The Jam Coffeehouse is located on near the corner of 12th and Wedgewood. For such a trendy location, Jam is still relatively unknown (outside of Belmont students). Its specific location probably doesn't help. Located in a strip mall with a hair salon and a dojo, it can be easily passed by. But we'd heard about Jam (Laura is a Belmont alum, after all), so it's been on our list for a while. In fact, we tried to go previously, but were thwarted by the hours. While google says it's open until 6 or 7pm each day, it is wrong. The Jam closes at 3pm on weekdays. Learn from our mistakes, people; that's why we're here. Atmosphere:
Jam is very small. There were three tables with four chairs each, one high table with bar chairs, a couple of chairs around the counter, and three small seating areas. This makes it sound bigger than it is. There is one, maybe two, small tables outside.
The décor is all retro/random antiques/stuff from someone's grandmother's house. It's maybe all mid-century, but definitely across several years. It works better in some places, like in one of the small seating areas that has two retro chairs and an old fireplace.
We appreciated what they were going for, if a little haphazardly executed.
There is a distinct smell in the coffee shop that we tried to identify. It's a little minty, maybe also with a hint of bananas or yogurt or trash. Throw in a dash of antiques and tea. Overall, it smells healthy. They serve healthy smoothies and concoctions and things, so they probably had some sort of essential oils going through a humidifier or something.
Which leads us to our next point: it was hot. We mean, REALLY hot. Like, baristas-wiping-foreheads hot. To be fair it was about 8000 degrees outside with 400 percent humidity (Tennessee in August, ARE WE RIGHT?). But come on guys. The ironic thing was that the air ducts were clearly visible on the ceiling. They were RIGHT THERE. But not doing anything.
Interestingly enough, this did not deter patrons in the slightest. A few people were studying contentedly, occasionally chatting with baristas, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were memorizing music theory in a sweatbox. A group of people sat together with papers strewn about -- some in business attire, some not. We thought perhaps they might be getting together on their respective lunch breaks to talk about a new nonprofit initiative or something. Another big group came in -- the members of which all knew the people behind the counter, and people were coming and going the whole time.
The music in the shop was a fun mix that seemed to just be whatever the baristas had on their ipods (Mariah Carey and No Doubt both made appearances). There was a lot of dancing going on behind the counter. We think they actually like being around each other.
The shop seems to be frequented by more hippies than hipsters. Well, hippies, and people in the middle of a workout. (We saw a lot of Belmont athletes.) And college students.
The strange thing was, though it was not pretentious in the slightest, it was like we were walking into a club we were clearly not a part of. Everyone seemed to know the baristas and it was just this big living room full of friends who don't believe in air conditioning but do believe in the healing power of kombucha.
The Jam has a breakfast and lunch menu, along with a wide selection of teas, coffee beverages and smoothies. They definitely gets points for their drink names. Menu items include Caramel Like Whoa, YOLO, and Reverse the Curse (helps relieve stress, cramps, fatigue, and inflammation).
E: I got to the shop in time for lunch and got the Bok Bok Panini--chicken, pesto, colby jack cheese, and avocado on flaxseed bread. It came with cashews, which seemed a little odd, but whatever. It was pretty great.
All menu items are offered gluten free and/or "sprouted." We're not 100% sure what "sprouted" means, but it cost $1 extra, so I opted out. (Is anyone REALLY enthusiastic about sprouts anyway? They're basically a garnish. - L)
For a drink, I first got a Velvet Revolver, which is vanilla, chocolate, and mint tea with non-homogenized milk and organic can sugar. While all those things are good and I like them, somehow the combination tasted like medicine.
Tea Taste Rating #1: 0.
I couldn't drink it. I knew Starbucks has a guarantee on their drinks and worked up the courage to ask if The Jam had a similar policy. The barista was nice enough to fix me another drink for free. This time I got the Totally Assom, which is not pronounced like the punny name. It's Assom Black Tea with local raw honey and local non-homogenized milk.* It also tasted a little odd (maybe it's the non-homogenization?), but was much better than the Velvet Revolver.
Tea Taste Rating #2: 3.
L: I got an iced vanilla latte. The barista said they would make it for me but next time I had to try the Caramel Like Whoa. He was wearing a Run DMC shirt so I figured I could trust him. The vanilla latte was good, not great. At first the vanilla flavor tasted a little strange -- maybe it was squeezed from an organic vanilla bean that morning or something -- but it got better as it went along.
No latte art obviously, but I couldn't get a hot latte. Did I mention the A/C was out?
Latte taste rating: 6
The baristas were friendly enough, despite the fact that they were sweating, which is a feat of customer service. They were nice enough to change E's drink and seemed to really like each other. It was almost as if they were a big group of friends who like 90s music and just happened to all get jobs at the same coffee shop. There was a strong team feeling among them.
While the baristas were nice, the service was super slow. It took a while to get E's food, and probably 15 min for each of our drinks. (We weren't counting, but that seems like a fair estimate. WE WERE SWEATING TOO OK?)
Parking: 9. There's a lot right outside the shop with about as many parking spaces as chairs in the shop.
Location: 4. The location of Wedgewood and 12th is great, but the strip mall specifically throws off the atmosphere.
Baseball Caps: 5. (Several of the baristas were wearing like legitimate flat-brimmed baseball caps -- and two were girls. And it looked intentional, like part of their look. One Yankees, one Dodgers, etc...is this becoming A Thing? Or is this just A Thing at the Jam?)
Leggings as Pants: 2.
Song Writing Majors: at least 1.
Dreadlocks: 1. (literally, one dread.)
Level of Uncomfortableness Upon Walking In: 7. Mostly because of the weird smell and how small the shop is. Oh, and how physically uncomfortable the temperature was.
Level of Pretentiousness: 3
Have you ever been to Jam? What fun drink did you order? Do you prefer your milk homogenized? (It should be noted that we spent an inordinate amount of time researching milk homogenization during our visit to The Jam.)