Neighborhood Treasures: Quay Coffee
Quay is one of those places that has their pour-over pots lined up on the bar to set the scene, declaring this to be a serious coffee shop as soon as you step in the door. Like other serious coffee shops, it has 4.5 out of 5 stars in online reviews, and a menu that makes you squint a little and ask for a few definitions. A “Gibralter”, apparently, is two oz of espresso and two oz of cream in a rocks glass. A Gibralter is also, apparently, a very nice afternoon pick-me-up.
The afternoon I stopped into this River Market neighborhood favorite, the open layout felt almost as much like a co-working space as a café—and not in a bad way. With low-key background music, almost every patron was devotedly focused on a digital screen. (A few of us had two each.) Two gents in the back were sharing a jovial conversation, and a young couple occasionally looked up from their phones long enough to whisper to each other.
The visual tone was mellow, as well; black columns hold up a black ceiling with the classic exposed girders that gives a warehouse feel and urban charm to all these old, repurposed midtown buildings. The exposed brick, grey, and black are interrupted with antiqued furniture and a few different tones of hardwood. It’s all highlighted by the fancy brewing supplies in a dramatic side closet that was a vault in a former life.
As quiet as it was, the place was packed at almost every table, even at mid-afternoon. Then as the steady stream of visitors changed out, and more conversations began, the voices were still absorbed in the comfortable white noise of quietly-clinking rocks cups, espresso machines, and indie music you’ve never heard before. It does make sense that, in the densely populated and recently-revitalized RiverMarket, so many people would choose to be together while still appreciating the mental quiet.
From the grey walls and antiqued café furniture to the crew-cut baristas and mellow indie music, everything about the space was tidily unobtrusive. Quay is clearly a spot where the urban feel is engaging, but not rushing—a place where people go to face the digital demands of modern life from an appealing and calm environment.