Bongo is a small yet world-famous company: we began with a single café in 1993 and have since grown to five cafés and two wholesale businesses (supplying organic coffee and gourmet baked goods). We got world-wide attention in 1996 with the discovery of the NunBun, a cinnamon bun that looks remarkably like Mother Teresa.
Bongo World supports communities by expanding the definition of quality to include how stuff is produced, purchased and served.
Therefore, we buy as much organically produced foods and coffee from regional producers as is practical. 100% of our coffee is organic, bought almost directly from small-scale producers and we likely buy more organic and regional produce, meats and cheeses than any restaurant group in town. We hire a professional staff who are focused on customer service. We have a large group of SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) and BGA (Barista Guild of America) trained baristas and barista trainers.
Our businesses are a collection of oldest, firsts and only-s in Nashville.
Bongo Java (est. 1993) is Nashville’s oldest and most honored coffeehouse.
Fido is Nashville’s largest buyer of local ingredients and the only café housed in a former pet shop.
Bongo Java Roasting Co. is Nashville’s only certified organic coffee company.
Grins Vegetarian Café is Nashville’s oldest vegetarian café and its first certified kosher restaurant.
Hot & Cold is the only place we know that takes its coffee as seriously as its ice cream and, more importantly, it was the first place to dip Las Paletas into Olive & Sinclair chocolate.
The company was started by Bob Bernstein, a recovering journalist and a group of investors. He received his master’s in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and reluctantly moved to Nashville to work for a weekly business paper. He soon realized he liked the city more than the job and three years later quit weeks before turning 30 to open Bongo Java. The company grew through a series of accidents, unexpected opportunities and operational needs.