Barista Parlor - Golden Sound, Nashville, TN
610 Magazine St, Nashville, TN 37203
Barista Parlor is truly in a realm of its own. It’s recognized by most as the coffee giant in Nashville. If we’re being honest, the shop’s incredible aesthetics account largely for its rise to the top; however, it would be unfair to stop there and not pay recognition to its significant qualities that truly make it an excelsior coffee shop.
If you’re only able to visit one coffee shop in Nashville, Barista Parlor Golden Sound is the one.
The Barista Parlor Story
Andy Mumma created Nashville’s finest artisan coffee shop in a renovated auto-transmission garage in East Nashville in 2012. In addition to being the first coffee shop to serve Stumptown Coffee, the coffee shop was unlike anything Nashville had seen before. Every piece and detail, all the way down to the Barista’s blue jeans, were selected with intention. More on these artisan details later (under ‘The Design’).
Barista Parlor distinguishes itself as a place where art, coffee and commerce meet. Each shop has maintained the identify and features of its previous occupants. The original shop in East Asheville has kept elements of its former auto shop; Golden Sound in the Gulch maintains elements of the earlier recording studio and the Germantown shop still has reflections from its old drum shop. Andy has kept the design as local as possible, with creations and designs from mostly local Nashville artists.
Andy’s goal was to create a space where people can come sip coffee and be inspired. The staff that work here are true professionals at their craft and act like nothing less. The coffee, design and food menu encircle one another in a trifecta of goodness that is rarely seen anywhere else in Tennessee.
At its inception in 2012, Barista served multiple roasts, to include lots from roasters like Intelligentsia, Counter Culture and Verve. However, it made the transition from multi-roaster to roasting its own coffee in 2016. Andy desired to go a step beyond Fair Trade and into the realm of direct trade, where roasters can establish a direct relationship with growers and even pay over the fair trade price to ensure the best practices are used on the front end by growers.
Roasting for all Barista locations take place inside the Golden Sound shop. At the back of the shop, behind the the glass garage doors, you can spy their Diedrich CR-25 roaster and barrels of green coffee beans ready for roast. Baristas are on display as the center of the shop, using top of the line speciality coffee elements: siphon bars, Slayer espresso machines and Yama cold-brew towers.
The pour-overs favor prominently at the top of the menu, to be followed by espresso and cold brew options. Of course, there are a few specialty or flavored coffee options for those looking for something more sweet. But, in whole, this place is a coffee snob’s dream.
Menu items are intentionally and locally sourced, with most foods made local in shop. The shop wouldn’t be true to Nashville without southern food offerings. Aside from their nearly irresistible pastry selection are an offering of biscuits. Barista partners with local Porter Road Butcher for their quality sausage and prepares other items, such as their peach preserves, in house. Some items, are however, brought in directly. For example, the donuts are from Tennessee-favorite Five Daughters Bakery, a donut shop who specializes in making their fried goodies extra flaky with croissant dough.
As a nice touch, the menu offerings come with a bandana as a napkin. It’s the small things, you know.
The Design, The One-of-a-Kind Aesthetic
The design at Golden Sound is based around the 1960’s Space Age. The original shop is dominated by an old-world nautical theme and the newest Germantown location takes its inspiration from old race cars. What’s consistent between them is a dedicated effort to 1) keep the space open, with the barista’s primary workspace in the center, and 2) bedecked it with the best furniture and design elements from local craftsman. Mumma has worked with Nashville artists to create a truly prominent display of Nashvillian talent. The stellar design of the first location in East Nashville earned a write-up from the New York Times in 2012.
Below are just some of the contributors to the iconic elements at Golden Sound:
Holler Design crafted the epic long wooden tables that stand as bulwarks on three edges of the shop.
Aaron Rosburg of AACraftsman built counters, cabinets and a giant wooden anchor.
Adam Gatchel of Southern Lights Electric carefully selected the vintage/modern light fixtures.
Bryan McCloud of Isle of Printing manifested the wooden menus and “Alpha Boy” table numbers. He also created the the mural of “The Prussian,” a ship that sank in the 20s and carried the largest payload of the time.
Hazelwood Laboratories built a custom surround sound system, playing off a record machine.
Otis James pieces together the porcelain cups.
Imogene and Willie stitches the barista’s well-recognized jeans.
Emil Erwin designed the custom waxed aprons and leather embroidered aprons + bags.
The final product, where all these artists come together and collaborate on a truly original design, is what Mumma notes as “nothing short of magic.” And right he is. Mumma has been able to preserve the original architecture of these spaces, while adding a combination of modern and vintage elements into a beautiful sum. The final effect will have you sitting at one of their beautiful long tables, both mesmerized and perplexed at the design work around you.
The Bottom Line
If I haven’t sold you on the individuality and uniqueness of this location, then I’ve failed. If this isn’t at the top of your “must visit while in Nashville” list… I’m sorry.
It’s got great coffee, a stunning aesthetic (supported by Nashville locals) and some dang good breakfast items. Not the place to have brunch with your six best friends, but a place to take a friend or two whether you live in Nashville or are visiting for the first time. Or, be like me and go by yourself so you can sit in silent admiration. Either way, tell me how much you love it when you’re done.