Meet The Maker
It would be hard not to notice the sleek, bright orange and black Copper & Kings sign that rises above their distillery when you’re driving down Story Avenue. Located in the middle of Butchertown’s growing community of local and small businesses, Copper & Kings is often also at the center of promoting that community and organizing neighborhood events.
Copper & Kings is primarily known for their brandy and absinthe, but equally as delicious is their non-alcoholic Butchertown Soda. You can find the Louisville-made craft sodas in the cold case at any of our stores.
While Butchertown Sodas have recognizable flavors, they are preservative-free, and use organic cane sugar and other high-quality ingredients that make them less syrupy, and more natural tasting than the average soft drink.
Cat Braithwaite, a Designer and Social Media Manager at the distillery, says that the idea behind Butchertown Sodas is that the flavor is, “a little more adult – grown up. It has more of a culinary flavor experience to it.”
Because of their commitment to using natural flavors, they sometimes use unexpected ingredients to achieve the taste they want. One of the ingredients they use in the Cola Superior is – you guessed it – coffee.
When a new flavor is needed, the development usually starts with Joe Heron, the owner & founder of Copper & Kings.
“Joe usually picks out what flavors we want to start using, then our Louisville partner Flavorman creates 5-6 different recipes for us to try. Then we get to taste test! We’ll give feedback – it needs more cardamom, or it needs more sassafras – and Flavorman adjusts the recipe until it’s perfect,” Cat explains.
For the team at Copper & Kings, it’s important that the flavors are completely unique and can stand on their own, but also mix well with the flavor profiles of their American brandies.
“Joe & Leslie really try to foster a creative environment here. They’re open to new ideas, whether it be one of their ideas that we can take the reins of, or if we have an idea for something,” says Cat.
It’s one of her favorite things about working at the distillery. And with events like “You’re the Wurst” in October, or “Kentiki” (a Kentucky-themed luau surf party) this summer, it’s clear that creativity is embraced at Copper & Kings. Creativity, and also a strong sense of community.
Like Heine Brothers’, Copper & Kings focuses on partnerships with local organizations and businesses.
One of the first events Cat helped with, for instance, was a “Lock, Stock and Smoking Barrels” event for breweries they had collaborated with, “We partnered with 14 different breweries and we gave our brandy barrels for them to age their beer in for about 9-12 months. It gave the beer a really nice rounded, rich flavor. All were very unique and adventurous.”
More examples include their Cured & Crafted festival, which is a showcase for local food, drink and craft artisans. Even their seasonal pie shop venture, the Butchertown Pie Co., sells a signature flavor of ice cream from local maker Louisville Cream, as well as the local Spudz chips.
Along with their commitment to supporting the local and small business community, sustainability is important to Copper & King’s mission. (Insider tip: If you bike, you can also earn a 50% discount on a tour of the distillery when you ride over.)
“We re-purpose shipping containers and have solar panels on the roof that we use to supplement some of our energy. Out front, we planted a butterfly garden as a migratory way station for monarch butterflies. The garden also helps mitigate stormwater run-off, which can be detrimental to nearby creeks, streams or rivers,” says Cat. “We also have recycling bins in every room – so as soon as you’re done with your Butchertown soda you can, you know, make sure the bottle gets reused.”
At Copper & Kings, they believe that because Alcohol is agricultural, “we have a responsibility to focus on environmental awareness and sustainability.”
Which means, when you’re drinking a Copper & Kings product or attending one of their events, you’re also supporting their sustainable practices, as well as your Louisville neighbors.
And don’t worry – whether you’re drinking your Butchertown Soda on a Copper & Kings tour or in one of our stores, you’ll still have access to a recycling bin!
Wood & Twine: the name is deceptively straight forward for the intricate string art installations that best friends Jessica England and Melody Niemann create for their Louisville-based company. Right now, you can check out their largest piece – a six foot Kentucky outline – brightening the walls of our Northfield store.
At the root of Wood & Twine, though, is Melody and Jessica’s friendship. Long before their company was even an idea, some serendipitous class schedules and a shared love of crafting brought them together while attending the University of Louisville. With the same major (in marketing) and double minors, Jessica and Melody were seeing each other everywhere.
But it was finally a mandatory accounting class that solidified their partnership. “It was the most horrible class ever – we ended up just helping each other get through it, ” says Jessica.
“I always joke that it was a friendship formed of the mutual hatred – hatred of accounting,” adds Melody.
Exploring different types of crafts and art projects became a way for Jessica and Melody to hang out. They took watercolor classes, practiced calligraphy and even attempted an ill-fated mosaic project (“glass shards were everywhere”), before eventually pursuing string art.
