Hannah, Alexa and Joe: Cafe Ma’kai review

This coffee shop is bright and spacious

September 25, 2019

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!


Ma’kai’s furniture enhanced the beach-y vibe of the cafe. (Photo by Hannah Haecker)

Cafe Ma’kai is easy to miss – located in a small strip mall off of Wedgewood Avenue, it’s exterior blends in
with the fitness stores and other small businesses in the area. 

But inside, it is like stepping into a different, sunnier world. The interior is mostly white, and when we went, it was illuminated by the afternoon sun. Each table has a small plant on it, all of which are for sale if you’re willing to pay upwards of ten dollars of a tiny succulent.


Hannah’s order: Iced Americano

I wasn’t quite sure what to order, but I was inspired by the barista’s impassioned speech about how an iced Americano would have bursts of fruity flavors with the espresso as opposed to the more drawn out flavors of drip coffees. I liked the explanation, and I did notice some fruitiness in the drink, but overall I thought it lacked in taste and in my opinion was just an average drink. The passion and explanation of the coffee, however, was a 5/5.

Score: 2.5 out of 5 cups

Both the Americano and the iced coffee were good, but nothing special. (Photo by Hannah Haecker)

Alexa’s order: Iced coffee

I wanted to try Cafe Ma’kai’s cold brew, but the barista said that they weren’t quite ready to start serving it, so I went with a regular iced coffee instead. I added milk (or rather, one of the baristas asked if I wanted milk and proceeded to add it for me), so I couldn’t taste much of the coffee’s flavor. From what I could taste, it wasn’t too bitter, but it also wasn’t anything special. 

Score: 3 out of 5 cups


Windows lined the walls of the cafe. (Photo by Hannah Haecker)

Cafe Ma’kai recently reopened from what was previously The Jam Coffee House. The remodel and rebrand were so recent that Google still describes it as a “coffee shop with a 1950s vibe featuring carefully sourced java & tea, plus sandwiches & pastries.” That was The Jam – Cafe Ma’kai has a completely different and decidedly more modern vibe. 

Succulents like these were being sold for around $10. (Photo by Hannah Haecker)


Cafe Ma’kai’s website focuses on its healthy food offerings, which was an emphasis that we didn’t pick up on when we visited. However, the cafe boasts a long menu, and I would love to try one of their dishes sometime.

The obvious comparison to Cafe Ma’kai is Coffee and Coconuts, a coffee shop that we reviewed earlier this semester. Cafe Ma’kai does the tropical theme much better than Coffee and Coconuts— the ocean and tropical details are more subdued and comfortable. However, one has to wonder how natural the bright whites and straw details will feel in January.

We would definitely come back to Cafe Ma’kai for a longer study session. Its bright interior and abundant seating make it the perfect spot for a Sunday afternoon of studying.


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