Dose Coffee and Tea // Nashville, TN
Stop number five of the #NashCrawl, once again with my unofficial Nashville coffee scene tour guide, Chris Ayers. I’m pretty jittery at this point. Dehydration is definitely settling in. So glad this is the last stop—I don’t think I can drink another cup. At this point, I’ve had somewhere between 96-120 ounces of black coffee and 24 ounces of espresso in about a four-hour period. I’m not used to doing this sort of slurping…
I’m following Chris here from Ugly Mugs, though I probably shouldn’t be driving. There are two points at either end of the body’s equilibrium that stand in stark contrast to each other while still producing the same results: there’s the inebriation, loss of motor skills, and decreased brain activity that too much consumption of alcohol brings about, then there’s the inebriation, loss of motor skills, and increased brain activity that too much consumption of caffeine brings about.
Too far in either direction, you should not be behind the wheel of a car. (“the more you know…”)
We pull into the small, narrow parking lot of an equally small strip mall. The building is brown and has a partially tin roof. That’s really the best way to describe it. A long, brown building that has tin on it. Much like CREMA, it’s an almost completely nondescript building—maybe this is a Nashville thing? So far, three of the four cafes in Nashville that the Table is reviewing are totally unassuming—one in an abandoned repair shop, one tucked into a suburban plaza in the middle of a residential area, and this one, located inside a nondescript, brown building on the side of a highway leading out of town.
The only way I knew where we were going was the small sign in the parking lot.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of Dose Coffee and Tea Nashville. Tell Chris to scoot over and feel free to pull up a chair.
Dose, which has been serving up some of the country’s finest coffee since 2009, is considered an absolute “must” when considering places to stop for coffee in Nashville, the South at large, or, hell, anywhere else in the country for that matter. Just ask the editors of Complex, Food and Wine, or Imbibe Magazine who all rank Dose in their Top “x amount of places” to drink coffee.
And it should come as no surprise that Dose is so highly regarded. The shop already had a lot of experience under its belt when, like the fabled Phoenix, it rose up out of the ashes of Portland Brew under the guidance of two former PB baristas, Keith Steunebrink and Heath Henley. Refusing to let the failures of the previous ownership ruin their commitment to serving great coffee, they bought the building from Portland Brew, changed the name on the sign, remodeled the interior, expanded the menu, and expanded their services.
The interior of this shop is nothing short of soothing, blissful, lucid even. While I was there, the music provided a steady flow of Bon Iver, Otis Redding, Iron and Wine—the perfect melodies to slow the rush of the day’s previous cups, still coursing through my system.
Deep, dark Earth tones and industrial steel coalesce deep blues, mahogany, chestnut, and oak color the walls, the booths, the shelving, the register area, the espresso machine; everything held up by a crema-colored wood floor. The space is long and narrow, with booths and merchandising shelving lining wall and a panel of large windows on the other while a strip of tables and chairs acts as a dividing line down the middle of the shop.
The coffee bar itself—where the register, La Marzocco, and manual brew bar reside—is a massive, solid piece of engineering. The bar is a massive helm, guiding the cafe; or, maybe it’s a massive anchor, keeping the cafe steady, letting know the customer know that while its predecessor disappeared, Dose is here to stay.
Their coffee menu is comprised of regular selections from North Carolina’s Counter Culture Coffee as well as a By-the-Cup menu featuring coffee roasters from around the country. When I was there, I had two different coffees from Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz, California (upping my intake to 112-136 ounces of black coffee); currently, they’re featuring two selection from Kaldi’s Coffee, from St. Louis, Missouri: their Mexico Coatapec (which I’ve reviewed here) and Guatemala San Pedro La Laguna.
Like Ugly Mugs (and, indeed, myself), Dose is a champion of the Clever brewer which they employ on their brew bar; however, like CREMA, they also feature other brewing devices, like the Chemex. Of course, these are all things you can buy in the shop—it’s all there. Furthermore, they’ll show you how to use it.
Besides the brewing specifications that they provide on their website for any given featured coffee (seriously—they do that), they also routinely offer classes, tastings, and training sessions that are open to the public. Most recently, they held a chocolate tasting event to celebrate their third anniversary, where they provided uniquely paired treats from Counter Culture and Askinosie Chocolate.
I immediately liked Dose when I stepped foot inside, but I really came to love it after chatting with Heath and Keith and experiencing firsthand their profound love of coffee. You know, it’s very difficult to even try to forge a life for yourself in the coffee industry by making it a career—it’s a daunting goal. It’s particularly daunting when you’ve been part of a shop that got business ownership wrong. Heath and Keith rose to the challenge, though.
Dose Coffee and Tea is a thriving coffee business and a prominent presence in the Nashville coffee scene.