The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Claire & Joe: Elegy Coffee

Elegy, an eccentric coffee shop in East Nashville, is alive and flourishing, despite its name and vibe.
Claire Gatlin
Elegy Coffee’s plant wall contrasts nicely with the dark, minimalist vibe of the rest of the shop. (Photo/Claire Gatlin) (Graphic/Emery Little)

Looking for your next great cup of joe? Claire’s got you covered, traveling all over the Nashville area to find only the finest coffee shops and bring you the tea—or in this case, the coffee. 

For years, “friends and fellow coffee fanatics” Alexa Bussmann and Hannah Haecker trekked all across Nashville to give Vanderbilt students the scoop on new and lesser-known coffee shops in the area. Following their lead (while in no way imposing on their legacy), I’ve picked up the column to review some of the most unique coffee shops across Nashville. First up? Elegy Coffee.

Crow Mural
Elegy’s crow mural is an instant indication of what the vibe is like inside. (Hustler Staff/Claire Gatlin)

I visited Elegy on a gray and rainy afternoon, which seemed fitting, and I parked out back and made my way up the alley between the coffee shop and Mickey’s Tavern. Dan + Shay drummer Andrew Cook, co-owner of Fox Bar & Cocktail Clubs, opened the East Nashville coffee shop about a year ago in the middle of the pandemic, as he was inspired by his own adventures looking for local coffee shops in the cities he visits on tour. The building is painted black with a massive mural of a crow in flight on the side—just the first indication of the coffee shop’s theme of death and mortality.

It didn’t take much beyond that for me to decide: Elegy Coffee is cool. It’s the place you take your artsy motorcycle-riding boyfriend to show him that you’re edgy and chic (but maybe don’t order a flavored latte if you’re trying to do that).

Inside, there are only a few chairs—meaning Elegy probably isn’t your next study spot—but the to-go window with a large menu printed on the side is perfect for those trying to grab and go quickly. Or, head inside to the artfully designed interior, where you’ll find a large printed menu with diagrams that display how much milk and espresso are in each beverage. It was especially helpful for someone like me, who isn’t yet a coffee connoisseur (but will be after my first few installments of this column).

There’s also a wall full of shelves of coffee beans, stickers and hats, as well as a fridge stocked with Topo Chico. The live plant wall creates some nice thematic juxtaposition with the dark, death-themed imagery and vibe. And the interior decorations are pretty and earthy, yet still minimalist—a great amount of thought clearly went into every design decision.

Tiramisu Latte
The Tiramisu Latte in front of an ivy wall at Elegy. (Hustler Staff/Claire Gatlin) (Claire Gatlin)

I selected a Tiramisu Latte, because I am a sucker for sweet drinks, and it seemed like the perfect thing to cheer me up on that dreary day. Likewise, the fact that Elegy doesn’t charge extra for alternative milks was a sweet surprise, and I chatted with the barista about how annoying it is that other coffee shops charge extra for a couple of ounces of milk. No fear here at Elegy for the lactose-intolerant or vegan—or simply those who prefer alternative milks.

In a few minutes, my coffee was ready. The first sip of my latte was foamy and delicious, and the drink was artistically made, with brown speckles of cocoa powder atop the foam. It was sweet, but not overpoweringly so, and it was smooth and bold, actually reminding me of delicious and creamy tiramisu.

My only complaint was the lack of seating—when I pay for coffee, I hope to pay for a study space for a few hours as well. But what was lost there was made up for in taste and experience.

Score: 4 out of 5 cups

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About the Contributor
Claire Gatlin
Claire Gatlin, Former Life Editor
Claire Gatlin ('24) is a student in Peabody College studying human and organizational development and political science. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading and rollerblading. You can reach her at [email protected].
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