Somewhere a college student, a musical duo, a winery tasting room manager, and two eccentric, extremely photogenic baristas share an atmosphere of ground espresso beans, vanilla extract, and just a hint of customary nostalgia. They sip their Americano, their mocha, their latte with skim milk, and for the non-coffee drinker, their Chai tea.
Their atmosphere is created by that of Nathan Quillo, avid hunter, self-appointed excellent cook, insatiable hipster, and perhaps most importantly, coffee shop owner.
These people can be found at Quills, Quillo’s coffee shop located in downtown New Albany on East Market Street. Hailing from the favor of his last name, Quillo made his vision of the industrial, international ingredient scope coffee shop into a reality inside four separate locations. From East Market Street to Baxter Avenue in the Highlands of Louisville to the University of Louisville campus ending all the way at West 9th Street in Indianapolis since 2007.
According to Quillo, the same atmosphere can be found in all four locations he owns. “That’s what I strive for – embracing the typical hipster, industrial renaissance, espresso-is-in-your-veins feeling. That’s what you can count on from me,” Quillo said, taking a sip of his Brazil Santa Ines, his personal favorite coffee his shop houses.
Inviting in a multitude of international coffees, Quills seeks to feature some of the most unique blends, specifically those from Colombia, including their first Geisha coffee from Los Arboles, Colombia.
Manifesting the slogan “We flew here to find great coffees for you”, the industrial shop gives home to Colombia Jambalo, originating from Jambalo, Cauca and tasting of red apple, key lime pie, and passion fruit; Papua New Guinea Kunjin, originating from Waghi Valley, Western Highlands and tasting of cane sugar, raisin, cola, and white grapes; Brazil Santa Ines, originating from Carmo de Minas, Minas Gerais and tasting of peanut butter, chocolate, fig, and raspberry; and various others.
“Most people that come in here are usually equipped to give a variation of their typical order. You know, drinks like Americanos or lattes or caramel mochas. It only really changes by degree of milk or size or espresso shot given whichever coffee shop they’re in like Starbucks, Coffee Crossing, and places like that. These are the customers that have been in here two, maybe three times,” said Cimara Dunn, the New Albany location Quills manager. “It’s our adamantly loyal customers that become bold enough over visits to order the Colombian coffees. So far, our fan favorite has become the Brazil Santa Ines.”
Another feature Quills prides itself on is what they call the roasting room. A room that’s aesthetic is newspaper, old, brown pottery coffee mugs, lit by ways of gas lantern, and beakers of various coffee concoctions.
The roasting room inhabits various equipment for the purpose of grounding espresso beans, roasting coffee, and combining ingredients together to create the bags of ground coffee for sale that line the shelves beside the cash register.
Quills has opened itself to be a value-centered practice that provides Wholesale to roast, for hospitality, or equipment maintenance.
“The whole point of this place is to provide an experience. With that experience comes industrial visuals, the specialty of international coffee and it’s rarity, and how we can not only provide that taste with feel inside these walls, but inside the walls of shops elsewhere,” Quillo said.
That he did.
With their coffee used in multiple places in the surrounding area, Quills has opened it’s doors up to allowing other restaurants and shops to adopt their unique taste. Corydon, Indiana’s Kent Java Bar is one of those places.
“They were one of the first,” Dunn said. “We keep growing in terms of other places incorporating our coffee into their menu. I think that’s the most exciting part of this entire dream Nathan (Quillo) had.”
Currently the New Albany Quills employs six people. Two of those employees are Bryan Dominik and Phillip Hernandez. These two baristas spend their time combining different flavors and coffees to blend the perfect mixture for their patrons.
“We are constantly learning from each other and I know a lot of what I do about coffee and what works together and what doesn’t because of my job here. I love it,” said Hernandez. “I’ve been here a little more than a year and it’s the best job I’ve ever had.”
Echoing his sentiment, Dominik scans the menu to see if a mixture already exists that he had in his mind for today’s creation. “The best part of my job is being a creator. I love coffee because of this place and I love the vibe I get when I’m here. In the two years I’ve worked here, I’ve only gotten better at what I do and have a clearer look on where I want to go from here, especially in this field. Coffee becomes a profession here.”
“You know, as cliché as it sounds, dreams really do come true. You’re standing in mine,” said Quillo, beaming at his own version of a palace.
Amidst the sounds of keyboard clicks, wisps of book pages turning, and clinks of China against wooden tables, an industrial, international, inspiring dream lives on. Where coffee becomes a profession and people of the same quill gather for the Colombian coffee mill.
Where you are either here or Quills seeks to meet you somewhere.