Continuing the retelling of my American road trip through the medium of coffee shops, we started our second day in Nashville, Tennessee, where I sought out Sump Coffee. Our first stop, Niedlov’s Cafe & Bakery in Chattanooga, was a chance discovery, but Sump Coffee was a planned stop, one of several places that I wanted to visit along the way. The Nashville coffee shop is the second of two Sump Coffees, which started life in Saint Louis, where the original coffee shop/roastery is still going strong.
Part of the modern OneC1ty development, Sump Coffee was one of the first tenants when it opened in 2017. It occupies a spacious, high-ceilinged unit with lots of inside seating and plenty more outside. When it comes to coffee, which is all roasted on the 10 kg Diedrich roaster in the back of the Saint Louis store, you really are spoilt for choice, with three single-origins on espresso, six/seven more on pour-over and, if you’re there before 11 o’clock, you can have batch brew too. All the beans are for sale in retail bags, along with a selection of coffee-making equipment and merchandising. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a selection cakes and pastries.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
OneC1ty is west of downtown Nashville, just southeast of the I-440/I-40 interchange, so we didn’t have to contend with downtown traffic/parking. It’s just across the railroad tracks from Centennial Park and the Nashville Parthenon, where we spent a pleasant afternoon. However, while finding OneC1ty, with its two-hour free parking, was easy enough, finding Sump Coffee itself was another matter.
Tucked away down the side of the right-hand of the two large buildings on the south side of City Boulevard, Sump Coffee isn’t visible from the street. However, if you walk between the two buildings, past the water feature, then keep the right, you’ll reach Sump. On the ground floor of the modern glass and concrete building, Sump occupies a rectangular, glass-walled extension which pushes out a little way into the open expanse in front of it, making it hard to miss once you get there.
The door to Sump is ahead of you, towards the right of the short wall of the extension. There’s a single table to the left of the door and two high tables to the right, along with wall of Pastaria, an Italian restaurant, which is in the front part of the building. There are more tables here, but they belong to the restaurant. However, before you decide to take a seat anyway, pop around the corner of Sump, where you’ll find three four-person tables along the longer, left-hand wall, the last one in the welcome shade of a tree.
There’s more seating inside, where Sump occupies an interesting space. You’re greeted by a row of drawers, acting as a retail table, which blocks your progress. The seating is ahead of you, behind the drawers, with two rows of two-person tables (some of which are pushed together to form sets of four), complete with bright red chairs. One row is along the windows to your left, while the other runs up the middle of the space.
The counter is off to the right, an irregular, multi-part affair with a row of four tall stools at the front end, ideal for barista watching. A final seating area is behind you and to the right as you enter. It has two more of the high tables that we encountered outside, one four-person and one for two. Beyond this is another door which provides access from the interior of the building.
You order from the middle section of the counter, with the Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine to your left and the Poursteady automatic pour-over system (which I’d previously only seen before in Intelligentsia in Chicago) to the right. You’re really spoilt for choice at Sump, with an impressive selection of three single-origin choices on espresso and seven more on pour-over (although one of each was sold out when I visited). A new coffee is added every week or two, meaning that the whole menu rotates out every few months.
Amanda, Len and I all went for pour-overs, opting for the Guatemala El Nogal, Guatemala Canoguitas and Kenya Karindundu AB respectively. All the coffee was made on the Poursteady through the V60 and was brought out to us in carafes with cups on the side. Len enjoyed his first cup, but found that it developed considerable acidity as it cooled, not something he likes in his coffee. My Kenyan had some interesting tomato notes which developed as it cooled. In contrast to Len, I really loved my coffee when it was cold! Amanda was working, so I didn’t bug her for tasting notes. I did try her coffee though and thoroughly enjoyed it, probably more so than mine!
Before we departed, I offered the staff a choice of one of four bags of coffee. These were from New York (Joe Coffee), Brooklyn (Café Grumpy), Wayne (Cabana Coffee Company) and Atlanta (Bellwood Coffee). After considerable deliberation, the staff selected Joe Coffee’s Turihamwe, a washed coffee from Burundi, which they brewed up there and then. Since I hadn’t tried it before, they offered me a sample, the Turihamwe turning out to be a lovely coffee with plenty of body.
|8 CITY BOULEVARD • NASHVILLE • TN 37209 • USA|
|www.sumpcoffee.com||+1 615 678 1286|
|Monday||07:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Sump Coffee (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Counter; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 17:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 17:00||Payment||Cash + Cards|
|Saturday||07:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)/Free (outside)|
|Sunday||07:00 – 17:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Regional||Visits||4th October 2022|
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