1. Ugly Mugs. This little place is about a block from my house, in a nice little cove of restaurants along Eastland Road in East Nashville. Spacious with lots of natural light, and with a converted glass garage door that they open on nice days, this is a lovely little spot to spend an afternoon. Their mochas are delicious; I frequently stop by to pick one up on the way to work.
2. Frothy Monkey. This one is over in the 12 South district, which hosts a number of little boutiques and restaurants. Several levels and a wrap-around porch with outdoor seating make up the layout, and it is always filled with a laid-back, cool clientele. They also serve drinks in an almost soup bowl sized cup.
3. The Well. Now let's move on to Green Hills, the more posh side of town. The Well doesn't really fit that description though. All the proceeds go to building wells in Africa, and it's the only place in town that makes frozen coffee drinks. This one has a more energetic vibe, with lots of students and young people coming in and out. Get there at an off-time though, it's usually so packed it's hard to find a seat.
4. Crema. This one is the closest to downtown. The atmosphere is quite charming, cozy, and they have a nice selection of muffins and pastries. The abundance of wood surfaces, an area with big leather armchairs, and snug arrangement of tables lends itself to the more casual, down-home feel; perfect for a rainy day.
5. Bongo Java. This seemingly hole-in-the-wall spot in The Five Points in East Nashville, is actually quite roomy inside. This one is more earthy, almost hearty in a way. It is a social spot, with more groups of friends meeting up, and families with small children, than people working quietly on their computers. It's menu is a little more exotic as well, with more specialty drink options than the regular mocha, americano, and latte varieties, like The Milky Way, a caramel-y, chocolate-y, mocha-y delight (pictured below).
(photos by e.hunt)