Best Trend of the Moment (Post Cupcakes)


A decade ago, as Starbucks sprouted faster than kudzu in Middle Tennessee soil, the region's mom-and-pop coffeehouses took a noticeable hit. Now it's the Evil Empire that's reeling from overexpansion, while independently owned and operated java joints are starting to flourish once again, bringing back the local flavor of (and focus on) their neighborhoods. And they're all as different from each other as they are from Starbucks, even when they serve beans from local upstart Drew's Brews: The tiny storefront Sip in Riverside Village or Sky Blue Coffee on Fatherland seems a world apart from sleek, spacious Ugly Mugs on Eastland, even though they reside just a few miles from each other in East Nashville. They're all great, but our hearts belong to Rachel Lehman's Crema, a haven of commute comfort overlooking Rolling Mill Hill, and Kat Roos' DrinkHaus, a bewitching little jewelbox of a shop that Germantown has already clasped to its breast. Try 'em all—and show Bongo Bob Bernstein some love while you're at it. —JIM RIDLEY

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