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Coffee is so often a beverage on the move. We stop into a cafe to grab a quick cup to-go to drink on the way to whatever our next stop is or to be consumed habitually while focusing on some other task. For as much as we love it, coffee rarely is the thing unto itself. But a new cafe in Nashville offers not so much a chance to slow down and appreciate a nice cup of coffee, but a mandate.

Now And Then is a Sprudgie Finalist for Best New Cafe by industry and competition veterans Demi Chaco and Davy Ball, and it focuses on the softer moments to enjoy a thoughtful cup of coffee. The 12-seat coffee bar is the analog in a digital world, describing itself as “experience-oriented.” Curated vinyl, no WiFi, no to-go or standing room, and a selection of experimental and high-scoring coffees from some of the best Scandinavian-style roasters in the world. It’s a moment free of distraction, allowing the coffee to be the star. Thoughtfully appointed, it’s easy to see how Now And Then could become a destination coffee shop.

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Sprudge Maps is presented by La Marzocco and Pacific Barista Series

As told to Sprudge by Demi Chacon.

Introduce yourself to our readers—tell us about your cafe!

We are Now And Then, an elevated 12-seat coffee and tea Hi-Fi listening bar in Nashville, TN. We’re unlike other cafes in that we are sit-down table service only and we are experience-oriented, similar to a high-end wine bar or a fine dining restaurant. We guide the guests through the menu and help to find a coffee or a tea that the guest would enjoy or if they’re looking for something new and unique we’ll point them in that direction too! Education is one of our number one priorities. We’ve created an environment where conversations about coffee are encouraged and folks always leave having learned something new.

Now And Then is owned and operated by me and my partner, Davy Ball. I have extensive experience in the competition world of coffee and have been working in coffee for over nine years. Davy is going on 12 years in coffee. Between the two of us, we’ve worked nearly every role one can in the coffee industry. Davy used to be a touring musician and has gotten the chance to travel all over the world. This has played a part in some of the inspiration behind some of the things we do. We’re both stage manage for the SCA comps. I stage manage for Brewers, which I competed in a few years ago. Davy stage manages for CIGS. We’re also both on the committees of our comps. Our experiences with competition have also played a part in the inspiration behind what we do with Now And Then.

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Demi Chacon and Davy Ball

What equipment do you use in your shop?

Our main pieces of equipment are the infamous La Marzocco GS3 MP, two Weber Workshops EG-1s (one with ULF Burrs and the other with the Core), and lastly Weber Workshops Unifilters and Unibaskets.

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We use the new NextLevel Pulsar brewer for pour-overs. We also have all custom wares that we designed for our tea service.

Which roaster or roasters do you serve?

We swap out our offerings every quarter and we typically work with 3-4 roasters at a time. We focus on light roasted/Nordic roast coffee exclusively. So far since opening this space we’ve worked with Hex, Nomad, and Tim Wendleboe. We’re currently offering Sey, Prodigal, and Apollons Gold.

Our approach to picking coffees is just choosing the ones that we think will get folks really excited about coffee. We choose coffees that’ll pique folks’ interest as we pride ourselves on being a place for folks to explore and learn about coffee. We offer a lot of “high-scoring” and competition-grade coffees. One of our goals is to make these inherently inaccessible coffees accessible to folks.

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What is the neighborhood like where you’re located? What’s some other cool stuff nearby?

We’re located currently in downtown Nashville. The Frist Art Museum is right across the street from us. They’re constantly rotating their exhibits and it’s a lot of fun. We highly recommend folks check it out. There isn’t much else walking distance but we are technically very close to the infamous Broadway that people love about Nashville. While we, like most Nashville locals, don’t personally partake in that, a lot of folks do have a pretty good time in that part of town. About 8 to 10 minutes away is East Nashville and that’s where we spend most of our time. East has got the best restaurants in town, hands down. Definitely check out Joyland, Dinos, Grimey’s, and Mitchell’s Deli!

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What’s something cool or unique about your cafe you want folks to know?

We have about 5000+ records in our space, a lot of them being rare or limited. We play all kinds of music throughout the service depending on the vibe of the day. Mostly jazz, Japanese psych-rock, ambient music, Radiohead or sometimes just our friends’ records that we love!

I personally think the most stand out quality about Now And Then is the service style. We’ve taken a lot of inspiration from fine dining restaurants for that. The drink preparation and service style are both very hands on. When guests come in, there’s no rushing. Now And Then is a place to slow down and be intentional for a moment. In efforts to promote that idea even further, we don’t have wifi, or allow laptops/tablets. We also do not offer anything to go at all either. This slowing down allows us to be more hands on with the preparation of beverages. It also allows for more conversations about coffee to take place. I like to joke that if you go to Now And Then, you’re going to learn something new whether you were planning on it or not.

We are only 12 seats in the space so we operate on a first come, first serve basis. We don’t allow parties larger than four and if a guest were to come in, and all the seats are taken, we simply add them to a wait list and call them over when a seat becomes available.

Davy and I have genuinely thought about every single thing when it comes to coffee service—from the ambiance to the color of the mugs to the table mats to the music, no detail is spared at Now And Then. Essentially, we’ve taken the traditional cafe model and questioned every single aspect of it.

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Another interesting thing is that our menu is very black coffee forward. While Davy and I are both firm believers that coffee tastes best however you enjoy it, the menu at Now And Then is primarily black coffee, prepared in a handful of different ways, as well as high end teas. We’re bringing in excellent coffees/teas and have created an environment where we have the time it takes to prepare these coffees well/give these beverages the care and attention they require.

Our menu is pretty simple. We offer coffee in six different ways, only one milk beverage option, a signature beverage, and tea. We usually offer about 8-10 different coffees at one time. This plus our tea list leads to us actually having 40+ different beverage options!

Is there a community organization or charity you’d like to shout-out as part of this feature?

We love the work of our friends at Current Initiatives, they have multiple programs that help people in need all over! We’ve worked with them in the past, when we were just a pop up in Florida, and have hopes to continue to work with them in the future as well.

Thank you!

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Want your cafe featured in a Sprudge Maps Spotlight? Register your shop for Sprudge Maps, our user-driven compendium of coffee shops around the globe. It’s completely free. Sign up today!

Sprudge Maps is presented by La Marzocco and Pacific Barista Series

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Photos by Now and Then, used with permission