The Best Coffee Shops in Nashville
Expertly brewed coffee is everywhere in Nashville.
Nashville is a late-night town, thanks to music shows that don’t get started until 10 pm and bars that stay open until… early. Good coffee is a necessity in Nashville, and the city’s many excellent coffee shops are ready for the bleary-eyed with whatever experience is needed at the moment. Whether you’re a total coffee nerd schooled in the vocabulary of extraction and roast levels, or whether you just need a cup of coffee strong enough to make the spoon stand up so you can get through the day, there is a home for you in Music City.
Living Waters embraces multiple types of brewing, offering both intriguing craft beers and expertly prepared coffee. Whether you opt for an intense espresso drink to showcase the complexity of globally-sourced coffee beans or the more comforting warm hug of a great cup of filtered coffee, Living Waters is thoughtful about the process of making coffee. Fans can even turn themselves over to the baristas for a signature coffee flavor exploration, an experience that is as delicious as it is educational.
While the pastries on the scratch kitchen side of the business may get more attention, the coffee service at Slow Hand is worth a visit on its own. The staff serves fancy espresso drinks without all the stuffy attitude that some self-serious baristas seem to enjoy. Step up, order a cup and a baked good, and get your day off to a great start.
Hidden away in the middle of the SoBro tourist zone, Café Intermezzo is a lovely respite from the din of pedal taverns and tractors hauling trailers of bachelorette parties around downtown. The European-inspired coffee house grabs visitors’ attention with a display of artistic pastries right inside the front door and continues to wow them at the table with French press service, cappuccinos, lattes, and coffee drinks spiked with international liqueurs.
True to its name, The Well was started as a community coffee house dedicated to increasing access to safe water by raising funds to build wells around the world. Since 2012, the company has expanded to multiple locations across Middle Tennessee, all of them dedicated to serving single-origin coffee beans that they roast in-house. This sort of fanatical dedication to quality and sustainability has earned legions of loyal fans that keep the registers ringing.
Locals joke (and gripe) about how long it can take to get a coffee at any of the several locations of this chainlet of upscale coffee houses, but the sometimes painstakingly long preparation times leave no doubt how seriously the baristas take their coffee craft. Barista Parlor’s commitment to using premium, ethically sourced roasts has definitely moved the local coffee scene forward, and its dedication to stunning decor featuring local designers and artists is also admirable.
This eclectic gathering place tucked into a cozy converted home near Nashville’s famous “Rock Block” on Elliston Place has become a popular spot for bohemians to write poetry in their journals, freelancers to get a little quiet work done, and friends who are just fans of good coffee to meet over an artful espresso drink. A favorite of night owls, Cafe Coco stays open until at least midnight every night and until 1 am on Thursday through Saturday nights.
It’s easy to miss this coffee chain’s flagship shop, perched among an industrial strip of buildings on the banks of the Cumberland River. Inside this low-slung spot, Crema has set the gold standard for Nashville coffee shops for over a decade. Senior staff members travel the world to discover the finest beans and vet the farmers who harvest them before roasting them in-house to a level that perfectly draws out the nuances and flavors of the coffee beans.
Rolling Mill Hill
This classy, all-day emporium of fun offers the amenities of a boutique hotel without all those pesky rooms above the lobby. The food menu changes throughout the day with breakfast bowls and chicken biscuits giving way to short rib mac ‘n’ cheese and burgers for lunch and dinner. Coffee provided by Crema is a part of both specialty espresso drinks and cocktails. Enjoy the morning meal, stick around to work through lunch, have an afternoon meeting followed by happy hour, and then bowl a few frames in the stylish vintage alley.
Already one of Nashville’s most beloved spots for coffee and conversation at its original 12 South location, Frothy Monkey has expanded its empire to multiple outposts ranging as far away as Chattanooga. The real game-changer, though, was when Frothy Monkey got its liquor license, allowing for several locations to serve a tight, well-picked list of wines at several in addition to a standard menu of specialty coffee drinks and delicious food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Nashvillians of a certain age remember when this Hillsboro Village stalwart was Jones Pet Shop; the canine theme lives on today. The original pet shop sign still hangs over the front door and cute dog photos let servers know to which table to deliver an order. With plenty of flexible seating options, Fido is a fantastic place to meet friends for breakfast any time of the day while enjoying one of its seasonal coffee drinks made using house-roasted beans.
Nashville has traditionally been a bit of a bagel desert through the decades, but the city has recently undergone a small renaissance when it comes to breakfast breads. No coffee shop has done more to up the bagel game than Ugly Mugs, whose simple open-faced schmears and delicious bagel sandwiches are ideal complements to straightforward espresso drinks.
Killebrew Coffee, from a New Orleans-based hospitality company, indeed brews a soul-satisfying cafe au lait that is worthy of the Crescent City herself. Open early every day of the week in the lobby of the Thompson Hotel, this is a convenient neighborhood stop for specialty coffee drinks, pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and sweet treats.
The food menu at both 8th & Roast’s main locations is pretty tight, with just a few selections of breakfast items plus sandwiches and wraps for lunch and a fantastic weekend brunch. You can pair any of those food items with a specialty coffee drink made from beans lovingly roasted in-house. Fortunately for travelers who don’t want their cup from a chain, 8th & Roast landed its newest location at the Nashville Airport.
When Bongo Java first opened on Belmont Boulevard almost three decades ago, local residents didn’t quite know what to make of it. Without a strong coffeehouse culture up to that point, customers were surprised to discover such fantastic coffee… in a house. Nashville’s tastes have matured over the years and plenty of other great spots have opened, but none offers better people-watching than the expansive front patio at Bongo where patrons can watch as hordes of Belmont students scurry by and neighbors play a life-or-death game of Frogger attempting to cross the busy boulevard.
While Sump Coffee isn’t the most appetizing name for a coffee shop, Sump’s selection of internationally-sourced coffees is virtually unmatched in town. If you’ve ever wondered what a $10 cup of coffee tastes like, give it a try and discover the intense fruity and floral characteristics that exotic beans can produce in the hands of a master barista.