Nashville’s Coffee Culture
There is a secret ritual shared by coffee lovers. A certain magic in the aroma of fresh roasted beans, an other-worldliness that takes you to remote hillsides in exotic locales, glimpses of mulatto-skinned native pickers adorned with brightly colored bandanas, brows glistening with beads of sweat under a tropical sun.
It’s not just the drinking of the coffee. It’s the experience. Dark beans heaped on a shovel scooped from the roaster, a tumble of gleaming moist aromatic kernels. The whir of the grinder, rich heady fragrance released. The throaty whoosh of the steamer, transforming milk into the perfect airiness of froth. A finishing flourish of latte art, signature of a good barista.
And then time to enjoy. A chat with friends in coffee shop intimacy, or a book and notepad as stimulating companions. The journey takes on a life of its own. Nashville is filled with an eclectic mix of unique coffee shops that draws writers, students, and those willing to slow the pace of life and savor the moments.
Hailed as Brentwood’s trendiest coffeebar, The Perch is a weekend destination for many. Arrive early for chef-made sweet and savory crepes, omelettes and Belgian waffles, sip on a rich espresso or signature Perch latte (names like Dolche de Leche or Almond Bark), or stay till 2:00pm when wine and champagne flow with the tapas. Husband and wife duo, John Kressaty and Heather Chandler, have taken their coffee house to the next level, combining creperie with wine and tapas bar.
Wired Coffee Company, open daily till midnight, is a rare find in Hendersonville. Cozy nooks, a small intimate library of 1000 books, hand painted tables and soft sofas. Locally roasted and organic, fair trade coffee is served rich and bold. In the evenings you may find patrons puffing on flavored hookahs, or musicians playing on the occasional Writer’s Night or Open Mike.
The Frothy Monkey spills from the restored old house in trendy, revitalized 12South Neighborhood on to the outdoor patios. Patrons line up in the neighborhood coffeehouse to order locally grown natural and organic food. It’s popular with families, or individuals sequestered in quiet corners with their laptops. Heather Southerland and Ryan Pruitt rebranded the coffee shop when they bought it last year. Community organic gardens tended outside, a modest Cheers atmosphere inside. An acoustic trio plays the first Tuesday of every month, and we discovered the perfectly poured espresso with perfectly steamed milk is made every day!
On a rainy Saturday afternoon, a stone’s throw from the Shelby Street Bridge, we found Crema, an unexpected treasure hidden in a nondescript building. Sacks of coffee beans stacked against rustic walls, a sprawl of rough hewn tables. A relaxed mix of locals and students writing or chatting. The talented barista, with a friendly welcome and no fuss, poured a shot of espresso and expertly added the rich foam topping. The crema! It was magnificent.
Five Points in historic East Nashville is a creative hub of coffee shops, art galleries, boutiques, trendy restaurants and local music venues. Every second Saturday of the month, about 16 stores in Five Points host a community party, serve wine and nibbles, and stay open till 9:00pm. As we leave you there to continue your own exploration, step inside the Art and Invention Gallery praised by both Travel & Leisure and Southern Living magazines. Meg and Bret MacFadyen brought their background in film and theater set design to add a creative vision to East End. A wondrous display of 70% local art and whimsical gifts has a special focus on inventiveness.
Who serves your favorite cup of coffee?