Revelator, Nashville, TN
1817 21st Ave S, Nashville, TN 37212
Folks, we’ve arrived at the END of the Nashville series. Over two weeks in Nashville, I was able to visit 11 independent coffee shops. What never ceases to amaze me is the uniqueness of every single one: uniqueness of story, of vibe, of staff, of menu or of mission. This is the stuff that chain or corporate can’t give you. Sure, you may get some warm fuzzies by getting to know the staff at your local Starbucks and the barista might even memorize your drink order. However, they can’t bring you a story behind your drink. They can’t talk about their relationship with coffee farmers, say, in Guatemala. They won’t go into detail about the moment when they were able to roast for themselves. They can’t tell you about the small farms and bakeries they partner with for their local food menu.
Some of these independent coffee shops have done so well that they’ve been able to expand to multiple locations. And in some rare cases, they’re able to expand across different states.
Revelator Coffee is a roaster who’s expanded and multiplied across America’s Southeast and this is their shop in Nashville, TN.
If you live in America’s Southeast, chances are high that you’ve seen this roaster at least once. Revelator has become fairly ubiquitous among Southerners. At one point time, it was their expressed desire to become the Blue Bottle of the South. They showed the West-coast dominated coffee scene that the Southeast had something significant to offer to the coffee community.
Revelator began in 2014 when its three founders Josh Owen, Emma Chevalier, and Elizabeth Pogue met up in New Orleans and began roasting. They started as friends and co-workers, roasting coffee amongst each other and over-time, grew their small business into an empire. By 2015, they’d opened up a 15,000 ft roasting location in Birmingham, Alabama and began expanding their storefronts in Atlanta. Since 2014, they’ve grown into a behemoth and partner with coffee shops all over the U.S. They’ve built up shops that support and welcome all walks of life from the local community. At their heart, they wish to emphasize simplicity and quality.
The Nashville coffee shop discussed today does that just that. This location opened in September 2015, making it Revelator’s fifth location.
Revelator takes pride in their coffee sourcing, citing “knowledge, experience” and trust as pillars of their sourcing model. Revelator partners directly with coffee farmers at origin and builds strong relationships with people who are as passionate as they are about good, quality coffee. They source coffee seasonally, meaning the options will likely change over time. In doing this, they’re able to bring breadth and variety to their customers.
The coffee menu is simple and purposely so. Revelator is true to their purist coffee concept. The only thing added to espresso here is milk. There are no caramel or vanilla lattes. The only options for sweetener are cane syrup and chocolate. To the coffee snob, this is a pure genius. To the average passerby, this can be immensely frustrating. Their minimalist menu explains the dramatic range in ratings you’d see on Yelp.
If you opt for filter coffee, you get to choose between a range of single origin options. All filter coffee is slowly and meticulously prepared on a Chemex and espresso-based options are pulled on Slayer espresso machines. Because milk makes up the greater part of any latte or cappuccino, Revelator has raised the bar here as well. The Nashville location sources from JD Country Milk, a Kentucky-based grass-fed only dairy farmer.
I chose a Guatemalan filter coffee and was delighted with the crisp, fruity notes.
Espresso + milk (4, 6, 8 and 10 oz milk options)
Espresso + milk + chocolate
* Milk Substitute Options: Almond and Soy
Like a good coffee shop, there are some solid, simple breakfast options. Revelator offers carbs in all shapes and sizes; scones, muffins, bagels, toast and jam and avocado toast (of course). If you’re looking for something hot, fresh and made to order, there are some bagel sandwiches. For those avoiding the carboload, there are a couple chia puddings. Just looking for a treat? Try one of their chocolate truffles.
I didn’t get to the shop until late morning and having already eaten, I didn’t get any food. The pastries were fairly picked over by then anyway. But, the guy next to me made me think really hard about going for a second breakfast. His avocado toast looked amazing (what avotoast doesn’t?) A self-announced regular of Revelator, he adds an egg on top, which he insists is a must. I mean… I’m not going to disagree with him.
Seating and Space
Revelator follows a minimalist Scandinavian vibe. The slick bartop and clean barista space gives a great sense of calm. Coffee is served in Revelator’s iconic ceramic mugs, a touch which I always enjoy.
The seating is limited to small tables and bar top seating. Most folks are here for the quiet, chill vibe. The shop is densely populated by students from the surrounding area. You’ll also see quite a few folks pop in from shopping in the Hillsboro area.
The Bottom Line
If you’re really into coffee, this place is a must. It’s a beacon of Southern coffee culture in what could arguably be the South’s coffee capitol. The shop is willing to frustrate casual passerbys with their coffee purist menu. It specializes in true specialty coffee. The baristas are kind and knowledgable, which eases the great potential for coffee snobbery and the menu provides simple, but tempting munching options. If you’ve got a friend who’s really into high-quality coffee, this place is your jam. Or if you’re into coffee, come and sip on one of their methodically made drinks alone.