This coffee in particular is tangy, bright and juicy with a velvety body and chocolate-orange overtones. It’s been a dynamic contributor to our Inkwell house blend for a few months now, and we’re excited to bring it to the forefront as a single origin offering in conjunction with the other stellar Colombian coffees in our lineup right now.