While you can certainly get some tasty drinks at major coffee chains, you won’t find that special, local touch that can upgrade your coffee drinking experience.
Knoxvillians love their coffee and this city is full of local options.
After four days of talking to baristas, feeling out shop vibes and drinking more caffeine than we’re willing to admit, Knox News presents a guide to your local coffee scene.
Near UT’s campus
The Golden Roast
The first stop on our coffee tour was The Golden Roast. Right off of University of Tennessee campus, The Golden Roast has been serving professors and students since 1994.
It roasts all of its coffee in-house, meaning you’ll find a slew of original drinks on the menu like the Big Orange Mocha and the Bavarian Chocolate Cold Brew, two customer favorites.
“There’s always a very comfortable atmosphere here for employees and customers,” Eliza Barnhart, a barista at The Golden Roast, told Knox News. “We always try and make the vibes warm and welcoming.”
Redesigned in 2019, the shop has a chic, comfortable feeling, inviting customers to get cozy for meetings, long study sessions or coffee dates.
Try: Barnhart recommends the Kookaburra, a cold brew with chocolate, coconut and half-and-half.
Locations: 825 Melrose Place; 2558 Sutherland Ave.
Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
The next stop kept us close to UT’s campus in University Commons. Capybara Coffee brings authentic Brazilian brews to the Knoxville community.
Owner Leticia Fernandes and her husband spent most of their lives in Brazil, enjoying the country’s coffee scene and dreaming of opening their own shop abroad.
They opened Capybara Coffee in 2018 and have put their everything into creating a comfortable space with great drinks.
“Capybaras are super common in Brazil. They’re a very friendly animal, and we wanted to bring that feeling here to Capybara Coffee,” Fernandes said. “They’re also very cute, so that helps.”
The shop is full of Capybara fan art drawn by customers who have fallen in love with the shop.
While they can make sweeter drinks such as mochas and lattes, the store specialty is the Brazilian black coffee.
Try: Fernandes recommends the cortado, an espresso mixed with milk to reduce acidity.
Location: 2457 University Commons Way
Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday; closed Saturday and Sunday
Treetop Coffee Shop
Heading a bit farther west brings you to a bit of an unorthodox place to get coffee: a coffee truck.
Treetop Coffee Shop is the passion project of Courtney Peters and Rachel Casstevens. The two opened the truck in March 2019, blending their passions for coffee and helping kids in the foster care system.
Each month, Treetop sets aside a portion of its proceeds for nonprofit organizations such as Restoration House, The Bottom Knoxville, Gideon’s Army and more.
“We started (Treetop Coffee Shop) because we’re both really passionate about kids who have been through foster care and families that have been going through adoption, which can be lengthy and complicated,” Peters told Knox News. “We wanted to do something that was purposeful, but also fun, so we decided to merge the idea with coffee.”
Try: Peters recommends the seasonal blueberry lavender Thunderbird latte.
Location: While Treetop has operated completely out of its food truck since opening, it will soon have a permanent storefront at 1206 Kenesaw Ave.
Hours: Check out the food truck’s hours on its website
Mahalo Coffee Roasters
A number of coffee shops call downtown home, including Mahalo Coffee Roasters.
Located at the former location of Pearl on Union, Mahalo roasts its beans at its main location in Powell, focusing on light and medium roasts.
As for Mahalo’s vibes, they don’t get much better downtown. The downtown location doesn’t have a ton of space for those looking to stick around for a while, but if you are able to grab a seat, you’ll likely feel right at home. There are multiple spots outside the shop, allowing for guests to people watch.
Try: “Drinks like our black cold brew are smooth, go down easy and are enough to change anyone’s mind about coffee,” barista Josh Douglass told Knox News.
Locations: 513 Union Ave.; 1317 East Emory Road
Hours: Downtown hours are 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday; In Powell, 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday
Coffee and Chocolate
Perhaps the smallest coffee shop in all of Knoxville is Coffee and Chocolate, a go-to spot for those looking for a quick sugar or caffeine pick-me-up downtown.
One glance at the artful sweet treats lining their display case is enough to make anyone drool. The hand painted chocolates look so beautiful that it almost feels like a waste to eat them.
Due to its incredibly small size, you might not want to plan to set up shop for hours on end in Coffee and Chocolate. Its close proximity to Market Square and Gay Street ensures that people will constantly be coming in and out, making it a bit hard to focus on work.
Try: Serving coffee from the Golden Roast, barista Rachel Vancleave recommends a classic, black cup of joe.
Location: 327 Union Ave.
Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
The Old City
Old City Java
Our coffee journey now takes us from the heart of downtown to the Old City.
