Once upon a time there was a boy in Iowa and a girl in South Carolina. Both grew up with a love and passion for writing and music. They both, still not knowing each other, followed their hearts and moved to Nashville. Their dreams first came true when landing jobs in the music industry.
Then, the stars aligned one evening and the boy met the girl. They’ve been together since. “How did you meet one another?” The inevitable question.
They look at each other. A smile that tells of years of unspoken conversation. “In a bar.” They giggle. It’s a story as old as time; however, this unique twist makes for a something special.
The boy and girl - Dave and Julia - knew they wanted to make East Nashville their forever home. In May 2010, just a week after the flood, Julia - on a whim - found a listing for the Mcferrin Avenue house on Craigslist. After seeing the house and realizing it had not sustained any flood damage, she felt it was a sign. She didn’t know exactly why just yet, but it was imperative for them to buy the house.
The Pharmacy and Mas Tacos were building their reputations. Julia and Dave watched as people were standing on the sidewalks waiting for their tables. They envisioned building a type of business that would fit into the vibe on Mcferrin Avenue. And maybe give another place for people to venture.
In what is essentially their backyard sat a carriage house and was in some disrepair. Julia wanted to tear it down. Dave asked her to wait; he had an idea, but he needed to think on it.
A year later, the realization was realized. And on a car trip from Iowa to South Carolina, while they brain-stormed potential names for their business, The Sweet Bean was born.
It only took three months, several hundred man hours, and a lot of faith to take their carriage house from dilapidated to darling. With a few minor fixes for wood that was too far gone to be salvaged, they reused nearly everything. They even found a couple of really interesting items and decided to put them on display.
On the shelf sits an old TN licence plate.
A Dick Tracy Comic
When you arrive at The Sweet Bean, it may take you a second to realize you are indeed at the right place. This is unlike any independent coffee shops you may have visited. First of all, there is no WiFi.
The vision of The Sweet Bean was to be more than an area of tables with people silently typing away at laptops. They want you to have an experience. Photos of the interior of this former carriage house do not do it justice. As you walk through the screen door, there is a shift. The world quiets. Strategically hung lights, both white and color, bring a feeling of calmness. You want to slow down. You want to take it all in. The decor has a rustic Americana, retro feel. Electronics are forgotten. No WiFi needed. Conversations are had.
Second, the concept of The Sweet Bean is purposely family-friendly. You can order a coffee or maybe a shaved ice. And if you’re feeling especially festive, you can make your own cotton candy.
A few instruments are hung on the wall and you are welcome to grab one and start playing. Or maybe you’re in the mood for a checker game. Or any of the other card and board games they have available for your use.
The coffee menu is simple, but the flavor of the coffee is phenomenal. For hot coffee, you’ll be asked the strength you prefer. Then, using the Aeropress method on a device Dave has built, your 100% Costa Rican coffee is made to order. They are currently using the second inception of their multi-cup brewing station. Dave and Julia call it “The Caveman” method. I call it genius. (Click the photos for more detail.)
The future for The Sweet Bean looks bright. Next year, Dave and Julia will have a new addition - Baby Carlson. Further, they look to keep growing their corner of Mcferrin Avenue with more opportunities for friends and neighbors to visit. Julia says she invisions lawn games and live music sessions. Both have the love of East Nashville and the desire to be a part of a tight-knit part of the community. Dave and Julia are as warm and charming as you would assume them to be. East Nashville is lucky to have these two people who’ve decided to make Mcferrin Avenue their forever home and brought us The Sweet Bean. They will be nothing short of successful.
All photos courtesy of Heather Clift except the first photo which was from www.thesweetbean.com