It is a cool, brisk April morning (considering you live in Nashville, TN). You are running on four hours of sleep and are in desperate need of a pick-me-up before your 8 A.M. exam. On your way to class, you stumble upon a Nashville gem your friend told you about the week before. When you walk through the doors, you are greeted by the warm aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans and the sweet, subtle notes of milk and honey. The only thing warmer and sweeter than these scents are the smiles that line the counter in front of you. You are greeted with love. You are family.
Tucked away in a shopping center on the corner of 12th and Wedgewood avenues, one turn of the head could mean missing out on an essential part of Nashville coffee culture. In January of 2011, California natives, Bethany and Maile Newton, moved to Nashville, TN to start a café that would soon become a hit amongst many local coffee-goers, known as The Jam Coffeehouse.
The Jam’s mission statement reads:
“Our heart is to create an environment where all feel welcome. Our passion is to see people healthy. Our vision is to inspire a ‘whole-listic’ lifestyle. The Jam is where the love is.”
Newton mentioned that while living in California, she and her sister had worked in various coffee shops with the hopes of opening their own one day. They are very passionate about inspiring others and also love creating many delicious food and beverage items. The Jam was a way for them to combine their passions while serving a vibrant, diverse community. According to Newton, the idea for the name, The Jam, came about quite organically.
“We were inspired one day at a restaurant that we didn’t enjoy very much. We said, ‘This is not my jam!’ In that moment, we decided to create something delicious and call it The Jam!”
Although there are many coffee shops to choose from in the Nashville area, The Jam has taken many steps to set itself apart. The Jam is dedicated to using farm fresh, organic ingredients in order to support local farms around Nashville and promote a healthy lifestyle for its customers. According to Newton, they specifically support Willow Farms, Johnson’s Honey, and JD Country Milk. Additionally, all of The Jam’s syrups are made in-house with unrefined sweeteners and their milk products are non-homogenized.
With its extensive menu and bountiful drink options, The Jam is sure to have something for everyone. They serve everything from foamy, honey-infused lattes to green smoothies prepared with coconut oil and avocados. They also offer a few breakfast and lunch items, such as the Good Morning Tacos and the Mama Mia Sandwich. In addition to the fresh food and energizing coffee beverages, Newton claims the tea lattes have also become a fan favorite amongst many of The Jam’s regulars.
Kate Wurm, a junior at Belmont University and past employee of The Jam, says that one of her favorite drinks to order is the Aztec Warrior, a chili Pu-erh tea infused with cinnamon and cocoa, prepared with organic coconut sugar and non-homogenized milk.
“If I were to get an iced [beverage], it would be a dirty Aztec Warrior. It is a tea latte but if you get it dirty, you also get a shot of espresso. It is so good but also so beautiful! Before it is mixed, it is three different layers of tea, coffee and milk, and I take a picture of it every time!”
At The Jam, Wurm worked as a cook and was constantly impressed by how well each recipe was crafted and designed to achieve maximum flavor.
“It’s really cool to see how intentional the recipes are and how much thought went into them, down to even the smallest detail. Even though [they] only have a couple breakfast items, the ones that they do have, they are proud to make.”
While wholesome, locally-derived ingredients may draw many new customers to The Jam, one of its major selling points is the atmosphere. The Jam utilizes a simple but elegant 1950s diner aesthetic with plenty of seating to work on homework or socialize with friends. Soft music can be heard in the background while customers are called by name to receive their drinks at the counter. The Jam employees make it a point to treat customers like family which has helped them retain many regulars. Wurm recalls how the employees’ positive interactions with customers inspired her to apply and become part of “The Jam fam.”
“I had worked previously at a lot of cafes and food places and the atmospheres were really tense and I always went home feeling defeated because I never felt appreciated. [At The Jam], they’re very accepting and really good at making their customers feel important no matter what they look like or what they’re ordering.”
Wurm described the working environment at The Jam as very family-oriented. Whenever she entered the building, she was always greeted with enthusiasm and love.
“I love the people that I [worked] with. My favorite thing [was] walking in in the morning, Violet coming over, opening the door for me, and giving me a big hug. We always had music blasting in the morning while we were prepping [for the day].”
Wurm said it [was] not uncommon to stay for an hour or more after getting off work to talk to her coworkers and bosses. One of her favorite parts about working at The Jam was getting to work for individuals who were truly invested in their employees.
“[One day] I stayed for about an hour and a half after my shift just to talk to Maile and it was cool because I’ve never really had a relationship like that with a boss where they genuinely cared about what I was doing in school. You can tell in the way that they treat their employees and their customers that it’s all rooted in wanting to love people.”
The Jam serves many different groups of people but its close proximity to universities such as Vanderbilt and Belmont have made it a hit amongst college students. Many students go to The Jam with friends but are bound to see others they know there as well. Tiffany Cokkinias, a junior at Belmont and a regular at The Jam, says that her sister, Tessa, was the reason she discovered it.
“The first time I ever went [to The Jam] was with Tessa. I think the reason I like it so much is because I associate it with my sister.”
Cokkinias says her favorite drink to order is the Café San Fran because of its flavor, but also because of the sentimental value that comes with it.
“The first time I went [to The Jam], I tried the Café San Fran. Tessa took a picture of me tearing up because it was so good. I’ve tried several different [drinks] but I always come back to the Café San Fran every time. I think it’s partially a sentimental thing because it was the first time I had been in this place and it was with my sister. Also, you can’t really go wrong with hazelnut Nutella!”
The Jam has only one location, but Newton hopes that they will be able to begin franchising in as little as five years. Wherever The Jam ends up, however, they are sure to reach the hearts of the customers they serve. To customers like Cokkinias, The Jam will always be a place to call home.
“I feel like I have belonging when I’m there. It is like home to me whenever I go. Whether that’s because I meet new people or share a cup of coffee with someone or think of the first time I went with my sister and how much she means to me, I want to share it with others and make them feel like it is home for them, too.”