Though the bulk of Old City Java’s space has been closed since the height of the pandemic, the shop operates a to-go window in the alleyway.
Owner Shaun Parrish noted that the shop has been undergoing renovations and will hopefully fully reopen by the end of summer.
“There’s a ton of character (at Old City Java),” barista Mattie Wilken told Knox News. “It’s very much a neighborhood shop. Our regulars are quirky in the best kind of way… We’re not a super starchy, white, clean looking coffee shop. We have a really cozy feel, and hope to be stewards of the neighborhood coffee shop.”
Try: Old City Java gets its beans from Counter Culture, serving up some fairly unique blends. The barista recommended the okolu blend of black coffee, hailing from East Guji, Ethiopia, with tasting notes of blueberry, blood orange and milk chocolate.
Location: 109 South Central St.
Hours: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily
Vienna Coffee at The Regas Building
After serving the Maryville community for years, Vienna brought its original roasts to Knoxville in the Regas Building in a space known as “The Gathering Place.”
“We want to bring a high energy, comfortable space downtown for locals and UT students alike,” Daniel Rudolf, the general manager of Vienna, told Knox News.
Occupying a fairly open space compared to most other coffee shops in the area, Vienna has a “business casual study hall” kind of feel. Vienna Coffee gets its coffee from the original location in Maryville, which roasts its own beans.
It feels like a space used for professional meetings, not somewhere you could roll into in sweatpants right after waking up.
Try: Rudolf recommends the toffee nut white mocha, which pairs well with Vienna’s cold brew.
Location: 318 N. Gay St.
Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; closed Sunday
Right around the corner from Old City Java sits Awaken Coffee, a cozy little shop that opened in 2016. It’s part of Awaken Old City Church, a nondenominational congregation that hopes to spread their message through coffee.
Though the bulk of the space is reserved for the church, those looking for a place to relax or study with a coffee will still find a few spaces near the shop’s entrance.
With a whole slew of original syrups and brews on the menu, Awaken offers special drinks you won’t find anywhere else.
Try: An iced black bear, a latte with notes of honey and peanut butter.
Location: 125 W. Jackson Ave.
Hours: 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; 1-6 p.m. Sunday
Our coffee journey now takes us from the Old City to North Knoxville.
Remedy Coffee has been operating for more than 10 years. Remedy aims to highlight brews that you won’t find anywhere else in the city, sourcing beans from all over the country.
According to manager Alex Simmerman, Remedy tries to change its roasts every few months to keep things interesting for customers. It is currently serving roasts from Methodical in Greenville, South Carolina, and Heart Roasters in Portland, Oregon.
“We’re the only place in Knoxville that you can really find unique, interesting roasters from all over the country,” Simmerman said. “We really pride ourselves on that. We do our best to have a really big variety.”
It’s easy to take a seat in Remedy and stay for hours. It features a ton of windows, meaning that the space is always full of light.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” said Colton Kirby, a manager at Remedy. “We keep it casual, and try to include all of the things about coffee shops people love without being pretentious.”
Try: Kirby and Simmerman recommend a Burundi blend from Heart and a Kenya blend from Method.
Location: 800 Tyson St.
Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends
One of the more unusual coffee shops in Knoxville is Jacks, which has both a downtown and Central Street location.
While one might associate coffee shops with coffee first and foremost, you could associate Jacks with a number of things, including local art, plants and books for sale.
Jacks currently serves roasts from Parlor, a roastery based in New York.
Those looking for a unique spin on a traditional coffee shop will feel right at home in Jacks. While you might just stop by for a coffee or a bite to eat, it’s very possible you could leave with a piece of local art or a new plant, something that you can’t really say about any other coffee shop in the city.
Try: Barista Reem Arniok recommends the strawberry matcha, a seasonal drink served in the summer.
Location: 854 N. Central St. and 133 S. Gay St.
Hours: Central is open 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; The Gay Street location is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday.
Originally operating out of an extremely small location in 2013, K Brew quickly became a Knoxville staple, moving to its location at 1138 N. Broadway in 2016. It has added locations in West Knoxville and downtown.
Though they initially served coffee from other roasters, K Brew began roasting its own beans in 2019. K Brew’s North Knoxville location not only serves as its main location, but also offers some of the best vibes in Knoxville.
It features three different areas: traditional tables perfect for working or studying, couches for lounging and a covered outdoor area with hammocks and picnic tables.
Try: A sweet cream cold brew
Location: 1138 N. Broadway, 7822 Kingston Pike West, 507 S. Gay St. inside Embassy Suites
Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
Nestled on Magnolia Avenue is Likewise Coffee, a new shop that opened its doors last November.
