The Inkwell Has Counterbalance

A man holding a cup of coffee
A man holding a cup of coffee
Oualelaye Ouedraogo at The Inkwell Bakery & Cafe in Bloomington.

man at a college-town bakery wasn’t what Oualelaye Ouedraogo had in mind when he dreamed of moving to the United States. The native of Burkina Faso in West Africa planned to go to the University of Florida to get a graduate degree in accounting. When he arrived two months early to visit New York, he fell in love with its vibrant mix of cultures, and he stayed. Figuring there was no better way to learn about American customs than through its restaurants, he took a series of back-of-the-house jobs, including stints at York Coffee, Brooklyn’s Choice Market, and Devoción Coffee Shop, where he found his passion for brewing beans and dreamed of one day opening his own third-wave coffee shop in Harlem.

But after he met his soon-to-be wife, Rene Lloyd, who was looking for graduate programs in environmental affairs, his plans changed. Their move to Bloomington in 2017 was a culture shock, but Ouedraogo loved being close to lakes and Brown County. He found a home, and a new soccer field, among the international students at Indiana University. He also connected with baker Tracy Gates, creator of UGo Bars and co-owner of The Inkwell Bakery & Cafe, where “Wally,” as the staff affectionately call him, helped build the coffee program and open a second location this fall. While he loves Gates’s pastries, particularly her Nutella-filled Pop-Tart, nothing gives Ouedraogo more joy than brewing a straightforward cup of pour-over coffee while chatting with customers. “Pouring water directly over coffee is how people made coffee in the beginning,” he says. “It produces a clean-extracted, bright cup of coffee with less oil.”

Check out Ouedraogo’s recipe for the perfect cup of pour-over.


Arepas, dark chocolate, beer, seafood platter, hot sauce, pour-over coffee
(1) Azucar Morena. “The Garage food hall is a great stop when I’m in Indy. I like the arepas at this Venezuelan food stall.” (2) Dark chocolate. “The real stuff that I was exposed to in Africa.” (3) Local IPAs. “Bloomington Brewing Company’s Rooftop IPA and Upland Brewing Company’s Dragonfly.” (4) Hot sauce. “Especially habanero.” (5) New Orleans. “I can really relate to the food culture.” (6) Pour-over coffee.