The Food Biz: Veteran coffee pro hopes to change East Side bean game

Andy Mumma to offer high-end roasts and boldly named Slayer Espresso machine

A Nashville coffee veteran is opening an ambitious new coffeehouse in East Nashville, focusing on craft roasts selected from across the country, brewed using a rare and impressive gadget: the Slayer Espresso machine, custom-built and hand-crafted in Seattle.

East Nashville resident Andy Mumma has a long resume working in the coffee business. A couple years ago he moved out to Phoenix, where he managed one of the top coffee bars in town and helped launch the company’s second location.

“That got me really excited to open my own place,” Mumma said, and he moved back to Nashville to do it. But as he tells it, the venture isn’t just about finding a niche and making a buck. Mumma has the fervor of a coffee craftsman and a true believer.

“I want to open people’s eyes that coffee doesn’t have to taste bitter and over-roasted,” he said. “There are flavors in there, and we want to showcase them.”

Mumma, with help from his wife Kimberly, plans to open Barista Parlor on Gallatin Road sometime in December. It’s taking over a former transmission shop at 519B Gallatin, not far from The Groove record shop and another eagerly awaited business poised to open in December, Porter Road Butcher.

In planning Barista Parlor, Mumma said he not only relied on his own experience but also scoured the best coffeehouses around the country, picking out his favorite aspects from each. He also used that approach when selecting coffee beans.

“Every roaster has a thousand different roasts, and we’ve handpicked the best one,” he said. He’s using multiple suppliers, including Intelligentsia Coffee out of Chicago and Stumptown Coffee Roasters, based in Portland, Ore.

As for the coffeehouse layout, Mumma said it will hearken to “an old-fashioned cocktail bar.” Baristas will work in the center of the room, and the customers, if they choose, will perch on stools circling the bar, watching their coffee being prepared and quizzing the experts on every aspect of the process. There will also be table seating.

“The key is you can definitely geek out all you want, but if you just want to come in for a delicious cup of coffee, we can do that,” Mumma said. “We don’t want it to be at all stuffy. It’s coffee for everybody."

No lukewarm urns allowed: All coffee will be prepared fresh by the cup. For regular coffee, methods include Chemex and a siphon pot. But when it comes to espresso, enter the Slayer.

Slayer Espresso machines are built by hand in Seattle by a coffee roaster and technician named Jason Prefontaine. There are only a couple dozen in the United States, and 120 in the world. (Mumma says New Orleans is the only other city in the South to have one.)

Although they are crafted to look simple, with elegant touches like Peruvian walnut levers, Mumma says the Slayer’s engineering gives the barista unparalleled control over pressure, temperature and timing. The price tag is pretty rich — around $20,000 — but Mumma says it’s worth it, because of the complex flavors the machine can extract.

“It really brings out the inherent sweetness of the coffee — body, acidity and sweetness — which normally you can’t do with an espresso machine,” Mumma said. There’s less bitterness, he said, because despite its tough-guy name, the Slayer “is gentler on the coffee.”

And speaking of exotic flavors, Mumma also plans to offer a selection of  30 to 40 different single-source chocolate bars from around the world.

To watch the coffeehouse’s progress (including the upcoming arrival and uncrating of the Slayer), check out Barista Parlor on Facebook and Twitter.

Tennessee Local Food Summit convenes

There’s still time to register for the Tennessee Local Food Summit, coming up Friday, Dec. 2, through Sunday, Dec. 4, at Lipscomb University. Presented by Long Hungry Creek Farm and Lipscomb’s Institute for Sustainable Practice, the summit proclaims itself a conference for “everyone who loves local foods — students, gardeners, consumers and farmers.”

Sessions follow three tracks: the science of organics, backyard gardening, and “Food: The Best Medicine.”

Admission is $100, which includes a Saturday night square dance and three meals cooked up with local ingredients. There are reduced-price ticket options for students and other groups.

Get more info at the Tennessee Local Food Summit page on Facebook, or contact Anne Nicholson, tnlocalfood@gmail.com, 426-3395.