Friday, April 12, 2024

Coffee around campus: 4 local spots for a caffeine fix 


Share post:

Featured photo by Shauna Reynolds

Story by Shauna Reynolds

If you want more news like this, sign up for the Sidelines weekly newsletter here! Find it in your inbox every Thursday afternoon.

Imagine a beverage that can help a student stay awake all night to finish a presentation or make an 8 a.m. class more tolerable after a long night of *not* studying. Truly, coffee is a student’s best friend. Thankfully, there is no shortage of coffee shops around Middle Tennessee State University. Here are a few delightful local places to grab a drink to go or sit down and study for a while. 

For a home away from home

Dapper Owl is a coffee pub and bakery just around the corner from campus at 2412 E. Main St. The seating is cozy, but not cramped. It’s an excellent place to study some tables are large enough to spread out with books and friends, but there are also smaller nooks suitable for solo study time. 

Baristas Megan Zandiotis and Kyle Pulley are ready to serve house-baked treats and pour delicious drinks. (Photo by Shauna Reynolds).

Co-owner Tracy Terrell says Dapper Owl gives “a warm, homey feeling.” 

“We’re also very diverse and all-inclusive,” Terrell said. “We are a safe space.” 

The baristas serve hot and cold drinks made with coffee roasted at Nashville’s Frothy Monkey. Early spring seasonal drinks debuted earlier this month and include The Duchess, a concoction of espresso and milk sweetened with brown sugar. Baked goods are made in-house; Don’t miss the bagels and spreads. 

Terrell said online ordering and delivery will be available soon, but there’s another convenience where she draws the line. 

“People will often ask why we don’t have a drive-thru,” she said. 

“We want people to come in and talk to us. We want to connect with people and connect with the community. That’s one of the main things that we’re here for.” 

Dapper Owl is also a hub for entertainment. Songwriters perform every other weekend, and Terrell is excited about upcoming open mics.  

For a cup on the road

For students who live outside of Murfreesboro, the daily commute requires a bit of extra fuel. Bigfoot and the Bee is a coffee trailer with a regular spot just east of Smyrna at 5021 NW Broad St. The trailer is parked there four days a week from 6 a.m. til 2 p.m. Make alternate plans before Wednesday classes.

Co-owner Anna Smotherman passes a specialty drink through the window at Bigfoot and the Bee. (Photo by Shauna Reynolds).

Co-owner Anna Smotherman’s creative drink menu shines with drinks featuring house-made syrups – even you’d-never-guess-it’s-sugar-free flavors. Blueberry sweet cream, strawberry cold foam and cherry amaretto syrup are a few ingredients that make Bigfoot and the Bee’s menu special.  

The bourbon maple latte is a revelation and can make that drive to campus a little less soul-sucking and monotonous.  

For the coffee snob

Brass Horn Coffee Roasters is located at 410 W. Lytle St. They roast their own beans, which can be enjoyed as a latte or pour-over style. The menu and the cafe feel a little more Nashville than Murfreesboro.  

Shift leader and barista Kari Ann Williams has been making drinks at Brass Horn Coffee Roasters for about a year. (Photo by Shauna Reynolds).

Barista and shift leader Kari Ann Williams said that Brass Horn owner Jeremy Florida has been roasting coffee for over ten years. Williams recommended the cappuccino. 

“We usually have a single-origin for our smaller espresso drinks,” she said. “I just like having those nice little notes of different flavors.” 

Brass Horn’s food menu includes elements sourced from Murfreesboro neighbors, like ham from G&W Hamery and bread from Simply Pure Sweets. 

Indoor and outdoor seating are available, and during spring spending some time outside with some avocado toast, a Cuban coffee and a good book might be what it takes to get through finals week. 

For the vibes (and the waffles)

Bean Loft is an open and airy yet intimate space at 2136 Middle Tennessee Blvd. Owner Akirah Chaney wants customers to stop by and chill with him.  

Akirah Chaney, owner of Bean Loft, is ready to make conversation and drinks. (Photo by Shauna Reynolds).

“We make sure that the environment and the ambiance in here is very mellow,” he said. “So people can study and have a quiet time while they’re here.” 

Natural light and soft music make Bean Loft an ideal spot to grab an iced lavender latte and finish that essay.  

Notable items on Bean Loft’s food menu include a variety of sweet and savory waffles. For the very hungry, the Bussin’ Burrito has an impossible amount of flavor wrapped up in a tidy tortilla. 

Chaney wants everyone to feel welcome at Bean Loft.  

“We like for everyone to be themselves around here,” he said. “It’s like my living room, and I’m your coffee snob friend making your coffee and talking to you.” 

Beyond being convenient for students, locally owned and community focused, there’s another thing these four coffee shops have in common. They are all the kind of place where the owners and baristas will take the time to learn customers’ names, remember their favorite orders and suggest something new they might love. In this increasingly impersonal and disconnected world, that’s a priceless addition to a cup of coffee. Now there’s no excuse to go to class hungry and half-asleep. There’s a coffee shop in Murfreesboro for everyone. Get out there and find the perfect cup. 

To contact Lifestyles Editor Destiny Mizell and Assistant Lifestyles Editor Shamani Salahuddin, email For more news, visit, or follow us on Instagram at MTSUSidelines or on X at @MTSUSidelines.

Related articles

School voucher program promises results but faces significant resistance

Featured photo by Kailee Shores Story by Hannah Ferraria If you want more news like this, sign up for the Sidelines...

Lizzy McAlpine’s new album is not for the faint of heart

Featured photo by Lizzy McAlpineStory by Kaleigh Young Lizzy McAlpine, recently known for her song “Ceilings,” just released...

Off to see the wizards: two costumed students captivate a crowd

Story by Shauna Reynolds Photos by Noah McLane If you want more news like this, sign up for the Sidelines...

Crime rates in Tennessee’s 10 biggest cities, ranked

If you want more news like this, sign up for the Sidelines weekly newsletter here! Find it in your inbox...