Crema, in Nashville, TN, hardly needs an introduction, or really a review for that matter, because when someone mentions coffee in Nashville, Crema is probably the first café that comes to mind. Taking a quick look at their social media outlets will make it quite evident that people love Crema.
This popularity, though, is not misguided, because Crema clearly knows what they are doing when it comes to specialty coffee. They ethically source their beans from farmers with whom they have created relationships. They then roast those beans on-site at Crema, where the primary goal is to honor the farmers as well as each specific bean that is being roasted in the best way possible. Then, the baristas maintain this same desire, seeking to honor the farmers and the beans by brewing them with much care and attention to detail.
On this specific occasion, I ordered a macchiato, and my wife ordered the “Cuban.” After ordering from a cashier, who marked our order on a laminated card and checked us out with an iPad, the barista on bar immediately started making our drinks. The first thing that I noticed was that they were using naked portafilters. I am always happy to see naked, or bottomless, portafilters, because it usually means that the baristas know what they are doing. Not only that, but I was also happy to see that they weigh the grounds before every shot that is pulled. And even when it got extremely busy, the baristas worked hard and never cut any corners.
The 3 oz macchiato was fantastic! The tasting notes that their Tres Banderas Espresso Blend had listed were spot on. I tasted milk chocolate and citrusy notes very quickly, but it wasn’t until I read the tasting notes that I distinctly remember tasting wildflower honey. While those three were quite present, there was a little nuttiness about it that was quite pleasant too. While the body was nice, the aftertaste was remarkable—I felt like I tasted that thing the rest of the day. Also, the serving tray is absolutely beautiful.
The “Cuban,” then, is a 12oz latte made with sweetened condensed milk. When looking at Yelp reviews before going, we saw that this was a favorite of many customers, so we figured that we needed to try it. In the end, we really enjoyed it. It was a nice twist on a regular latte. It was sweet, but not too sweet.
On top of this, while the coffee was fantastic, Crema’s focus on being intentional in all that they do is not something that ends with coffee. It is apparent that every decision they make has a purpose. Whether that is the aesthetics of the café, or each piece of ethically sourced retail option.
One thing that I was quite happy to see was that they use Askinosie Chocolate for their mochas and have Askinosie Chocolate available for purchase as well. What I love about Askinosie Chocolate is that they are to the chocolate world what Crema and other third wave coffee roasters/cafés are to the coffee world. They put much energy into sourcing quality ingredients and maintain ethical standards in doing so. While Askinosie Chocolate has gained much recognition in the last few years for great reasons, I am also particularly akin to them because of the fact that they are not far from where I grew up. So seeing it on a shelf in Nashville is quite fun.
Another option that they had available for sale was Chai Wallah‘s Masala Chai concentrate. My wife and I had never heard of Chai Wallah before, other than the phrase being used in India for a tea-maker. Chai Wallah is a Nashville based company who not only sources fair trade ingredients, but also works with providing income for women who have experienced homelessness. They are clearly a company who has community and quality as their primary motivators.
On top of this, thanks to a commenter, I found out that Crema is a zero waste business! This means that Crema diverts at least 90% of their trash from entering a landfill. Crema says that they estimate that they are diverting 95%, which is very impressive, considering that prior to becoming a zero waste company, they were producing 28 tons of garbage every year. 28 tons is a lot of waste. Think about the impact that the coffee world would have on our planet if all coffee shops became zero waste companies!
In the end, my wife and I absolutely loved Crema. Great coffee. Great atmosphere. Great ethics. So, if you are ever in Nashville or somewhere close, definitely make a trip to Crema.