Barista Parlor, fueling creativity through coffee in Nashville, Tennessee. Join Managing Director Christopher Ayers on a journey as they pursue new heights.
Ray: I’m Ray.
Kandace: I’m Kandace.
Ray: Welcome to Unpacking Coffee. This week.
Kandace: Barista Parlor.
Kandace: Nashville, Tennessee. Do you remember when we met Barista Parlor, Ray?
Ray: I believe it was at SCA a few years ago.
Kandace: That’s right. We tried their coffee. We kind of fell in love with their packaging.
Ray: It’s nice packaging. It’s very unique.
Kandace: They were all super friendly.
Ray: It’s a kind of a box containing the bag that seals the coffee.
Kandace: It actually is a box. It’s a box, but it feels like opening a flask.
Kandace: A box flask.
Ray: But you wouldn’t want to drink straight out of it, would you, Kandace?
Kandace: Nope. A funny thing happened. These folks are in Nashville, a little far away to have on set. I sent them some questions and they sent us back a documentary-style answers. We’re not going to mess with that too much-
Ray: They basically did our work for us this week-
Kandace: All of it.
Ray: We’re pretty much just going to turn it over to Barista Parlor to tell you, tell us all, their story.
Christopher: My name is Christopher. I’ve worked with Barista Parlor for over five years now. My official title is, Managing Director, but of course, with any small, growing company I do many things whatever is called on at the time. I’m lead roaster, I do wholesale, I oversee operations at the shops, even though I’ve a lot of help there. I’ve got some great store leaders. Mark, Retail Director, does a really stellar job with that.
When Barista Parlor opened, Nashville was on the verge of this ridiculous growth we’re going through right now. East Nashville in particular, which is where our first location is. I feel like Andy Mumma, the owner, made the correct decision at the correct time to open in East Nashville. It was set to boom.
At the time, there wasn’t a lot of coffee for the size of this city. You had some of the old school players. You had some of the mainstays here, but as far as bleeding edge specialty coffee, there was nothing available.
When we opened, we had siphons, there’s absolutely no drip coffee at all; not that there’s anything wrong with drip. In fact, we recently introduced drip coffee. At the time, it was all by the cup, by hand. For the most part, everybody was very receptive. They got behind it.
We had some of the leading roasters in the country at the time; Stumptown, Counter Culture; Intelligentsia; Sightglass; Coava; we’ve even worked with Tim Wendelboe. We’ve had some Drop Coffee in. It was very nice times. A lot of experimentation. People in Nashville were very open. Everybody that came to town, loved it and they still do.
People ask all the time about our transition from being a multi-roaster to roasting our own. The primary question is, why? I think anybody that has ever … Even a lot of successful multi-roasters now, and I feel that model has really taken off in the last few years; passion gives way to passion. We’re very passionate about coffee here. We love to grow; we love to challenge ourselves and from the very beginning, we knew that that was something that we wanted to do. It was just a matter of when.
Being able to work with so many great roasters, allowed us to do a lot of research, a lot of development, taste many different styles of roasting. Within the model of light roasted coffee, there’s a breadth of roast styles.
We roast on a Diedrich. Right now everything is CR25. It’s again, we’ve tasted a lot of different coffees from a lot of different roasters from all over the world. It seemed that constantly, coffees we tasted, we preferred they were roasted on a Diedrich.
We went out to Idaho; toured the facility; looked at the roasters; got our hands on some; it just fit. I love the coffees that it has capabilities of producing. We buy quality green and this is able to produce the characteristics that we like to see, but that’s Diedrich USA.
We’ve always made it a point to work with people that we can connect to. We like to work with people that are passionate; just as passionate about what they do, as what we do. It just creates so much synergy.
A few of the people that we’ve worked with are Isle of Printing, we worked with Gifford’s Bacon, Porter Road Butcher, Amore Erwin, Jonathan Malfris, Erin Rossburg, Nick Dryden for architecture, Willow Farms, Hatcher Family Dairy, the list goes on, but like I said, anyone that fits the same level of passion for what they do, we seek them out.
Even the guy behind the camera, Adam. He’s right there, you can’t see him, but he’s right there. Yay, there you go. He does some really rad stuff. We even have Barista’s that are supremely talented and you’ll catch their artwork sometimes on posters or their shots on Instagram, but we just attract creative people and I love that.
Art and commerce connecting and thriving and creating synergy has always been one of our founding principles. I don’t believe that art and commerce should be opposed to one another. They can live in harmony and we want Barista Parlor to be a place where people can come every day and we want to fuel your creativity. We want to help you be the best version of yourself that you possibly can be.
I know that sounds cheesy, but that’s coffee. It’s different. Coffee is more than just a caffeine vehicle. It’s what community can be created around and we see that; we notice that. Part of what makes me happy to do what I do, is seeing people be inspired and we want to do that.
Coffee packaging. This guy right here is actually many years in the making. I think it’s an extension about everything we talked of, up to this point; art and commerce, connecting, driving, looking for local artist and artisans. It is surprising, I remember sitting on the East side, it’s the only location we had when we first opened. Been about a year or so and Andy, the owner, we were in the back and he was sitting at the desk and he was sketching and this is surprising close to what he had sketched out that day.
This is something that we worked with Bryce at Isle of Printing. The outside is printed old school, printing presses, there are seven to eight components involved with this thing and all but one is made or produced here in Nashville and that’s again, just part of what we do.
This will remain. This is great, this great triumph. It’s awesome and people have loved it, but we’re also working on an additional 12 ounce package, I won’t say what, but this one is eight ounces, we’re working on the 12 ounce. But that’s in the works. Stay tuned.
Part of our DNA and what makes us tick is, pursuing new heights and new efficiencies, new levels of quality, and with that passion breeds passion, so we are open to growth and hopefully wherever you are right now, you’re watching this, we’ll be ither, whether it be through wholesale or retail, we’ll be where you are very soon.
We are ramping up wholesale a little bit. We’ve taken the last couple of years to really hone in our roasting; nail that down. Feedback has been great and I think we’re ready to roll. Yeah, what’s next. If there’s something that is “it” in coffee right now, take a good bet, we’re going to take that further because that’s what we do.
Ray: Barista Parlor of Nashville, Tennessee.
Ray: See we switched roles this time. Switched sides.