Melody says, “I’ve always been prone to crafting. Doing local DIY projects wasn’t abnormal for me, coming from a crafting family.”
When they started creating string art, they found they liked working in the different medium – raw materials versus more traditional canvas and paint. Something about the hands-on process was appealing, and they were excited to come up with new designs to try.
“It’s not about the finished product, it’s about you in the moment creating something,” Jessica says.
Going into business with a best friend can be tricky, but Jessica and Melody are good at balancing each others’ work style while still being supportive.
“When we see the other one getting overwhelmed or starting to get burned out, the other one jumps right in and takes on more. We tend to stagger the work load, so when one of us is swamped at our other jobs, the other will take over, ” says Melody.
Jessica says, “It’s not something we really even have to vocalize.”
Both being from the Louisville area, they started their business with state outlines of Kentucky and the Louisville skyline (Fun side note: each still keeps one of the two original pieces they created in their homes as inspiration).
Since then, they’ve expanded to include other Louisville-themed designs, as well as designs inspired by nature, quotes, and symbols.
Their partnership works well because though their design ideas sometimes differ, they both respect the other’s design sense and collaborate to come up with a cohesive brand. They take inspiration from their individual interests, like succulents or coffee, and then divide the projects based on their personal aesthetic preference.
“Jessica takes on all the pink orders for me,” jokes Melody.
Even with their different style, it’s easy to see from Wood & Twine’s playful designs that they have a lot of fun working together.
One thing they both agree on? Heine Brothers’ visits! Jessica prefers our Caramella and Melody recommends the Bee Keeper.
Looking for your own piece from Wood & Twine? They take custom requests through their Etsy shop, or you can find some of their signature Louisville pieces in boutiques around the city.
Meet The Maker: Karen Weeks
If you’ve seen our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere, chances are the first thing you noticed before taking a sip was the beautifully designed bag. That’s thanks to local printer Karen Weeks, the maker behind our Explorer Series coffee bags.
Karen describes her design style as a balance, “between what I would call handmade, but also ‘Chosen’ – with an intentional feel.”
Karen achieves that style by first hand drawing the design, then tweaking details, planning size, and experimenting with colors in Photoshop. Afterwards her design gets transferred to a woodblock via a laser cutter, that will then leave an impression of the pattern on the paper. Each color of the pattern represents one time through the press. For the bag’s text, Karen typesets the individual letters(the movable metal type).
After mixing and preparing the colored inks, she applies it to the roller of Heidelberg Windmill letterpress. When the woodcut is aligned and the press is turned on, it will individually stamp the design on the paper of each bag sleeve.
You can see the impressive results of this process when you check out the recently released Sumatra Silk bag, the second of the small-lot Explorer Series coffees.
Like the first Explorer Series bag, Karen’s design for Sumatra Silk was heavily shaped by the origins of the coffee. Costume patterns from the Gayo region of Sumatra caught her eye when researching the Permata Gayo Cooperative, the group of farmers producing the beans for the Sumatra.
The patterns on the bag’s sleeves are modeled from the textures and forms of the regional dress, and the colors she chose are traditional to the area as well.
“I really like textiles. I’ve always been drawn to that – one of my other focuses in school was textiles, and then when I was living in Germany I was doing a lot of knitting and sewing.”
And that crafted influence in her work was especially appropriate for the Explorer Series project, because it’s “like all the hands that grew and worked on this coffee.”
Textiles weren’t the only influence on her style, though. Karen grew up in Louisville, but has lived all over, often in the pursuit of her art. From her first job as a professional printer in New York City, to a non-paying apprenticeship in small-town Alabama, to San Francisco, Detroit and even Germany, Karen’s clean but handmade style has developed through her exposure to the different artists she’s worked with or studied.
Even her current studio roommate, who she divides the printing space with, has shared tools and typographic knowledge that has helped her develop some of the techniques she’s used for the Explorer Series project.
“You can always learn from what’s around you. It’s about doing what’s natural in the environment you are currently in… Making [art] for other people, people you care about, is a great place to start. Making art they will love and then just keep doing it.”
If you loved her work on the last two Explorer Series bags as much as we have, be on the lookout for her designs on the next two coffees in the series.
Her personal favorite of Heine Brothers’ coffees? She’s sticking to the iced latte: “I love the Iced Latte, I’m just going to go ahead and say it. I don’t get it very often because it’s a treat, but the Iced Latte.”
Contact Karen Weeks at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or business interest!