The Well, Nashville, TN
147B 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219
This coffee shop brings us back to downtown Nashville. I stayed downtown for my entire two weeks in town and stayed fairly loyal to the downtown area for food and coffee on weekdays. But to be fair, my loyalty mostly stemmed from the fact: 1) I had to be at work by 8 AM and 2) most shops closed by the time I got off. Let’s just say I was very appreciative of shops that opened at 7 AM.
The unique mission at Well Coffee House made my morning especially bright.
Before I dig into talking about the Well’s mission in detail, I first want to highlight that this downtown location is just one of six storefronts. There are two other Nashville locations and two more elsewhere in Tennessee. They’ve poked their head up farther up north in Fishers, Indiana as well. The Well has been expanding fairly quickly since their first store opened in 2012, but have been very intentional and methodical with where they open each storefront.
What make it so special? The Well is a self-described ‘non-profit missional coffeehouse.’ It means that your purchase is elevated and sent back into the world in order to help those in need. Co-Founders Chris Soper and Rob Touchstone say that The Well is, at its heart, about community. These founders didn’t want to just satiate the need for physical thirst, but meet each individual’s thirst for community and connection. They’ve got a declarations on the wall of each shop to make known that ALL are welcome and wanted in their space.
After meeting community needs, they expand outward. The proceeds from each purchase go towards digging wells across the globe. The Well partners with global NGOs like The Living Water Project, Christian Relief Fund and Blood:Water to achieve their goal.
The Well is just as much about their coffee as they are about their mission. In February 2012, they began roasting their own beans in an off-site warehouse. The same warehouse serves as their training hub, where they’re equipping Nashville locals to work in the shop. Every ounce of this place, from the design to the employees, was cultivated with intention.
Nashville is, however, an incredibly saturated coffee market. Roasters like Frothy Monkey, Bongo Java and Revelator are ubiquitous throughout town. At least one of these big names can be spotted in most every Nashville restaurant. But, as one of their founders explained in 2016, the Well wants their quality to be what sets them apart. The Well wants customers to know they’re getting an excellent cup of coffee in each cup and that each cup is going on to make a difference in world.
The Well’s aesthetics, coffee presentation and food menu may not stack up against giants like the Barista Parlor, but customers will be hard pressed to find another coffee shop with as much heart-driven purpose as this one.
The Coffee Options and Menu
The Well is standard of a third wave coffee shop. It has hand-poured, drip, cold brew and espresso options. When I went around March 2018, there weren’t any sweet flavored latte offerings, but with the holidays and more time gone by, fru-fru flavors have made a recent showing. Albeit, this fru-fru trend in third wave shops is becoming more common; these millennium age shops must survive in a consumer market that’s still stuck on Starbucks-like Vanilla Lattes, so who can blame them for them?
And while I love the mission, I’ll be the first to admit the menu is more basic and sparse. The avocado toast isn’t something to get too excited over, but at least it’s offered! There are also a few sweet and savory breakfast options and lunch sandwich-like offerings as well.
I ordered a single-origin pour-over and a bagel to go for breakfast. The coffee was good and the bagel was… well a bagel.
The Wishing Well
The Wishing Well can be somewhat deceptive, as this isn’t just a place for wishful thinking. There’s no throwing pennies in a well with a forlorn hope of conclusion. Instead, members of the community can post needs on this Wishing Well wall that other members can fulfill. It’s way that a community can interact and truly be of service to one another.
Stories of impact abound. At the top of this write-up, you’ll see a another wall of the world where the Well has conducted missions all over, changing lives in places like the Congo and Kenya. They’ve installed 23 wells across the globe and have radically improved thousands of lives. A single well is no small feat when bearing in mind that it can cost up to $18,000 for a single one!
This shop hits close the heart strings. Its mission is so inspiring, that it makes you to come by for coffee as a way of saying ‘Hey, you’re doing an amazing thing and I want to be apart of it!’ I wouldn’t plan to lead a group of friends here for breakfast or lunch, but I would recommend that people stop in, order a quick coffee to stay or go. Maybe this becomes your spot to get some work done on free wifi. It’s too much of an inspiration to pass up!