BOX - Bongo on 10th, Nashville, TN
2229 10th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37204
Bongo Java is a cult classic of Nashville. It’s in almost every local grocery store and commonly found in restaurants and other coffee shops across town. I have no exaggeration when I say that most locals have visited at least one Bongo-inspired shop. However, if you knew that there eleven spread across Nashville, you wouldn’t find this too hard to believe. On my last day in town, I finished up work early around 2 PM. With sunny 70 degree weather, I walked along 12 Avenue South from downtown toward Belmont University. I’d just popped in another local coffee shop and was looking for less chaotic vibes, so instead of opting for their original shop near the university, I walked a mile away to this more secluded location.
BOX is a neighborhood retreat full of Macbooks and young adults bustling quietly away on homework or telework.
The original Bongo coffee house, referred to as Bongo Java, is the Nashville’s oldest coffee shop. Located across from Belmont University in a Hillsboro neighborhood, the original cafe opened in 1993. Yet, it wasn’t until 1996 that the cafe struck a gold mine and gained instant notoriety for the ‘nun bun’: a cinnamon bun that looked astonishing similar to Mother Theresa.
Over the next three decades, Bongo became more renown for their organic coffee; eleven storefronts sell their delicious coffee across Nashville. Next to the OG location, the Fido location has topped the charts for being Nashville’s favorite coffee shop over the past two decades. Fido is funky pet-shop-converted-coffee house located in Hillboro’s West End; it’s just as known for its organic and regionally produced food fare as it is for its coffee.
Bongo is on the cusp of the fourth-wave coffee movement. Bongo cares about more than just the taste of the coffee; they care about how its grown and sourced. All of their coffee is Certified Organic and purchased from small family owned farms at prices higher than Fair Trade. Bongo has been working with small scale farmers for over 13 years. They cared about the true meaning of quality coffee before the rest of the world was even talking about it.
Why BOX? A bakery + coffee shop.
So what makes the BOX location unique? First off - its name. It took me a moment to figure it out… but BOX is short for Bongo and Bakery on 10th. For you thick-minded folks like me, B is for Bongo Bakery and the X stands for 10th. BOX 1) serves Bongo’s organic coffee 2) is complete with an in-house bakery and 3) includes a menu for breakfast and lunch. From my perspective, BOX serves as an escape from the hustle of 12th Avenue South. It’s full of young adults who are looking for a quiet place to work or study. Like the other Bongo locations, its decor is ultra trendy (and very boxy) as well.
The coffee menu is composed almost entirely of espresso based drinks. No manual or pour-over options here, though devotees would tell you they don’t mind. I myself was in a jittery state and need something besides coffee to keep me stable. Bongo is great about offering seasonal drinks, so I chose their Pear Matcha Tea option. It noted matcha with hints of honey, clove, lemon and pear. It ended up being a little sweet for my taste, but its a refreshingly different treat.
Food + Baked Goods
I missed the early morning baked good train, so I found myself mostly deciding between bagels and brownies for a late afternoon snack. I opted for a magic bar. If I would have known better, I would have gone ahead ordered one of the fantastic freshly-made menu options. For you folks, take a close look at the:
Waverly Biscuit or Belmont Biscuit
As I mentioned earlier, the vibe is very chill and relaxed. The shop was effectively silent, short a chatty couple next to me discussing the most lecture in their English Romantics class. The decor is very minimal. The bright colors and eclectic light fixtures lighten the place up and make the store feel modern. The square tables and classroom like chairs, however, end up shaping the vibe up into that of a study hall.
The Bottom Line
BOX is a great location for students, teleworkers or friends looking for quiet place to catch up. It’s not a place to seek out and visit if you’re in town for the weekend, but a great alternative if you’re overwhelmed from the bustle of the city and university. It’s got Bongo’s coffee, a good range of food fare options and fresh baked goodies if you show up early enough.