When Java Brewing Company grew a bit – shall we say – stale in 2009, owner Chuck Schnatter teamed up with Toni and Chris Lavenson to aggressively transform the retail coffee shops into a bold brand. The refreshing and spunky VINT was born.
Stemming from the word “vintage,” Chris Lavenson explained, “All of the new core products of VINT – coffee, tea, wine and ale – have a harvest cycle, a vintage.” With their recent successful merge with Heine Brothers Coffee, there’s little that VINT doesn’t have a hand in.
It’s probably best recognized as one of few coffee shops that also serve up wine and beer. However, the mission of “offer(ing) premium beverages and food with efficiency and grace” points ultimately to the obvious core of VINT: the coffee.
Determined to craft the highest quality coffee possible within a chain milieu, VINT settled on serving “premium” coffee – a step above nationally-ranked coffee chains and franchises. Out of this decision came a superior daily roast as well as intricate detailing in the lattes. Latte art is a trend you will find at fine coffee shops like VINT, a tangible sign of pride in the product with a side of whimsy.
The hiring process to become a barista is selective and the training is grueling. “But when we put them behind the counter, they’re going to know the products very well,” Lavenson said. “That’s our goal.”
On the day of my visit, the barista was quick to describe the featured coffee – Kenya – and point out some of the recent promotions. Currently, VINT is selling their original signature drink, the “Vint Julep,” fittingly titled for upcoming Derby festivities. Described as a Bourbon Barrel mint julep with bourbon smoked sugars with espresso, it’s a yummy way to get anyone excited for the first weekend in May.
VINT has masterfully mixed the comforts of a quiet coffee shop with the liveliness of a corner bar. In addition to the fairly impressive beer list, the business has partnered with Vanguard Wines, who aids them in choosing from dozens of boutique, estate-grown vineyards from all over the world.
As if the eclectic array of beverages weren’t enough, VINT also has teamed up with local language center Los Monitos to host occasional language classes and incorporate drinks from the region as well as food to complement said wines. To date, wines and beer from France, Spain and Germany have been showcased, and Argentina’s robust Malbec wines were the most recent highlight. (Check in with Los Monitos for upcoming get-togethers).
“Louisville is blossoming,” Lavenson declares. “People are supporting local. We’ve walked into an educated customer base.”
VINT has locations at 2309 Frankfort Ave., 462 S. 4th St., 516 W. Main St., and 4901 Brownsboro Road. For hours and information, visit www.vintcoffee.com.