Joe Heron (Copper & Kings), Erika Chavez-Graziano (Cellar Door Chocolates), Mike Mays (Heine Bros. Coffee) and Sam Cruz (Against the Grain) are partnering up for Lou-a-Village. | Photo by Sara Havens

In Friday morning’s Closing Bell, we teased you with the notion that four Louisville businesses — Copper & Kings, Cellar Door Chocolates, Against the Grain and Heine Bros. Coffee — were teaming up to create an experimental collaboration they’re calling Lou-a-Village.

This afternoon, we stopped by Copper & Kings and witnessed proof of this “four-way” enterprise.

Joe Heron, co-founder of C&K, was leading a distillate and beer tasting with Erika Chavez-Graziano of Cellar Door, Sam Cruz and Amelia Pillow of AtG, and Mike Mays of Heine Bros. All four businesses will create unique products using the same ingredients — coffee, chocolate and orange.

Artwork by Robby Davis

The products will be released sporadically, beginning with a stout from AtG in the next few weeks, followed by a chocolate bar by Cellar Door, cold brew from Heine Bros., and eventually a whiskey from C&K — after three years of aging in a new charred-oak 25-gallon barrel custom-made by Kelvin Cooperage.

Chavez-Graziano says she will take her cocoa nibs and Heine Bros. Coffee and age them in a used C&K brandy barrel to create the Cellar Door bars. After she’s done with the barrel, it’ll go to Heine Bros., where they will pour in some cold brew to give it a little chocolate and brandy kick.

We sampled both the stout and the whiskey distillate, and both were shining examples of the beauty and originality that can come through collaboration and innovation.

Louisville artist Robby Davis was tapped to create the group’s logo and label designs, and he came up with playful artwork that represents all four businesses with a naughty nod to the four-way theme.

Heron and C&K master distiller Brandon O’Daniel are excited for what Lou-a-Village will create and hope to continue working with their new businesses partners and friends in the future.

It takes a village to create Lou-a-Village. | Photo by Sara Havens

We caught up with Heron after the event and asked him how the project originated. He said that while some might consider Louisville a small city, it has some very big ideas. Indeed, he added, it has depth and creativity to match anywhere on the planet.

“The idea was to harness the collective energy and imagination of some of the city’s finest artisans and showcase the great beer, brandy, chocolate and coffee that is produced in this city,” he explained.

“The collaboration is largely one of friends, who like each other, who admire each other and who represent Louisville with pride and enthusiasm. We called it Lou-a-Village because Louisville is a big village, and in life it takes a village.”

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."