By RACHAEL LONG / Photos by Rachael Long
A young couple who once fell in love with coffee hopes Nolensville residents will soon fall in love with it, too.
New kids on the block
Erin and Bethany McAtee are busy preparing for the opening of their first coffee shop, E & B Coffee Roasters, which is located in Historic Nolensville.
The McAtees have been remodeling since May. Erin said they plan to be open by mid-to-late February, but no official opening date can be set until a health inspection is complete
For now, boxes, power tools and sawdust cover the newly-finished floors of the soon-to-be coffee spot, but the atmosphere the McAtees are building is already present.
Where it all began
The McAtee’s love affair for roasting, Erin said, starts with Bethany’s “failed gift attempt for him.”
She bought him a beer-brewing kit, thinking it would be something he could get into, but Erin said he didn’t have the time to devote to the lengthy process that is brewing. A year later, she tried again.
This time, it stuck.
The second time around, Bethany gifted Erin a set of three small, green coffee beans.
“We rigged up our little air popper and built a little cardboard box around the air popper to catch the chaff,” Erin said. “We loaded it up, and we roasted our first batch of coffee on our porch in an air popcorn popper.”
Erin, along with being a husband and father, calls himself a serial entrepreneur. It wasn’t long ago that he was working in a corporate technology job — a job he loved.
But his entrepreneurial spirit was restless, so Erin said he and his wife began goal-setting for a new business of their own.
The couple had to make a decision between two things Erin enjoyed: technology or coffee.
Anyone searching for the reason behind the McAtee’s business decision don’t have to do much digging. That reason lies in the form of three little humans: 5-year old Eva, 3-year old Claire, 3, and the family’s newest member, 6-month old Laina.
“Our dream changed and we started loving the idea of building a company that our kids could get plugged into as they got older,” Erin said.
A firm foundation
The coffee shop will be the couple’s first retail arm of an already established company, which until now, has been primarily about the roasting process.
Erin and Bethany began what can only be described as “hustling,” when they began roasting for wholesale accounts on the side of their full-time jobs. Erin said they learned as much as they could about roasting and invested heavily in all the best equipment.
But to really succeed, the couple knew it would take more. They began taking the coffee — and the family — to Farmers’ Markets across Middle Tennessee, setting up booths and getting to know the community. It was there that they built a following, especially in places like Nolensville, Brentwood and Smyrna.
The McAtees originally thought a wholesale roasting model alone would work for the company, but they realized quickly that what the business was missing was brick and mortar. A place to display the product they had meticulously created.
“It was a no-brainer to find a spot here and continue to build on the market we’d already built here,” Erin said.
And so began the journey that would lead them here, to a little shop off of Nolensville Road in the historic district of a fast-growing town.
The craft atmosphere
The shop will join a town with an existing coffee staple, Mama’s Java. Erin said, unlike Mama’s large food menu, E&B will focus primarily on craft coffee and will initially have a small selection of food and pastry items.
“We roast the best grade of coffee you can buy,” Erin said. “We give extraordinary care to the entire process, the roast to the packaging to the brewing…we control everything end to end, and we care about everything end to end.”
E&B will serve countless espresso drinks, cold brews, Nitro coffee and specialty drinks. Erin says they’ll even be developing a coffee soda.
It won’t have a drive-thru, Erin said. The atmosphere the McAtees hope to create is one that will invite guests to stay awhile.
Between industrial and rustic, the couple weren’t settled on just one interior design look. They wanted the place to have a more home-y feel than a fast-commercial coffee shop, and that’s part of the reason why they chose the historic district.
A few of the interior walls will be lined with bar-top style seating, places where people can work. There is also a patio, which will have perimeter and table seating. And while its just a dream for now, Erin said one day they might even add an upstairs lounge area.
In addition to craft coffee, E&B will have kegs of kombucha — a popular beverage made of fermented, sweetened black or green tea lauded for its health benefits. The kombucha will be outsourced from Franklin-based Herban Market.
A family affair
The McAtee daughters are now too young to spend all day at the coffee shop, but Erin said the shop is perfectly located for them to spend some time in the area — at the parks and on the walking trails — and still be able to stop by.
As the store finds its footing, Erin will be running its day-to-day operation, while Bethany will be focused primarily on leadership of the company. In other words, Erin said, there will be very few decisions for the company for which she’s not involved.
And those little ones? They’re off the hook, for now.
“Our oldest [daughter is] five now, so when she gets to be about eight or nine, I’m going to start giving her some little things to do,” Erin said with a laugh.
E&B Coffee Roasters is located at 7311-B Nolensville Road. The store’s official opening date is not yet scheduled, but the announcement will come via its Facebook page.