A build-out so nice, they had to do it twice. We love getting seeing submissions from established brands that continue to grow, but this may just be the first time we’ve had a second build-out from the same company! That’s right, as a sequel to last year’s Baxter Avenue Build-Outs article, Quills Coffee is back for more. But this time they have gone even bigger, opening a new brand-new roastery inside a 100+ year-old firehouse, pole and all. So let’s check back in with Quills Coffee in Louisville, KY, shall we?
As told to Sprudge by Brian Beyke.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Quills is a small but growing group of passionate people devoted to sourcing, roasting, and serving amazing coffees through meaningful relationships. Meaningful relationships from farm to cafe or home kitchen. We strive to create experiences and spaces that encourage and inspire. We believe in quality for all and that coffee creates community.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
802 East Main St. was a firehouse built in 1893 that was originally a horse a buggy fire station. In the 70s (I’m guessing from the wood paneling) it was split up into rooms and labs and eventually was home to a company that worked to modify and improve battery powered motors. Even before we started ripping out the “vintage” wood paneling we knew we had a special space. Beautiful exposed brick walls, high ceiling, fire pole, and those gorgeous barn doors that the historical society wouldn’t let us change if we wanted to, but of course we didn’t. The space doesn’t end there. Around back or through the large glass garage door in the back of the cafe is a huge cobblestone patio that looks into our new roasting space.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Clean, even development throughout the entire coffee while highlighting any unique acidity and a strong focus on bringing out the sweetness created in the roasting process.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We’ve outfitted our espresso bar with a three-group La Marzocco Linea PB and Mahlkönig PEAK espresso grinders. Our brew bar is working with a FETCO batch brewer and most notably we’re introducing Kalita Waves to our customers as the only manual brew option. We’re also excited to be introducing a full-scale food kitchen/food program as well as a beer and natural wine program.
We’re poising ourselves for growth with this new roastery space in every possible way. So we’re making a move to a significantly larger space, more than doubling the square footage for our roastery, training lab, and storage area. Along with that, we have made some significant upgrades to our roastery production equipment. We spent over a year researching roasting styles and models before ultimately landing on a Giesen W30A 30kg roaster. We’re excited about not only tripling our current capacity (from a Diedrich IR-12), but also for the control we have with a Giesen over many more aspects of our roast profiles than we’ve had up to this point. We also found that, in trying coffees from many roasters, coffees done on open-flame drum roasters tended to have the full flavor and dynamic acidity that we most preferred.
Additionally, we have added a weigh-and-fill bagger and band sealer from Action Pac, which will help us to increase our packaging speed significantly as our volume grows. We’ve added a vacuum loader for the new roaster, along with a full-sized de-stoner so we can ensure all of our coffees are rock-free for our own and our customers’ grinders. We also decided to go with a full-blown afterburner to to lower emissions from our new roaster. Even though Louisville hasn’t yet moved to requiring it, we see the trend going that way, and we’re eager to move in and be good neighbors from the get-go by minimizing the smoke and chaff we’re throwing into the neighborhood.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Our cafe and patio area has been open for a little over a month now, slowly adding hours, kitchen days, and most recently moving over the roasting facility and production from our New Albany space to the roastery/lab area just on the other side of the rear patio. We are still putting things in their place in the lab area of the roastery facility (designated to be a SCA accredited training lab). We are really excited to have all things in their place by the time we host the U.S. CoffeeChamps Kentuckiana Preliminary event at the end of September.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Thank YOU! Come drink wine with us… perhaps for the Kentuckiana Preliminary?