Eighth and Roast is located on -- you guessed it -- 8th Ave. S, across the street from Zanies comedy club. (It is sometimes referred to as "Roast, Inc.," like on Apple Maps and some places on the Internet. We just didn't want anyone to be confused.)
Eighth Ave. feels like a unique spot for a coffee shop, but that's probably why it stays busy. It's squeezed in right between Pre- to Post-Modern and Douglas Corner Cafe, so if you don't realize it's there, you might miss it.
Outside the shop, there was a group of older men chatting, smoking and laughing when we walked up. It was adorable and reminded us of a small-town general store (not to be confused with the inner-city Dollar General Store across the street).
If you've never been before, you'll be surprised what you find when you walk in. It's more spacious than you might expect, and though 8th south is definitely not known for being as hip 12th south, it's got the look and feel we've come to love from Nashville shops.
There are a couple of long community tables that we believe are made out of a repurposed bowling alley floor, proving you really can recycle anything. They also have a bar that wraps around three-quarters of the room. The wood making up the bar is Tennessee wood, milled and finished on site (a chalkboard placard told us). The chairs are all metal, but surprisingly comfortable.
On one side of the shop, where the sugar and stirrers and sleeves are, they also have some coffee contraptions. [Please enjoy the following description from Elizabeth, who does not drink coffee:] One holds a beehive-looking pot, and is mostly metal except the blue digital screen. The barista fills the beehive pot and then pours its contents into two paper-like funnels sitting in a metal ice cream cone stand. The liquid (I guess coffee at this point), flows down into other beehive pots, this time made of glass. Then I stopped watching because I got bored/distracted. There are also jars of beans and various pots.
On the other side of the shop, there is a bookshelf with various home brewing solutions and bags of coffee for sale.
The decor is definitely fancy industrial(™). There isn't much art on the walls. Just a custom pop-art piece and a 'slow' road sign. The lights are all simple bulbs (the hip kind where you can see the filaments) hanging from wires.
There were all different types of people at Eighth and Roast on a Saturday morning: runners, hipsters, moms and dads with small children (Laura may or may not have initiated friendship with a toddler), people assumably trying to get work done (but maybe just looking at cat videos), tourists doing some shopping...all there. We sat at one of the large community-style tables and overheard the following, which we think properly sums up the quintessential conversation happening at a Nashville coffee shop:
"Yeah, you know, we're just praying for a lot of wisdom or some kind of revelation...just some provision for him to not be on the road all the time." Nashville is conveniently located at the intersection of Jesus and Tour Dates.
Eighth and Roast has lots of fancy coffee. And by fancy, we mean hipster-fancy, in which it's actually the brewing technique that's fancy, not highly-seasonal syrups and whipped cream. (Though, they do have syrups. And probably whipped cream.) They also have various pastries and breakfast sandwiches.
E: Chai is not on the menu, but it can be ordered. #SecretMenu. The following dialogue occurred when I ordered.
Me: Do you have chai? Plaid-clad, crew-cut barista: Yeah. Me: Can I get it iced? Barista: Yes, 16 or 20 ounce? Me: 16 ounce. Barista: Have you had firepot chai before? Me: No. Barista: It's a place on 12th South, they make it themselves. Me: Oh! I'll have to try that sometime! Barista: No, I mean, that's what this is. Me: Oh! Barista: Yeah, it's spicier and [I believe this is what he said] more memory scented. Me: Okay! [Thinking: This is Oprah chai, isn't it?]
So, I was expecting a lot from this chai. Memory scented? Wow. But let me say, I was disappointed. These memories were not the best. I mean, it wasn't, like, gross. But it was probably on the level of remembering what you had for dinner last week. It was a decent dinner, but still not like remembering a trip to Disney World as a kid.
It was super creamy, but not sweet creamy. It was not extremely spicy.
Tea Taste Rating: 5.
L: I got my standard vanilla latte (for here). It was a little strong and bitter at first, but after a few sips it was just right. I did notice there were a lot of grounds in the cup when I got to the bottom. I don't know if it was on purpose or not. It still tasted good.
Latte Taste Rating: 7.5
I also saw tiny donuts and decided I had to have one. After consulting with the barista, I chose the salted-caramel ganache donut. I mean, honestly. Look at it.
It was good -- different than I expected though. It had a little bit of a shortbread vibe, but changed in your mouth to taste more like the fried dough you know and love. The salted chocolate was an inspired choice.
Tiny Donut Taste Rating: 8 [Ok, maybe it wasn't that tiny in retrospect.]
Presentation/Service The latte art was lacking, particularly since we had just come off an experience in which people were hunger-gamesing the act of creating designs with frothed milk. It does look kind of like an Easter peep if you squint, but in the way that clouds sometimes look like dragons. All it takes is a little imagination. Latte art grade: 1
Laura enjoyed her coffee in a teal mug with a matching plate provided by the kindly barista, so this added a few presentation points to make up for the lack of art.
The plaid-clad, crew-cut barista was very nice and helpful. He seemed to enjoy his job, talking to customers, and doling out coffee advice. He actually made eye contact and smiled, you guys. He even recommended the donut Laura ended up getting because he called it 'rad.' The others were also nice, but maybe less extroverted. Several of them were also wearing plaid.
Level of uncomfortableness upon walking in: 1, but only because we had to walk around the aforementioned men outside. The shop is very welcoming.
Disheveled facial hair count: 4
Level of pretentiousness: 6. They offer SEVERAL complicated ways of making coffee and roast their own beans, but they counteract it with a welcoming atmosphere and friendly baristas. 8 for Elizabeth, because they can't stoop to the level of putting "chai latte" on their fancy chalkboard menu.
Porkpie hat count: 1
Oversized headphones count: 2 (One pair was what we are choosing to call "steampunk" headphones. They were like, brown leather with wiry gold accents.)
Nashville-based duos: 1. (Elenowen)
Parking: 5. There's a small gravel lot on the same side of the street, next door to Douglas Corner Cafe, which you can park in, and there is also street parking. We don't usually have trouble finding a spot in the gravel lot, but if it's full, it might be tricky to find another place to park nearby. Just know the gravel parking lot comes before the shop (if you're coming from Wedgewood), so be ready for that.
Overall rating: 8.5. We love this shop, its airy and friendly atmosphere and its location. Definitely worth stopping by!
Have you ever been to Eighth and Roast? What's the most unique recycling project you've ever seen? What memory would you like your chai to be scented with?