Blog Archives: Lily Carothers
You may have gotten used to seeing those cans of Phocus in our store, but did you know that Phocus got it start right here in Louisville? John Mittel was born and raised in Louisville and was on his way to getting a medical degree from the University of Louisville. He had been working jobs here and there for his mentor Tom O’Grady, when they became really close. One day Tom showed John an article that had just come out about a popular energy drink that was particularly high in sugar. The drink had done extremely well on the market despite its unsavory ingredient list. This really resonated with John since he had been trapped each semester in UofL’s library studying for exams. Day after day John would have to choose from a dismal selection and reluctantly push those vending machine buttons for a drink he knew could do better.
Fair trade is so important for farmers as well as buyers of coffee beans. It allows organizations like Maya Vinic to give hands on support and education to farmers. Maya Vinic has made it a top priority to work with farmers on a local level. They see the importance of incorporating local language and culture, as well as respecting the forms of self government that communities maintain. Maya Vinic is a Cooperative Union of 700 coffee farming families that grow and produce coffee beans from over 34 regions within the highland communities of Mexico.
If you have ever met Ashley Ray you know just how cute her pigtails are, how bright her smile can be, and the amazing energy she brings to HB-Shelbyville Road. Ashley manages the store and has created such a warm and welcoming environment for both the employees and customers. It was so much fun to sit down and talk about what makes her so great! When I first arrived at her home I was introduced to her adorable pup Mickey and her kind boyfriend, Mickey. She was quick to tell me that, yes the dog came before the boyfriend! Ashley and Mickey were kind enough to play me some of their beautiful songs, which served as a lovely start to a fun interview.
Where are you from?
I am from Louisville, but I have lived in Indiana for a pretty long time.
What is your favorite drink?
Black coffee, I really like the Peru Coyona
If you have ever been in a locally owned store in Louisville, you know just how enriching they can be for our community. They add color to our surroundings, and fuel a sense of uniqueness among our neighborhoods. It was amazing to learn about an organization that helps keep these businesses thriving. Though it is easy to see local stores all around us, you might not know that there is an organization that supports these businesses and helps educate the community on how important local businesses can be. The Louisville Independent Alliance has made this their mission, and I had the pleasure of sitting down with the Director, Jennifer Rubenstein, to learn more about their great work.
Today is extremely hot and humid, like many of us have experienced, the Kentucky sun beats down relentlessly. I find my way through Cherokee Park and get lost down the many side streets and alleys of the Highlands area. Though this area is quite familiar to me I am surprised to find myself on streets I had never been before. That’s the beauty of the Highlands, its labyrinth effects cease to disappoint. After a lap around the block and some blasting AC I find the house where Ben lives. I am not quite to the door when I here a beckoning meow. Ben let’s me in and I am immediately greeted and introduced to his sweet cat, Harper. Though Ben shows me around, Harper truly outshines him as the welcoming committee. We sit and begin talking about Ben’s time at Heine Brothers’.
It’s cloudy and gray on this Friday morning, but the students from Western High school are excited to be at Heine Brothers headquarters. They each doctor up their own cup of coffee; some take theirs black, while others add caramel and milk. After the students are settled in their seats, Alec Risch, the Head Roaster and Director of Coffee, starts talking about the coffee plant.
From the outside it is hard to tell just how ingenious and creative Monica Mahoney’s home is. When entering you can feel the warmth from a crackling fire while a small cat named “biggie” brushes against your legs. The floor plan is completely open and full of small details. I was surprised when Monica revealed to me that the home used to be a general store for the neighborhood. Pictures are hung in the hallway of the store and as you turn to see the space before you it is delightfully shocking. What used to be rows and rows of shelves and countertops, has now become a warm and inviting home, full of art, life, and spirit.
It’s 9am on a Friday when six Western High School students file into Heine Brothers’ Headquarters. The sky is cloudy and construction seems to patter on outside as the groggy students find their way to their seat. Toni McDowell, Store Operations Manager, starts the day by breaking down what exactly these next couple of weeks are going to entail.
Western is not your normal high school; the students participate in programs where they can learn different skills and trades. These students are part of the culinary program and have chosen Heine Brothers’ as their out of school experience . Over the next few weeks they will learn everything they need to know to run a coffee shop, from the sourcing of the beans to handing a customer their drink.