Nashville’s Barista Parlor

It’s rare for me to be blown away by the aesthetics of a coffee shop. Most are more or less the same. The Coffee Parlor in Nashville, TN took these coffee shop tropes and turned them into something functional, beautiful, and visually appealing. And honestly, you wouldn’t know it by the outside; the Barista Parlor is a quintessential case of “don’t read a book by its cover.”


The Snapshot

Located in East Nashville on Gallatin, the outside of Barista Parlor is basically a three door garage. Inside, however, is a different story. The front of the coffee shop is a large island with two bars – one side seems reserved for espresso, the other for manual brew methods. Past the island, and on either side, are long wooden bars to sit at and enjoy your food and drink. Larger tables are in the back for bigger groups of friends. The sides are sprinkled with smaller round tables. The back-left wall displays coffee equipment and beans for purchase, the far wall contains a large pixelated image of a ship being tossed by a storm. Lights are suspended throughout the coffee shop – hanging from the high ceiling, but providing a warm yellow glow to the whole room.

IMG_2370When I arrived at the Parlor, the aesthetically-pleasing inside caught me off guard – it’s beautiful. The second thing I noticed was that there were a lot of people hanging out and sipping coffee. This is obviously a community favorite. The third thing I noticed was the most surprising – the Barista Parlor serves six coffees from six different roasters used for by-the-cup pour over methods and three coffees for espresso. This is more than any other coffee shop I’ve ever seen. Intelligentsia, Stumptown, Handsome, Sightglass, Four Barrel, and Madcap coffees are all available. This means tons of coordination on the part of the coffee shop, and it really impressed me.

The Coffee

I ordered a cup of the Kenyan Gotomboya from Four Barrel made in a v60, and a shot of Bandy espresso from Handsome. I was hungry as well, so I ordered the “Huntsman” – scrambled eggs with pepperjack, bacon, and cornbread.

My coffee was out in a flash, followed quickly by my plate of food. While the food wasn’t quite the portion I would have liked, it was incredibly delicious. I suppose after supping on large homemade southern breakfasts for the last several weeks it’s not quite fair of me for me to dock Barista Parlor points for this; truth be told, their breakfast was scrumptious.

The coffee was up to par with what I would expect from Handsome and Four Barrel. But a bad barista can make even the best beans taste off-kilter. Props to the baristas that work at the Parlor, they gave both my espresso and my pour-over the taste they deserve.

The espresso from Handsome had hints of chocolate, smooth carmel, and provided a lovely spike on the palette. I found myself nodding my head in approval and flicking my tongue to get the most taste out of each sip.

I wasn’t sure I liked the Four Barrel pour-over at first, possibly because of the slightly skunky smell. But as the cup went on I found it to be quite delicious. It had an even profile, not very acidic. I’m used to an acidic cup these days, I think. Still, it tended to have brief spikes of flavor. It was a nice cup to enjoy on a chill day like the one I was having, that’s for sure. By the end of the cup I nearly ordered another.

The Environment

IMG_2375The Coffee Parlor is filled with the chatter of meetings, the laughs of friends, and the sounds of coffee-creation. The music was playing lightly in thebackground – a playlist with some bands I have never heard as well as the Rolling Stones. Everything creates a vortex of background noise that is quiet enough to read a book in, but forgiving enough to allow for normal conversations.

Laptops and tablets littered the bar and tables everywhere, and ample outlets provided plenty of power. That said, a fairly large amount of people were reading paperbacks too. I like this conflux of mediums, and I like that the Barista Parlor is the type of place to let both thrive.

As a coffee geek, I felt right at home. Huge siphons, v60 drip stations, and coffee paraphernalia were out for the world to see at the brewing bar, and it was cool to be able to look over and see coffees being made with ease by the well-seasoned baristas.


Final Thoughts
The wall of products
The wall of products

The Barista Parlor is the type of place that’s good for just about everything. Meetings could be held in the back of the room, small gatherings of friends would be a perfect fit for the smaller tables, and sitting alone while reading a book works perfect at one of the bars. Laptops fit everywhere, and plenty of power means lots of time to get that project completed. It’s a versatile coffee shop space, and I would recommend it to just about anyone.

The wide range of coffees made by skilled baristas means a quality cup and a great experience. In short, I can’t recommend the Coffee Parlor highly enough. It is one of the best coffee shops I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing (and their food is great too!)

The Coffee Guy

Find the Barista Parlor online here:
Twitter: @BaristaParlor