Sometimes I stare. It’s hard to believe someone so beautiful could have so much of my DNA, you know?
Nestled comfortably on 8th Avenue beside a tanning salon (the window says it’s a “skin studio,” which sounds kind of gross and awesome) is Eighth and Roast, the coffee company whose name I cannot write correctly on first attempt because “eighth” is a weird word that starts to lose all meaning once you stare at it too long.
The shop is airy and open and so cozy. I am squeezing in time for this coffee project before I head to work and it’s really a shame because all these spaces I’m visiting are so comfortable and inviting, and make me want to sit and sip while gazing out the window and leafing noncommittally through a newspaper. Alas, there aren’t enough hours in the day lately. I’ll work on that. (Note to self: No you won’t.)
I told the baristas I was interested in getting some hand-poured coffee since I’d never had hand-poured before. They told me they had four varieties available, and one of them said he’d been drinking the Cup of Excellence, which was a Brazilian roast. I said YES PLEASE possibly a little too quickly and he set about pouring me a cup. At Eighth and Roast, the baristas have to come out from behind the counter to do the hand pour, as it’s over at a station a few feet from the counter. I sat nearby to wait and tried not to stare at the young man making my coffee too creepily, even though I was curious about the process. I don’t know. I get weird around boys. And girls. And dogs. Is that sad?
Anyway, enjoy this surreptitiously taken photo of a young man making my pour-over Cup of Excellence.
The coffee was delicious. I didn’t put anything in it; just drank it up in all its bright black glory. I say bright because it had a really smooth and mildly fruity finish to it. My coffee vocabulary is a little lacking, I confess. I am not sure when I am tasting a bean’s quality or the effects of a particular roasting style or preparation style. This quest is making me want to get educated about coffee, the way I tried to learn about wine when I started drinking it. (That was back before I decided I was perfectly fine with wine in a box and I wasn’t going to worry too much about its legs or notes or finish because I am too broke to really care about those things in practice, even if the theory is kind of beautiful.)
Also, how classy is their logo? I felt a little like an urban sophisticate running around with that cup in my hands. Which is hard for me to do, really, because I am kind of this tidal wave of clumsy bumpkin most of the time.
Another great local roaster to add to the list. Can’t wait to pick up a bag next time I’m there.
1. I am forever losing the bread tie.
2. I leave the top loose on the jar of peanut butter.
3. I will eat all the damn peanut butter.
4. Putting laundry away is my least favorite thing to do ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, so it just piles up in the bedroom.
5. I snore.
6. I don’t cook.
7. I suck at buying groceries because I don’t cook and therefore don’t understand how food works.
8. I am no good for staying awake for movies that start playing after 10 p.m.
9. I am a packrat.
10. I will ask questions about that show you are watching, while you are watching, even though I have no real interest in it.
Wednesday night a group of us from work went to the first of two Nashville Nights events hosted by 12th and Broad, a newish group in town seeking to bring together local creative types for events and collaborations that celebrate Nashville.
The Nashville Nights event was a two-night celebration of food writing, held at Arnold’s (where I’ve still never been for lunch). We listened to some local writers read excerpts of top-notch food writing while sampling some of Vivek Surti‘s cuisine, which was a delicious mashup of Indian and Southern flavors. Some nice young man handed me a bourbon cocktail that was tasty, and there was a plate of salted ham and some tiny unleavened biscuits to snack on, and some sort of lemony chess pie got involved there at the end.
Our hosts prompted us during the dinner to think about what emotions and memories the flavors and dishes evoked, and to write that stuff down and share it. It got a little easier to write as the bourbon disappeared, but I still wasn’t up to sharing anything. I feel rusty as a writer, and way too self-conscious in general. (I thought that would go away in my 30s. What gives?!)
We were asked to write a six-word story about a memory of Brussels sprouts. Here’s mine:
Wouldn’t eat them. Got spanking. Barfed.
It occurred to me later that that’s actually not entirely true. My faulty bourbon-addled memory got the events out of order. What really happened is more like Choked them down. Barfed. Got spanking.
Speaking of bourbon, we were supposed to write a little about an experience with bourbon we’d had over the years. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that most of my experiences with bourbon ended in ways that I couldn’t write about in front of strangers and co-workers. Bourbon, in my life, has traditionally led to questionable decisions. Everything I write about bourbon turns into smut.
We were then asked to come up with a metaphor for the pie. It was a bright pie, with hints of ginger and lemon. I’m normally not all that into pie, but I decided it was a little lick of sunshine.
It was a fun few hours and got me out of my comfort zone in lots of different ways. Looking forward to the next event!
Nestled in the repurposed and kiiinda out-of-the-way Marathon Motor Works building is Garage Coffee Company. Their shop is tiny but warm, leathery and garage-y in the best, cleanest way possible (no grease!). I stopped in and asked for recommendations from the two baristas and felt awkward enough that I blurted out that I just wanted a black coffee before they had time to really come up with something good for me.
I sugared it up ever so slightly, got a blueberry muffin to go and took my cup into the hallway of the building, which has been converted into retail and office space with some large historical pictures and info placards on the walls explaining what the plant used to be about. Pretty interesting to just sort of wander around and look at stuff, even if it’s not heated out there in the hallways. It was fairly dead when I was there on a Tuesday afternoon and I would have liked to spend more time exploring the shops, but I had to get to work.
So, the Garage coffee. It’s a bold, dark roast, and it has bite. I thought it was pretty tasty and qualifies for the trucker coffee spectrum. I considered buying a bag of beans to take home, but figure I’ve got plenty of chances to do that, since I plan to go back and try the Slingshot, which everyone on Yelp recommends. And I try to do what strangers on the internet tell me when I can.
While milling around the Village, I did make time stop in to Bang Candy Company because my thighs said I had to. I bought a sackful of treats to take to my team at work and a salted caramel for myself. The chocolate-covered honeycomb toffee was a hit with everyone, but I was personally surprised by and impressed with the Fireball peppermint bark, which had FREAKING POP ROCKS in it. Have you had POP ROCKS lately? I have to put that in all-caps because it’s so delightful to my 32-year-old palate. Also, I got a bunch of the marshmallows, which is Bang’s specialty, but I am not a big marshmallow fan so I let my team take care of those. I heard good things, though! And I have decided I’m not above making some hot chocolate and sinking one of those behemoths into it to see what happens.
Equal parts acid bath and warm, honeysuckle-smelling hug. You never know what you might get and if you’re lucky or unlucky you might get a dose of both in the same breath.
It’s not for everyone, I know.
I do so value your opinions.
Nashville is lousy with coffee houses and roasters. I have done a truly shameful job of investigating any of them, as I tend to stick to my 7 a.m. Kroger swill at home and the occasional Dunkin’ drive-thru extra large hot with cream and sugar (which I consider a real treat). My routine is busted and sad, it’s true.
Nick gave us a bag of Velo-roasted beans from Chattanooga for Christmas. It had been so long since I’d ground my own beans at home that the coffee tasted incredible to my tired old tastebuds. I’d forgotten what good coffee tasted like and now I can’t get enough.
So I am on a mission: Try the brews from 12 Nashville coffee roasters. I don’t even know if there are that many local roasters. I just liked the sound of “12 Days of Coffee.” If I run out of roasters, I will just move on to local coffee houses I’ve not yet been to and try some of their specialty drinks.
I’m doing diligent (read: kiiiinda lazy) Google research but I want to hear from you seasoned locals, too. What needs to bubble up to the top of my list? Are there particular roasts at particular places I should not miss? I’m all ears. And tastebuds.
“Why don’t you gather some toys and come into the kitchen so we can have naked time while I cook your dinner?”