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!
After numerous recommendations, we finally visited Ugly Mugs coffee shop in East Nashville. With high expectations, we decided to check it out on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Ugly Mugs was bustling with customers, and we joined the line which had formed next to a shelf of merchandise. Surprised that none of the customers were drinking their coffee from ugly mugs, we realized that the only ‘ugly mugs’ in the entire shop were a few artsy-looking ceramic mugs on the merchandise shelf.
Despite this initial letdown, we loved the atmosphere of Ugly Mugs. It was sleek yet cozy, boasting a gray interior complemented with whites and a cement ceiling. It definitely had more of a modern Gulch vibe than the eclectic East Nashville vibe we expected, but the sunshine made it feel warm and cozy nonetheless.
Hannah’s Order: Lavender Latte and Classic Bagel Sandwich
I decided to go with the Lavender latte specifically to try the homemade syrup, which was unique compared to the other name-brand syrups offered. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of sugary aftertaste that usually comes with specialty flavoring. It had a really good floral flavor, and while I think there could’ve been less syrup in the drink overall, the taste of the lavender itself was spot-on. I would order this drink again, and just ask for half the volume of syrup.
When I ordered my sandwich, they were out of most bagel flavors that I wanted, so I had to settle for plain. Regardless, this bagel sandwich hit the spot. I could tell it was made fresh and I felt that I got my money’s worth of food. It was no Proper Bagel, but definitely better than something I would’ve made at home.
Score: 3.5 cups
Alexa’s Order: Golden Milk Chai Latte with a shot of espresso
This latte is one of Ugly Mugs’ specialty fall drinks. It was full of chai and espresso favors without being too overwhelming. I’ve really loved a good chai latte lately, but I definitely needed the shot of espresso to get me through a weekend of studying. This drink was the perfect balance of flavor and caffeine– I only wished that I had gotten a larger drink for the almost $6 I paid.
Score: 4 out of 5 cups
After putting in our orders, we were able to find a spot fairly quickly despite how busy it was. A unique feature of Ugly Mugs is their table-sharing system. If you go to Ugly Mugs alone and want to sit at a table with multiple spots, you can put a small sign on your table to let other customers know that they can sit at your table with you. This is a great system that helped us secure a table for two.
Ugly Mugs is in a great location– with Five Daughters next door and Rosepepper Cantina across the street, you could easily spend a day in this area.
While Ugly Mugs didn’t live up to its name, we really enjoyed its atmosphere and location. East Nashville isn’t particularly accessible to Vanderbilt students, but it’s worth it to drive with a few friends or take an Uber to check out Ugly Mugs.