Crema Coffee, Rachel Lehman, Nashville, TN, Tennessee, Atlanta, GA, Georgia, San Francisco, CA, California, Baristas, Barista, Where to drink coffee, espresso, cappuccino, brewing equipment, hot to brew, brewing recommendations, coffee recommendations, Restaurants, Where to eat, Nashville, TN, Coffee Grinders, Brewing


Photographs courtesy of Crema

Q & A


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Nashville, TN





Downtown / Rutledge Hill


15 Hermitage Avenue

Nashville, TN 37204

T: 615.255.8311



Mon - Fri: 7am - 7pm 

Sat: 8:00am - 6pm

Sun: 9am - 4pm


Q & A with Crema’s Rachel Lehman

Q. What makes your coffee stand out?

A. I think for us it’s realizing that are so many people that have their hand in the final product; from the farmer to the processor, the importer to the roaster to the barista, to the customer. We realized that each of those people is a window of quality that gets smaller and smaller, so by the time you get to the customer, each step of the process has been handled carefully. We take the time to do the training and see what the trends are and what’s going on in quality coffee. If you take shortcuts or you don’t take the time for quality training, it’s going to fall flat on its face.

Q. How does science and math play into making a great cup of coffee?

A. We know that time, turbulence and temperature affect the taste of coffee, and so if you change one of those parameters, it’s going to the affect the taste. What we’re trying to do is we’re looking for a window of taste, of balance.

It used to be I would dial in my espresso and I would burn my pallet out trying to figure out the right taste of coffee for the day. We were using volume, we weren’t using exact, precise measurements. Now we’re using scales. It’s much less involved than it used to be and actually much simpler.


Advice & Tips | Coffee

Tastes | What To Look For In Coffee

We want to have a few things that are exciting to the palate, things that are a little bit further out there. We’re looking for a nice balance of sweetness and acidity.

Depending on the profile that the roasters are going for, especially with espressos, usually you want to start out with a good base. It can be a caramel sort of base or chocolately or nutty. Once you figure out what kind of coffee you want to be your base, you can take other coffees and season that base. We have to buy seasonally and so we’re looking for a coffee that’s going to stand up on its own, but also be a great base.

We have some coffees that are a little crazier. We have the Tanzania right now that’s got a lot of apricot and chocolate and a little out there. Some people love it and some people don’t and that’s ok. We have a great Kenya with curry notes, that’s a super high scoring coffee. It scored a 95 on the coffee review. We didn’t know that until after we purchased it. But, it’s very beefy and brothy and tomato soup like. It’s very savory. Some people don’t like savory coffee. But, with that coffee what’s really crazy is that one day it can taste like tomato soup and the next you can taste blackberry notes.

Drink | The Best Way To Drink Coffee

Here’s the thing about coffee, it’s come a long way in the past few years and the coffee that I grew up drinking, the coffee that you probably started out drinking, is not really great coffee. Coffee quality has changed a lot in the past few years. I would say in the last three years, we’ve had much better working relationships between us and the farms. If you’re going to a place that has really great specialty coffee, I would say first, try it black. It’s the ‘try it black challenge.’ And then if it’s not palatable to your taste then, I guess, add your things to it.

Dark roasting coffee was really invented because we had so many defects in coffee. And the thing that dark roasting coffee does is it actually flattens the flavors out. It takes away a lot of the complexity and sweetness, so it’s more bitter. When you taste a lighter roasted coffee it doesn’t necessarily mean it has less body, it just means that it’s probably going to be a little bit sweeter and balanced. When someone says ‘light roast’ that’s a good thing. It means that they’re showcasing the complexity and qualities of that coffee.



Coffee | Baristas

James Hoffman | World Barista Champion 2007

James Hoffman has been one of the great leaders in our industry and he’s totally not a snob, which I love that about him.

Nick Cho

Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters and host of the Portafilter Podcast. I follow him on twitter and I like that he is asking a lot of questions of the coffee community. He is pushing the coffee community more towards understanding the science instead of the art.


