With all of our talk recently about “great coffee” and our endless pursuit of it, part of you may still be legitimately wondering, “But really - what makes this so different from what I can get in the store?” It’s a fair question, and one that we could spend many pages answering. And because coffee and the people who love it are incredibly complex, well...complex answers abound in coffee geekdom. But, we’ll try to give a pretty simple one here.
To understand why the type of speciality coffee you get at Quills (and many other great shops) is so good, take a little journey with us. We’re going to follow the coffee from the farm to your cup, and take a few little stops along the way.
First, there’s the farm. Coffee farms are, of course, abundant in the world, but the one where your beans came from is a little more rare and unique. Your coffee was grown at a higher altitude than much of the coffee you find in grocery stores or some shops, meaning the beans are a bit denser and naturally more complex in their characteristics. To top it off, the farmers have been working to build an exceptional farm, one in which the coffee is given the best conditions of soil and other environmental factors to thrive.
They have pursued ongoing developments in processing techniques as well so that when they pull the coffee cherries from the tree, the coffee is carefully processed (a combination of various techniques to remove the cherry and other outer layers to get a clean seed or “bean”) in ways that will allow its full, dynamic flavors to shine through in the cup. Otherwise, these could easily be masked by dirty, moldy, or other unpleasant characteristics. Check out our Koban Plantation coffee from Papua New Guinea which spends up to 10 days in processing!
Then, the importer. Great coffees don’t just magically show up in Louisville. Instead they have to be found, and a long-term, sustainable relationship has to be nurtured. This is where an importer comes in. We hope to be able to step into this role ourselves to some degree in the future, but we are also proud to have worked with our importer, Café Imports, ever since we started roasting our own beans. We love this partnership because this team of folks takes the time to find great farmers and co-ops and invest in developing new ones. See the links on our page for our current Colombia offering from the Los Naranjos Association, to catch a glimpse of how Café Imports is working with farms in creative ways to help them grow better and better coffee.
Once we have worked with Café Imports to narrow down and select the coffees we want to carry (a detailed, thorough process of roasting, tasting and comparing), they ship them to us and that's where we get to work our roasting magic.... which is what we'll be telling you about in Part II