Killebrew Coffee, Nashville, TN
401 11th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203
Warning: Nashville isn’t the Old South. It’s rooted in tradition (hello, Grand Ole Opry), but it’s about as modern as any city gets. If I had to draw a comparison, I’d say it’s most similar to Austin, Texas; it’s surrounded by tradition, but this city has blossomed into the fold of the “New Generation.” It’s a city of full of music-lovers, who could give a Portland hipster a run for their money any day. One particular area is leading the heart of downtown into that modern, all-encompassing, all-people welcoming sentiment: ‘The Gulch.’ The Gulch is a newly-constructed and remodeled area housing modern staples like a wine bar, a spin studio, a juice bar, Urban Outfitters, a local grocer AND multiple independent coffee shops (and so much more). After a spin class around the corner, I popped in a coffee shop connected to the cutest boutique hotel.
Killebrew Coffee is slightly hidden, but it’s also perfectly poised for Nashville city dwellers and visitors alike.
Killebrew Coffee is one of three restaurants connected to the Thompson Nashville. The Thompson features the Marsh House - a chic restaurant known for its seafood; the L.A. Jackson, a rooftop bar featuring fancy drinks and downtown views; and Killebrew coffee, an elegant coffee shop brewing Revelator Coffee and serving irresistible pastries. The Thompson is a gem that studs the Gulch scene and Killebrew is their most accessible commodity.
I’m always fascinated by the story behind a shop’s name. The inspiration behind Killebrew is one that I found particularly neat. Killebrew coffee is named after the New South advocate and first Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, J.B. Killebrew. What’s the New South stand for, you ask? I wasn’t sure either. The Tennessee Encyclopedia came to the rescue:
New South principles: improvement and extension of the system of public education, encouragement of immigration to the South, development of natural resources for industrialization, and improvement of agriculture.
He tied agricultural development to industrialization and advocated a four-part agricultural program that included the breakup of large landholdings into smaller, independent farms; the diversification of crops to reduce southern agricultural dependence on cotton and tobacco; the enrichment of soil through subsoiling, crop rotation, and the use of commercial fertilizers; and a program to attract European immigrants to farm unoccupied and idle land.
What a guy, right? And who better to name this coffee shop after? If that’s not enough to peak your curiosity, read on.
Speaking of the New South… it’s no coincidence that Killebrew serves coffee from another jewel of the South: Revelator. If you’re wondering who Revelator is, just wait for a future blog post to come, when I’ll talk about THE Revelator location in Nashville. Until then, I’ll give you the basics. Revelator is a coffee roaster that started in Birmingham, Alabama. It’s a well-known roaster that serves high quality coffee through seasonal grower rotations to an inclusive community. It’s served all over in the Southeast and has demonstrated that high-quality, ethical coffee roasting isn’t just confined to the auspices of the United States East and West coasts.
Even though Killebrew Coffee is a small-shop that’s more often used for coffee to-go than coffee to stay, pour-over features strongly on their menu and they don’t skimp on the time to pour it properly. The menu is simple, but it offers all the options you’d typically want. It doesn’t offer fru-fru syrups and white chocolate lattes. It’s a tried and true third wave coffee shop. I had their featured single-origin pour over that day and drank it to the last drop. No surprise.
I didn’t drink it alone, of course. I had me a blueberry crumble muffin to satisfy my post-spin sugar craving. Killebrew doesn’t offer an expansive breakfast menu (that’s taken care of at the Marsh House upstairs), but it does feature the most killer pastries in town.
Chef Lisa Marie White bakes Killebrew’s pastries from her magical kitchen. White is a California -rained pastry chef who came on board with Thompson chef John Besh back in 2015 when he was in New Orleans. She started with him at Restaurant August, but she later went on with chef Kelly Fields to establish Wille Jean Bakery. After the Fields and White became the dual chef duo of the year in 2015 from Eater New Orleans, she felt a tug to follow Besh to Nashville to help found the three restaurants talked about above! Her biscuits are said to be the flakiest around. I’ll have to go back back to see if the rumors are true!
Of course, the shop itself is beautiful too. It’s like Joanna Gaines designed it herself. Subway tile, granite table tops, baby blue cabinetry and modern light fixtures. It’s farmhouse chic through and through. Even the little yellow flowers on the tables match the Gaines inventory.
The good news? It’s open at 6:30, which is earlier than the standard 7:00 at most coffee shops in Nashville. It’s serving quality beans and its staff greets you with a genuine smile. This is the place to go in Nashville for a quick coffee. Don’t plan on a big breakfast at the coffee shop itself, but at the same time, don’t miss the opportunity to try one of their delectable pastries.