Bodum Burr Grinder | Kalita Ceramic | Yama Siphon

Coffee | Brewing

Burr Grinders

Baratza Grinder | Bodum Bistro Elecric Burr Coffee Grinder

I tell people invest in a grinder, before they invest in a brewer, before they invest in a scale, anything else. Because when you grind coffee it releases a lot of gas, which means it releases a lot of aromatics, so the longer it sits there, it’s losing more and more and more flavor.

Brew Methods

Yama Siphon Brewer

That brew method requires some attention to detail. We use it at our shop since it produces a really interesting cup of coffee. It’s not for everyday. We only use it in our slow bar. It can produce some amazing cups of coffee, as long as you have a very skilled barista.

Bunn Brewer

It’s supposed to reach the proper temperature to extract the coffee properly. If your temperature is too low, it under-extracts the coffee, which makes it really thin and bitter. People tend to overcompensate by adding more coffee, which makes it even more bitter. The hotter the temperature, it mixes with the oils and produces a better cup of coffee.


It’s a Japanese pour over. I like the ceramic one, it has better heat transfer. It has three holes in the bottom which allows for a more even extraction. It’s more forgiving to the home consumer who may not know a lot about pour over coffee.

[See details.]


Nashville Recs

City House Restaurant in Nashville, TN

Photograph courtesy of City House

Eat | Restaurants

Catbird Seat

I really love what the guys are doing over at Catbird Seat. It’s one of one fine dining places in Nashville, I can’t afford to go there every week, but I love what they’re doing. The have a bar with the kitchen in the middle, and the chefs are the servers. They explain every dish that you’re having. It’s a multi-course dinner with pairing. I love the dessert, cherry crisp with a smoked ice cream and droplets of bourbon balls in gel form. They’re little drops of Maker’s Mark that pop in your mouth.

City House

It’s by far one of my favorite restaurants. It’s a great, cozy place serving rustic Italian food. Chef Tandy uses all local fresh water fish, he makes many of his own cheeses for the pizzas. My favorite is the cauliflower pizza. The cauliflower is roasted and served with chili oil and really nice cheese. Just great texture and taste. I also love his chicken. It’s a half-chicken cooked in the wood fired oven. It has a nice crispy skin and is really juicy on the inside. He uses great quality chickens and great ingredients. It’s really simple, but really local.


It’s a Northern Indian place with a clay oven. All of the standard dishes are great. I really like the Malai Kofta (vegetarian patties cooked with cashew and tomato sauce) and the Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower with onion, tomato and spices).

[See details.]


Drink | Coffee

dose. [coffee & tea]

They have great coffee and I love that they bring in different roasters from outside of Nashville. It just gives us an idea to see what’s going on, what’s happening in coffee.

[See details.]

Atlanta Recs

Octane Coffee + Bar in Atlanta

Photographs courtesy of Octane Coffee + Bar

Drink | Coffee

Octane Coffee + Bar

It’s one of my favorite coffee places to go to when I’m in Atlanta. They have great awesome coffee, but they also have a great bar. It’s definitely a coffee shop, but they have great regional beers on tap. It’s nice to go for the afternoon and if someone wants beer, they have it.

[See details.]


San Francisco Recs

Coffee at Four Barrel in San Francisco

Photographs courtesy of Four Barrel

Drink | Coffee


It’s really tiny. It’s a combination of good coffee and good people. I have been to all the flashy places, but I appreciate when someone looks me in the eye and treats me like just an average joe. When I go into places, I don’t tell them I work in coffee.

Four Barrel

It’s just really cool inside with all this taxidermy on the wall. The guys in there are super friendly and super nice. They’re cash only and we were in there and only had twenty bucks. I wanted to buy two bags of coffee and espressos and they just gave it all to me for twenty bucks.

[See details.]


Details of Rachel Lehman’s recommendations on where to eat and drink in Nashville, Atlanta and San Francisco.

City Guides

- Atlanta: Download

- Nashville: Download

- San Francisco: Download