CREMA Through the Years

Ten years can fly by in the blink of an eye without any seemingly massive changes and shifts...or, as seems to be the case for us, each year can hold something new - a change in scenery, customers, staff. For those who are newer in joining us for a cup of coffee and a view of the city, they would think we are as we always were. However, for those who have journeyed with us from the beginning, they could regale you with tales of the changes over the years - the transition to roasting our own beans, the build-out from one room to two, the knocking down of "the wall," the new deck...the list goes on. Employees who once worked a shift all alone, kept company by crossword puzzles during slow times, are now used to working a shift with up to 5 teammates at any given moment.

While there hasn’t been a year where something hasn’t changed since we opened, the internal goal or underlying ethos since we started has remained the same - every year try to do something better. Try to do something new. Always be improving. Always be learning. We want to inspire people to be better and do whatever it is that makes them happy. But nothing means as much when we just talk about ourselves - it's the words of those who have witnessed "CREMA Through The Years" and stuck with us that really matter and speak the most. So we asked a few of those folks to take the mic and share a bit with us and you about what CREMA has meant to them.

I have given CREMA over 5 years of my life but let’s be honest, it’s given back to me so much more. CREMA has become synonymous with both family and home. I can confidently say that I would not know Luke (my husband) or some of my closest friends without the humble little shop on Hermitage Ave. CREMA attracts good people because Rachel and Ben are good people. They care so deeply about each of their staff members and the community. They provide an amazing and positive work environment which spills out to the customers. When I was considering grad school, Rachel was one of the first people I mentioned it to and has been so supportive from day one (Ben and the rest of the staff too, obvs). CREMA was a significant support system for both Luke and I through his 2 weeks in the ICU. CREMA has provided me with more laughs and jokes than I can count. If my only audience was CREMA, I may be able to make it as a stand-up comedian (or at least part of a really great CREMA-only improv group...)

CREMA is family. CREMA is home.
— Jess Lancaster - employee of 5+ years
The first time I walked into CREMA was for my first date...ever. Lucky CREMA, right? It was tiny and lovely and friendly and made me want to come back again and I did.

Nine years later I’ve given over four years of my life to working for this no longer tiny, but still lovely and friendly place.

Four years of my best dance moves. Four years of my best dad jokes. (For the record, the “running man” works well within the spacial confines behind the bar).

Some seasons I worked what felt like 2,000 hours a week and some I lived in New Jersey Monday to Friday, but flew back to Nashville for the weekends so I could just keep my job.

Some days I couldn’t get over how much CREMA felt like the less-boozy version of Cheers with the most amazing regulars.

Sometimes I walked out onto the floor without realizing my skirt was tucked into my tights...those were the best times, well actually it was just the one time. But that one time was more than enough.

The constant has always been that we do something I am so proud of. That we work for people who care...about EVERYTHING. Especially their employees.

CREMA existed before I worked here and it will probably continue to do so once I’m gone, but it has and will always be the best in my mind. It has changed Nashville for the better and it’s changed me for the better.
— Courtney Gott, employee of 4+ years
I have long called Crema my “Cheers” for obvious reasons; you really do want to be where everyone knows your name, your drink order and accepts you as you come. That’s what Ben and Rachel somehow have managed to consistently do throughout the 10 years they have been open. Not only is it legitimately the best coffee in town, but this couple created a space that when you are there you FEEL great. Maybe it’s because they make you feel loved and seen, but for whatever reasoning it is, the owners and their staff over the years have always been able to bring so much more to the building other than espresso. Crema was the first place I brought our sons, Ari and Avi, two weeks after they were born. And as the boys have grown over the past 4 years, Mark, Nick, Lauren and the crew have also had the privilege, if you’ll call it that, of watching them throw all the tantrums on the floor if they didn’t get their blueberry muffin fast enough. Who else really would let you come in to order your coffee and then tell you to go to the car, because they can see you are stressed with toddlers and they bring it out to you?! Before their remodel we had family photos taken here just for memory’s sake of all that has happened in our lives. It’s the place I have had countless connecting conversations with people I do life with or I randomly met in line that day. It has been a place I have always made time for (our receipts and bills will prove it) because I have seen that my time is important to them. For a stay at home mommy, there’s no better way to start your day than on that foot; It has always set a good precedent for the start of my day when visiting there and I am grateful for what it does internally for me a lot of the time more than what it does to the ole taste buds. So, thank you Crema, for always being a place the Timen family can come whether together or not to celebrate life, even if in the smallest of ways!

— Linsey Timen, longtime customer

I was working at a Starbucks in 2007 when a friend told me somebody was building something new. “It’s like a coffee shop, but without all the syrups.” True, 10 years ago, the places I was getting my coffee took more pride in the size of their to go cups and the number of pumped-in flavors on the menu than in the beans they were serving.

But from the get-go, I saw Crema was about the coffee. On my first visit, I understood that more than anybody I’d met in Nashville, Rachel cared what was going into those cups. She knew where it came from and why she’d chosen it for the menu. She was passsionate about getting it right. And her customers were benefitting from her passion.

About a year later, I got hired. Pretty quickly I understood that I was wrong. Crema wasn’t just about the coffee, they were about the people too. They took care of their staff. They payed attention to their customers. They strove to be a positive force in their community. They bought their coffee in a way that would most benefit the people who grew it.

Coffee shops in Nashville have changed a lot over the past 10 years. I think what Rachel and Ben have built has had an enormous influence on that. Not just because of their passion to deepen the quality of the coffee they serve. But because they always wanted to serve it in a way that welcomes people in. They haven’t chased trends or tried to take over the town. They’ve just continued to fill up the best cups in Nashville while taking care of the people that come into their shop.

I’ve worked at Crema for most of a decade because the people at Crema–the Lehmans, the staff, the customers–they take care of me too.
— Mark Lemley - employee of [almost] 10 years

...mic drop.