Inside Look: Barista Parlor

For Andy Mumma, founder of Nashville’s Barista Parlor, coffee and art are inseparable. “I’ve worked in specialty coffee since I was about 18, while additionally working with music and in the arts,” says Mumma. “My attention has always been in the sphere of creativity.”

Mumma found an outlet for that creativity with the opening of Barista Parlor’s first location in East Nashville in May of 2012, for which he also spearheaded the design. “I’ve always had a strong idea of what I wanted for my spaces. However, I can’t say that I ever really knew what I was doing. It took a great deal of trial and error to realize physically what I envisioned in my mind.”

To help, Mumma assembled a team of builders and artisans. Aaron Rosburg of AACraftsman built counters, cabinets and a giant wooden anchor. Custom lighting was created by Southern Lights Electric, custom furniture by Steric Design and Holler Design, a custom sound system by Hazelwood Laboratories, and custom signage by Sideshow Sign Co. “Everything has always been custom designed and built,” says Mumma. “Each [contributor] brings an enormous amount of individual talent and experience to the process of my build-outs. What we achieve collaboratively is nothing short of magic.”

This holds true for each of the Barista Parlor’s three locations. The original East Nashville café was built in an old transmission shop. Barista Parlor Golden Sound, opened in October of 2014, occupies a former recording studio of the same name and was designed in collaboration with Nick Dryden of DAAD. The newest spot, Barista Parlor Germantown, opened this past December and lives up to its predecessors. “Adaptive reuse is the theme of all three locations,” says Mumma. “I try not to change the footprint or what I feel are the most important details of each building.”

Further indulging his artistic inclinations, Mumma works with Bryce McCloud at Isle of Printing to create table markers and menus, as well as original art installations. The back wall of the East Nashville shop sports a mosaic ship crafted from 4,400 letter-pressed squares, and at Golden Sound, the “cloud wall” is comprised of 4,700 letter-pressed squares, folded like origami and hung on 18 separate back-lit panels. “I want people to be inspired to create when they hang out at the shops,” says Mumma. “The experience should be less a straight transaction and more of an immersive art and coffee experience.”

Of course, the experience is about coffee too. Mumma insisted on visible, open work spaces for baristas as they prepare drinks on siphon bars, Slayer espresso machines and Yama cold-brew towers. “Baristas are the heart of what we do,” says Mumma. “Not to mention the fact that what they’re doing is beautifully artistic, from the equipment they’re working with to the coffees and teas they’re producing.”