The Factory at Franklin’s food scene is undergoing what can only be described as a proverbial face-lift. From Franklin Juice Company and Thrive Cafe to the up-and-coming Mafiaoza’s Pizzeria, the historical complex is quickly becoming a hot spot for local culinary endeavors.
Honest Coffee Roasters is the latest to join the fold. The small shop, dressed sharply in copper, exposed brick and reclaimed wood, opened quietly back in April, but has already fostered a buzzing coffee culture. And community is everything to co-owners Brett Henry and Ryan Rogers—well, that and fantastic coffee.
“I love the culture coffee shops create. Every specialty shop wants excellence—no one is after just ‘okay,’” says Brett, who also co-owns the fresh Franklin Juice Company with Ryan. Brett’s journey into the world of coffee wasn’t an expected one; in fact, he didn’t care for coffee at all until after college. Ryan was the one to change that.
“I met Ryan in June of 2011, and he made me a cup of 100 percent Kona coffee. It really tasted like something, and I hadn’t had an experience like that before,” Brett remembers. Ryan, on the other hand, was raised on coffee, and his intense desire to grow the stuff led him to Kona, Hawaii, and a house situated conveniently on a lush micro lot. It was there that he learned how to grow, farm and process coffee.
As serendipitous as this chance sipping was, the pair unknowingly combined coffee-fueled destinies hundreds of years in the making. Brett’s great-great-grandfather, Zechariah Green, was one of the first coffee suppliers to Williamson County, and Ryan’s lineage stretches back to a South Scotland monastic community—the first to use coffee as a means of staying awake for night and day prayer.
The honor of heritage and history at Honest is tangible. A graphic of Honest Abe Lincoln is incorporated into the decor, and a state-of-the-art Probat P12 coffee roaster sits in full view. While the model itself isn’t vintage, Probat is the oldest coffee manufacturer in the world still in business. Yes, it’s undoubtedly a showpiece, but the Probat is a well-functioning and essential tool used to roast their beans in-house. Leading the charge on the roasting front is experienced roaster David Morris, and we have yet to see such impressive machinery elsewhere in Nashville.
The beans themselves are sourced from all over the world and carefully chosen from the owners’ reliable, out-of-country friends and contacts. Small, hard-to-reach farms are most attractive to the pair, and they highly value old-school techniques. Their long-term goal is to personally scout out farms and develop a specific crop together.
Menu options at Honest Coffee Roasters are wholly focused on the flavor of the beans, and drinks are prepared with precision by a highly skilled barista team. While waiting for your cup, there is a beautiful Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine and station for pour-over coffee preparation to marvel at. Although Honest is not equipped for full kitchen service, homemade pop tarts and Five Daughters Bakery (another soon-to-be Factory at Franklin resident) doughnuts are often available—but be warned, the goodies sell out fast when in stock.
We are suckers for Honest’s foamy cappuccinos, strong espresso and pretty lattes, but our favorite drink is undoubtedly their spring and summer special: Tunnel Vision. Inspired by Tim Wendelbow, a famed Scandinavian barista, and none other than Justin Timberlake, Tunnel Vision is a two-shot espresso drink shaken over ice, spiked with a homemade star anise syrup and topped with whole milk.
There is nothing weak, heavily sugared or average about what’s offered at Honest. The shop is determined to present coffee in, well, an honest way by respecting both the beans and their customers. And if you’re not a coffee drinker, we challenge you to an Honest cup all the more—like Brett, we foresee it causing a caffeinated conversion.
Honest Coffee Roasters is located in The Factory at Franklin at 230 Franklin Road. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. See more at honest.coffee and reach them at (615) 807-1726.