36 Hours in Nashville

What to do with a single day in Nashville and about $11 left in your pocket? Spend the whole day at coffee shops. Take a look at a few of spots Joshua and I stopped by in an last-minute attempt at a pre-semester vacation.

 

DOSE

We walked into a crowded shop filled with tables covered in laptops, notebooks, and half-drunk cups of coffee. Less than a mile from Vanderbilt University, Dose Coffee seems like a college-student study spot, and I understand why. Big windows along one side of the shop let in plenty of natural light to remedy an afternoon of essay-writing, and with Counter Culture coffee behind the bar students can count on a quality cappuccino to get them through the semester. And any place with tee shirts that say "Uno. Dose. Tres." is okay in my book.


Revelator Coffee

On the recommendation of a bartender at Bar Luca (a place that makes you feel cool even if you've been sitting in a car for 10 hours) we stopped by Revelator Coffee, and, like the proud tourists we were, left with a bag of beans, a cup of coffee, and a Revelator brand Swell water bottle. Roasting out of Birmingham, Alabama Revelator is quickly making waves in Southern coffee culture. Fingers crossed it heads up here to New York because as much as I'd like to I can't be driving to Nashville every weekend for a new bag of their beans. I just can't.


STEADFAST COFFEE

Although we stopped by to pick up a bag of coffee beans, the freshness of the shop's design made it very tempting to spend our entire afternoon sitting in one of the open booths along the wall, sipping on a macchiato while taking Instagram pictures of everything. Located in Nashville's Germantown neighborhood, Steadfast Coffee boasts a spacious interior, with a large patio for afternoons when Blizzard Jonas isn't dropping a foot of snow on the city. After a chat with a knowledgable and friendly barista we decided on a bag of Peru, and brewed on a V60 back home in New York, the beans didn't disappoint.


barista parlor x germantown

The past two trips to Nashville we've stopped by Barista Parlor's East Nashville and Golden Sound locations. But after spending the past few months gawking at Instagram photos of their newest location in Germantown we finally had a chance to visit. The fresh space is filled with natural light and accented with shades of olive green and bold orange, a contrast to the clean lines and crisp white brick of the building itself. At this point in the afternoon we were about 4 cups of coffee in so I opted for the Irish Whisker, a delicious drink made with coffee, cream, orange zest, a Whiskey reduction, and magic. 

The Sawhorse Cafe

It’s no secret that the third wave coffee movement has made an impact on cafe culture in New York; with an abundance of coffee shops popping up around the city, New Yorkers seem to have their pick when it comes to carefully crafted cappuccinos.  But three hours away, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the craft coffee culture is quietly making waves of it’s own.

Owner and Head Roaster, Jesse Darrow with his son, Timbre.

The Sawhorse Cafe, owned by husband-and-wife team Jesse and Hannah Darrow, opened it's doors in April of 2015 and has since become a Williamsport favorite. The cafe serves farm-to-table eats, homemade pastries, and Buzzsaw Coffee, roasted in-house. My boyfriend Joshua (a former Williamsportian…Williamsporter?) and I stopped by for a bite to eat and a chat with his friend Jesse. 

When we met up with Jesse he was roasting coffee in the back office, holding his less-than-a-year-old son, Timbre, in his left arm while sorting through the freshly roasted beans, picking the burnt ones out of the batch, with his right (so let’s just put that whole “men can’t multitask” thing to bed right here). 

Growing up Jesse always loved food and farming - a passion that’s evident in his approach to the cafe’s ever-changing menu. They source their ingredients locally, allowing the menu to shift with the seasons and reflect the Central Pennsylvania region. Jesse’s approach to coffee is similar: find the best beans he can and don’t mess them up, roasting lightly to highlight the work that nature and the farmers have already done.

Buzzsaw Coffee, US Roaster Corp

In the coffee world there seems to be the perception that a roaster with success in a larger city has higher quality beans, but that’s not always the case. Roasting out of cities like Portland, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, heavy-hitters like Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Counter Culture, and Blue Bottle often get more attention in mainstream coffee conversations, but more and more often quality micro-roasters are popping up in places like Williamsport. In Pennsylvania alone Square One (Lancaster), Alabaster (Williamsport), and Passenger (Lancaster) have already gained traction; and in nearby Ithaca, NY Gimme! Coffee has established a presence in New York City, proving that these smaller roasters can hold their own.

Having worked as a sales rep for Gimme! Coffee and as the head roaster at Alabaster - where he took their beans far in the America's Best Espresso competition - Jesse understands this industry well. And through Sawhorse Cafe he hopes for Buzzsaw to continue to grow, and ultimately develop into it's own entity.

When it comes to the cafe itself, the space is bright, open, about three times the size of any shop in Manhattan, and very Instagrammable. Offering Kalita Wave pour-overs and espresso drinks on a shiny La Marzocco espresso machine (also Instagrammable), Jesse and the baristas take great care in using brew methods that compliment their coffee beans. 

If you're lucky enough to live nearby, stop in for a quality cup of coffee at a community-focused cafe. And for those of us in New York, the three hour drive is probably a faster commute than trying to maneuver the L train during rush hour. If we're being honest.

The Sawhorse Cafe: Website   Facebook   Instagram

Buzzsaw Coffee: Website