Amid the yoga studios, bars, and other class establishments of south 12th Avenue in downtown Nashville, Frothy Monkey is the local coffee establishment. Though the little house hidden from street view with some very strategic plants which make the interior feel hundreds of miles from a major city’s downtown area, it’s hard to miss because of…are those monkey bars out front? Are people supposed to climb on them?
Huh. Monkeys seem to be a theme in the décor, on the walls and in the menu. I’m sure there’s an interesting story for it on the website.
Well, no surprise there that the main signature drink is called the Monkey Mocha, which is sort of a chocolately iced coffee. It comes hot or cold, though with the latter the chocolate doesn’t blend with the rest of the drink very well. Regardless, the drinks are good. Most of the coffee options are either local brands, or fair trade organic, or probably both. Most of the food items are from local bakers with a strong theme of organic baked goods. Certainly this place knows its audience. It’s deeply rooted in the localvore movement. Though the prices on these items are definitely on the high side, you know what you’re getting into when you buy local. Besides, it all tastes pretty good.
I don’t mean to say this as though it’s a criticism. It’s just that in a city as big as Nashville, there may be some people who don’t like this kind of a place. If it is your scene though, you’ll unmistakably be happy here. Frothy Monkey imports beans from Africa, Asia and Latin America and roasts them through MST Coffee Roasters, also in downtown Nashville. You can purchase such colorful coffees as Guatemalan Huehuetenango Coffee, which has a complex wine-like quality, and Ethiopian Harrar Coffee, which has a fruit-and-spice taste and floral aroma.
The restaurant is kind of dark and cave-like, there are a lot of tables crowded together, a claustrophobic attic space-turned loft, but plenty of outdoor seating and a large patio. Real estate is at a premium to be sure, but the locals don’t mind the lack of space at all; in fact the café is quite full of people. All told, there’s a certain type who would absolutely love this place, and a certain type who would hate it. In a city as diverse as Nashville, though, it’s a welcome adventure to me.
- Frothy Monkey is definitely a specialized local food place, and most everything on the menu is organic or locally sourced, and is priced as such. It’s definitely a niche, but it may not be for everyone.
- You might also consider taking things to go instead of sticking around for a long time, as there isn’t a lot of room for you (or your group) to stretch out, particularly if the weather is bad and the patio is closed.
- If this sounds good to you, get some of the coffee. Frothy Monkey roasts and sells its own, and it is good.