Bongo Javas cozy, wood-laden exterior. (Photo by Hannah Haecker)
Bongo Java’s cozy, wood-laden exterior. (Photo by Hannah Haecker)

Hannah, Alexa and Joe: Bongo Java review

A potential rival for Fido

Everyone knows that Vanderbilt students love Fido— but you might not have heard of Bongo Java, Fido’s sister store.


Friends and fellow coffee fanatics Hannah and Alexa review Nashville’s new and lesser-known coffee shops in their column “Hannah, Alexa and Joe.” Alexa writes, and Hannah is behind the camera. Check back each Tuesday to find your new favorite cup of joe!


Right across from Belmont University, Bongo Java is to Belmont as Fido is to Vanderbilt: a popular coffee shop frequented by students. The similarities don’t stop there–both Bongo Java and Fido are part of the Bongo Java family of coffee shops and cafes. 


Bongo Java’s extensive interior makes it easy to sit down and have a coffee with friends. (Photo by Hannah Haecker)


However, there is one big difference between Bongo Java and Fido. While Vanderbilt students often go to Fido to get food and work on homework, almost no one at Bongo Java was doing work, or even had a computer out. In a room with about twenty people in it, only one person besides us was working on their laptop– other customers were just sitting and talking with whoever they had come with. 


If the name Bongo Java sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve had their coffee before– Grins Vegetarian Cafe is also owned by Bongo Java.


Creative touches are littered throughout the interior of the cafe. (Photo by Hannah Haecker)


Hannah’s Order: Latte

I am fairly familiar with the taste of Bongo coffee. Today I decided to go with a classic latte, but in this case the familiarity ended there. My drink had a slightly burnt taste that lingered in my mouth, which I didn’t expect from a Bongo espresso drink. I’m fairly sure this was just a fluke, but considering the taste, my score is probably lower than it would’ve been had the drink not been so poorly made.


Score: 2.5 out of 5 cups


Alexa’s Order: Drip Coffee

I ordered a standard drip coffee and was pleasantly surprised by its flavor. I drink the drip coffee at Grins at least twice a week, but I liked the brew at Bongo Java much more. It had much richer flavors and I didn’t feel like I needed to add cream or milk to make it palatable.


Score: 4 out of 5 cups


The more chatty atmosphere of Bongo Java, compared to most of the other coffee shops that we’ve been to, meant that it was a little noisy. However, I wouldn’t say that this was a deterrent, rather, it added to the coziness of Bongo Java.


The decorations at Bongo Java also added to the cafe’s warm vibe. We visited right before Halloween, and the shop was decked out with fake cobwebs and little bat cutouts on the walls. 


On the level above Bongo Java is the Bongo After Hours Theatre, a venue that frequently hosts improv comedy shows. 


Bongo Java’s After-Hours Theatre is just up the stairs in the back of the coffee shop. (Photo by Hannah Haecker)


Bongo Java has all the staples of a neighborhood coffee shop: great coffee, friendly baristas and a cozy atmosphere. We recommend stopping by after class this week and getting their After School Special: $4 for a small coffee or hot chocolate and any cookie or muffin. We even challenge you to test out the day spending time with friends and not bring your computer with you!

Bongo Java maintains their darker-toned theme through their outdoor sign. (Photo by Hannah Haecker)


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About the Contributor
Alexa Bussmann, Former Content Development Director
Alexa Bussmann is from Minnetonka, Minnesota. She majored in political science, economics and Spanish. Alexa previously served as Content Development Director and has written for The Hustler since her freshman year. She wrote the "Hannah, Alexa and Joe" and "New Music Fridays" columns. In her free time, Alexa enjoys trying new coffee shops in Nashville and following U.S. politics.
Reach Alexa at: [email protected]
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