Following a brief visit with my parents over July 4, Naomi and I loaded our bevy of drama queens and our infant son into the minivan and began our trip to Southaven, MS, a city on the outskirts of Memphis, TN, but on the Mississippi side of the state line. I had promised my wife that we would go see her sister this summer, and during a slow period at work, lunged at the chance to get away. From my parents’ place in Virginia to Southaven was over 12 hours of driving, so I decided to stop partway and get a motel room.
We drove to Asheville, NC, where I stopped and visited my good friend Jared Rutledge at his coffee shop, Waking Life Espresso. This is one of my favorite shops that I’ve visited in the past. It’s a house that’s been repurposed as a coffee shop on the west side of Asheville, an area undergoing some encouraging regrowth. Jared is a genuine “coffee freak”, so we had a great time chatting. My favorite drink there currently is his “Quetzalcoatl’s Tears”, a spicy Mayan-inspired mocha that can be drunk hot or cold. Jared sources and mixes his own ingredients and this drink is insanely good! Also, if you stop by there, be sure to try the Shakti Chocolate bars. Handmade chocolate bars. Awesome.
My reason for stopping in Asheville was that it was “convenient for lunchtime.” (Read, ‘Daddy wants to stop and see one of his coffee friends.’) Anyway, Jared suggested we try Pizzeria Ritrovo, a brick-oven restaurant just a stone’s throw down the street from his shop. Genuine Neopolitan pizza, but Jared recommended the porchetta sandwich, especially. So…we compromised. We got pizza AND the porchetta. WIN!
After we finished our lunch, we hit the road again, headed for Nashville, TN. I had decided Nashville was a good stopping point. (Read: ‘Daddy has some more coffee friends that he wants to visit.’) So we finally got there around 8 or 9 that night, travel-weary and ready to sleep. The next morning, we began the second leg of our journey: the Nashville coffee crawl. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to visit all the shops on my list, so I sorted through them and planned a route out of the city towards Memphis. The shops that made the cut were: CREMA, Fido, Bongo Java at Belmont, and dose.[coffee & tea].
At CREMA, Naomi ordered a cappuccino, and the girls got vanilla steamers (which totally made their day). I ordered a V60 of Brown Coffee’s El Sal. Finca Santa Barbara, and grabbed a bag of beans. The shop was fairly busy, so I didn’t get to chat much with the staff, but I enjoyed looking around. I was especially taken with the doorknobs or drawer pulls that appeared in various places; a neat design idea. Also cool was the repurposing of old doors for the front of the coffee bar. The coffee was first-rate. Definitely worth visiting, if you’re in the area. Please enjoy the following pics:
Our next stop was Fido for brunch. My buddies Logan Potts and Rob Tuttle had informed me that breakfast at Fido was great. They were right. And so was the Bongo Java espresso shot I had. No idea what they were pulling, but I enjoyed it.
Next stop was Bongo Java on Belmont, oldest coffee shop in Nashville. Also a house that had be reworked to be a cafe, Bongo Java had a sizeable group sitting outside on the porch. My buddy Jackson O’Brien had comped me a drink by previous arrangement. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was, but I DO remember that it was well-made and delicious. I did grab a bag of beans from Bolivia, and said empty bag will someday be made into one of those wallets I saw on Twitter a while back. No pictures of the shop, though. Sorry!
Next, and last stop on this coffee crawl was Dose. I’d heard about this place, read about it online, and was looking forward to seeing what they were about. I didn’t know anyone there, but I introduce myself to the barista behind the counter. His name was Keith Steunebrink, and turned out, he was one of the co-owners. We chatted about coffee, and discussed the new Apollo 5.0 that they were planning on bringing in soon. Their shop was full. All the seats were taken. I decided that, since we were about to swing onto the interstate for Memphis, I would get an iced coffee to go. Keith brewed George Howell’s La Minita, and it was fantastic!