You’ve probably heard your favorite band being played in your local coffee shop, but you probably have never seen your favorite band there, unless your local coffee shop is Barista Parlor in Nashville, TN. But then again, Barista Parlor is far from your typical coffee shop.
Tucked away in a remodeled garage just off of Gallatin Ave, East Nashville’s main thoroughfare, Barista Parlor is marked by a giant horizontal anchor and a rather garish orange and blue exterior. The high-ceilinged interior has the aura of an abandoned WWII hanger, which may be influenced by BP’s penchant for 1940s and 50s music and vintage decor. Customers chat at hand-crafted tables that circle an island of high end coffee machinery. The far wall is filled with a contemporary art piece of a pixilated ship which only becomes visible when viewed through a smart phone or camera. Owner Andy Mumma’s meticulous attention to detail has even attracted the attention of the New York Times, whose article talked more about the furniture than the coffee.
If there’s one word to describe Barista Parlor’s approach to specialty coffee it’s maximalist. Make no mistake, the 2nd wave initiated customer may be confused by the lack of frills: no soy milk, no skim milk, no blenders, and only a sparse selection of syrups, all made in-house. But while Barista Parlor may be unapologetic purists when it comes to their craft, they have an overwhelming number of coffee choices.
With coffee offerings from Coava, Counter Culture, Intelligentsia, Madcap, Sightglass, and Stumptown, BP is torturous for the indecisive coffee aficionado. In keeping with BP’s “more is more” approach to coffee, filter coffees can be enjoyed on V60, Woodneck ‘Nel’ Brewers, and Siphon. When Darren visited this past weekend, two new hario halogen beam heaters had been installed in preparation to be added to the menu. Three gorgeous Yama cold brew drippers are at work during the warmer months and a 3 group head Slayer serves up 3 different espresso options- 1 blend and 2 single origins. In other words, it’s really easy to over-caffeinate at Barista Parlor.
Slain by the Coffee Experience
I started things off with a shot of Coava’s Kilenso, Sidama. It’s a natural process that wasn’t roasted for espresso, but brewed on the Slayer it was all berries and dark chocolate. In a cappuccino it was blueberries and cream. I also had a shot of Sightglass’s signature Owl’s Howl espresso blend. I visited Sightglass’s roastery back in March, and Barista Parlor is slaying (an affectionate verb used casually by the baristas for pulling shots on a Slayer) Owl’s Howl just as well. Lee Sill, a barista at the parlor explained that the shop went with the Mazzer Major flat burr grinders in favor over the conical Mazzer Robur E’s seen in most shops because they simply had better results with the flat burrs.
Next I moved on to filter with a pour over of the Santa Sofia, El Salvador, also roasted by Coava. It was a very sweet, delicate coffee and immensely drinkable. Andy surprised us with samples of a Stumptown microlot and 2 iced pour overs, but unfortunately I forgot to write down the names. None of them failed to impress. I did find BP’s brew method for the V60 to have a really light mouthfeel, and my palate was struggling to pick up the more subtle characteristics.
For lovers of artisan chocolate BP carries chocolate from legendary Brooklyn-based chocolatier Mast Brothers and Nashville’s own Olive and Sinclair. As shown by the hefty price tag, these rich chocolates are for slow savoring- not a quick sugar fix. In case you’re looking for a helping of soul food- this is the South after all- every Friday BP offers a chicken and waffles brunch.
*post made beautiful by photography from Brian Moats Photography © 2012