(Photo by Emily Goncalves)
(Photo by Emily Goncalves)

Coffee Shop Bracket: Off-Campus Edition

The best off-campus coffee shops to find the caffeine that’ll fuel your next midterm study session.

The autumn vibe we’ve all been searching for seems finally to match the temperature outside– I’m talking sweater weather, falling leaves and, my personal favorite, hot beverages. However, with so many coffee shops close to campus, finding that perfect warm fall drink can be easier said than done. As a self-proclaimed coffee shop connoisseur, I have compiled an off-campus version of the Hustler’s coffee bracket to break down the best coffee shop options for your lazy Sundays. I’ve dwindled it down to four nearby cafes: Fido, Revelator Coffee, Three Brothers and Starbucks.

(Graphic by Emily Gonçalves)

Ratings will be based off of the quality of the coffee and the general ambiance for studying (noise level, vibe and food options).  



Fido: As such a popular weekend brunch destination, Fido can be incredibly noisy and less-than-ideal for studying, especially at peak hours. However, they have a vast selection of yummy food options (my favorite is the Village Scramble) and rumor has it that Fido was the very location where Taylor Swift wrote some of her greatest hits. Maybe this talent can rub off on your English paper? When I visited, I got a hot black coffee. This proved not to be the best choice, as I found it overwhelmingly bitter and strong, The restaurant also has many popular espresso offerings; their seasonal Spicy Pumpkin Latte, heavy on the whipped cream, is a crowd favorite. 

Fido’s delicious treats, all baked in-store unless labeled otherwise (Photo by Christine Moser).

Revelator Coffee: Offering only a limited breakfast menu and pastry assortment, Revelator lacks the vast variety of options that Fido has to offer. This coffee shop gives off more of a traditional, sleek vibe. As it is a generally much quieter study space than Fido, Revelator is a better option if you have a lot of work to complete. Revelator’s black coffee didn’t disappoint, and was a high quality, strong drink. However, Revelator does not offer the fun, seasonal options that most other cafes serve.

Revelator’s black coffee, which I preferred to Fido’s (Photo by Christine Moser).



Although noisier at peak hours, Fido is the clear winner among the Hillsboro coffee shops. With varied, high-quality food options and a local, Nashville vibe, Fido stands out compared to most coffee shops in the area, including Revelator. 



Three Brothers: A short walking distance from Branscomb and Towers, Three Brothers is a convenient coffee shop option for students living in the West End dorms. Although they have a wide array of coffee options, they are limited in food offerings, serving only bagels, pastries and a couple of other breakfast items. When I visited Three Brothers on a Sunday, they had run out of many of their food options by 12 p.m. Three Brothers offers a quiet study space and a unique, local coffee shop vibe, making it a good quality option. Their coffee was very strong and had a distinct woody taste, which I didn’t love. 

Three Brother’s cultivates a rustic vibe, which is matched by their woody coffee (Photo by Christine Moser).

Starbucks: Although they do have a vast array of food options, including breakfast sandwiches, pastries and snacks, their food lacks that home-cooked feel that most local coffee shops offer. The Starbucks location on West End is a lot smaller than the Starbucks on 21st Avenue, making it super crowded and difficult to find seating during peak hours. The quality of coffee at Starbucks is always impressive, especially considering that it is a chain. It isn’t too overpowering but doesn’t taste watery or cheap, either. However, because Starbucks is a chain, it lacks the unique feel of other local coffee shop options in Nashville. 



Despite their limited food options and sometimes overpowering coffee, Three Brothers has a unique, local atmosphere that Starbucks just can’t beat. With large couches and a lot of seating, Three Brothers is a cozy study space that doesn’t have the overwhelming, city feel that Starbucks can cultivate on Saturdays and Sundays.

Three Brothers Coffee beat out Starbucks because of its irresistible charm and local feel (Photo by Christine Moser).



Although their line may be painstakingly long on a Sunday morning, Fido is well worth the wait, winning it the top spot in this bracket. With their vast, updated menu and a yummy pastry counter, it is impossible to go hungry while studying. Although their black coffee is too strong, their extensive seasonal coffee options more than make up for it, providing a good pick-me-up for when you’re cramming for finals. Additionally, Fido is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, so you could literally spend your entire day uninterrupted there. Even Taylor Swift gave it her stamp of approval! In the heart of Hillsboro, Fido has become known as a classic Nashville establishment, setting it apart from all other coffee shops on this list. 

(Graphic by Emily Gonçalves)


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About the Contributor
Christine Moser, Former Staff Writer
Christine Moser ('22) double majored in medicine, health and society and human and organizational development in Peabody College.
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Carrie McCormick
4 years ago

Dear Christine,

Well done! I completely agree with you: Fido is a gem. Out-of-town guests always love it, especially when we get there early and don’t have to wait in a long line.

Stay caffeinated,
Carrie McCormick
OGSM ‘91
VU Parent