Likewise is owned and operated by Raising a Voice, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting human trafficking both locally and nationally. All of the proceeds from Likewise go to Raising a Voice.
“Our purpose here is to serve the community and be a place that people can gather and get really good coffee,” Caleb Newman, a manager at Likewise, told Knox News. “We opened in the middle of a pandemic, so things have been a bit slow to start, but business has been really good, especially recently.”
Likewise operates out of an old house, giving the entire place an incredibly homey vibe. It’s easy to immediately feel comfortable at Likewise and stick around for hours, making it perfect for personal meetings and long study sessions.
All of Likewise’s coffee is roasted in house.
Try: Newman recommends the honey cinnamon latte.
Location: 1209 E. Magnolia Ave.
Hours: 7 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday
Perk City is a down-to-earth shop built in the Chilhowee Park neighborhood.
It opened in fall 2019 and initially struggled to find a customer base, especially after COVID-19 forced it to close in March 2020.
“We want to be a community coffee house where everyone knows your name, talks to each other, and really gets to experience the community,” owner Sherene Jacobs told Knox News.
Perk City might not be as fancy as some other coffee shops in Knoxville, but it is full of heart. Jacobs and her staff create a friendly atmosphere, making Perk City a great place for coffee runs or local meetings.
Try: Jacobs recommends lavender latte, made with Vienna Coffee.
Location: 3229 E. Magnolia Ave.
Hours: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8:30 a.m.-Noon Saturday; closed Sunday
Honeybee Coffee Company
Our coffee quest now takes us from East Knoxville to South Knoxville.
After opening its first permanent location in early 2017, Honeybee Coffee Company has become a staple of the South Knoxville community and has since expanded into West Knoxville and Sevierville.
“We have a fantastic community here in South Knoxville. We can really have a good conversation with whoever comes in,” Mitchell Bustillo, a barista at Honeybee, told Knox News. “This is a really good safe space for people to be in, which is a really special thing.”
Honeybee roasts all of its beans in house, focusing on medium to light roasts. They make an effort to roast coffee “as ethically as possible,” according to Bustillo, using ingredients that go straight from farms to customers.
The South Knoxville location of Honeybee has a friendly vibe and if it’s not too crowded can be the perfect place to get some work done.
Try: Bustillo recommended the iced cappuccino.
Location: 700 Sevier Ave., 10716 Kingston Pike, 7600 Kingston Pike, 101 E. Main St. in Sevierville
Hours: Hours vary by store
One of two new additions to the South Knoxville coffee scene is South Press, located at 3615 Chapman Highway.
Built to be a friendly, safe place for Knoxville’s LGBTQ community, South Press has a welcoming, homey vibe. The shop features tons of mugs, figures, books, flags and more that make you feel as if you’ve just stepped into the home of an eccentric collector.
If you’re looking for a cute space to relax in, hang out with friends and get some work done, South Press is a great place to spend a few hours.
Try: The seasonal “Bi-Curious George,” an iced latte with notes of chocolate and peanut butter.
Location: 3615 Chapman Highway
Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday
Commonplace Coffee & Community
The newest coffee shop in South Knoxville is Commonplace Coffee & Community.
Owner Eli Cockrum said he and his family wanted to create a space for people to gather in South Knoxville.
“My family and I live less than a mile from the shop. This is our neighborhood, our community,” Cockrum told Knox News.
The space that Commonplace now occupies was once a bank. From the large mural of South Knoxville on one of the walls to the dining area inside a vault, Commonplace has one of the more distinctive presences of any coffee shop in Knoxville.
Commonplace gets its coffee from Sharewell Coffee Roasters in North Carolina, but makes all its syrups. Cockrum noted that its syrup selection is smaller than most shops, but the shops focuses on creating fresh, tasty syrups.
Try: Cockrum recommended a lavender latte made with fresh syrup.
Location: 6000 Chapman Highway
Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday
Other coffee shops in Knoxville to try:
Wild Love Bakehouse
Dining room currently closed, curbside service only
8 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
1625 N. Central St. in Happy Holler
Matt Robb’s Biscuits & Brew
8 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
800 Market St. in downtown Knoxville
The Empty Cup
7 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday
9111 Executive Park Dr. in Cedar Bluff
Life House Coffee
6:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
2100 W. Emory Road in Powell
The Coffee Run
7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday
6667 Maynardville Pike in Halls
Wrenhouse Coffee & Bakery
5:30 a.m.- 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-Noon Saturday
7404 Tazewell Pike in Corryton
Which of your favorite Knoxville coffee shops did we miss? Email [email protected] and tell us!