For not being a coffee city (aka. Portland or Seattle), Knoxville has a lot of coffee shops. And more seem to be opening every few months.
Most folks seem to be content to stick to the shop nearest their home or work. Others will venture across town — my wife and I did this on a regular basis when we lived in West Knoxville — for that glorious java.
In an effort to help those new to Knoxville or its growing coffee scene, here are the city’s best coffee shops:
- Old City Java: This is the coffee shop I mentioned previously that drew my wife and I from West Knoxville to downtown. It’s located in the heart of Old City, and has a hip, worn-in feeling. And OCJ is also the winner of Metro Pulse’s Best of Knoxville award for best coffee shop (many years over). But the real story here is the coffee and baked goods — owner Meg Hunter-Parrish knows her coffee and how to prepare it. She also creates the wonderful treats, including homemade marshmallows! (Full disclosure: My wife‘s awesome cookies are sold at Old City Java.)
- The Golden Roast: I’d reckon the majority of UT students have visited this coffee shop located off the Strip at one point in their academic lives. It’s also home to Knoxville’s primary coffee roaster — many shops on this list are customers, in fact. This shop has a bookish feel, and plenty of tables for philosophical discussions. Parking is atrocious through, being near campus.
- Blackbird Coffeehouse: The vaunted Sequoyah Hills area got their own coffee shop in July of last year with the opening of Blackbird Coffeehouse. This small but well situated shop serves very tasty coffee from a roaster out of Virginia, and bagels from Hot Bagel in Oak Ridge. There isn’t much room to lounge, but if you happen to live in this part of town, I can think of no better place to grab a cup.
- Cafe 4: One of Knoxville’s newest businesses, Cafe 4 is located on prime real estate in Market Square downtown. Though they’re technically a restaurant/bar/event space, Cafe 4 manages to impress with friendly and knowledgeable baristas and a rich, comfortable sitting area upstairs. Their house blend, roasted by The Golden Roast, wasn’t terribly impressive — it tasted a little too roasted — but it was a nice cup nonetheless.
- Coffee and Chocolate: Not only does this shop have one of the all-time most popular entries on Knoxify, but it also is a great all-around coffee shop. The location is a cozy spot across from Krutch Park, and feels great on a rainy day. The coffee is not quite on par with other shops in the area, but the chocolates are a delight (though maybe not for your wallet).
- Time Warp Tea Room: This is just about the most unique coffee shop you’ll find in Knoxville. That’s because it’s not only a coffee shop, it’s also damn near a motorcycle museum, chock full of memorabilia for two-wheeled gearheads. TWTR is located on blooming North Central Ave. and serves as the regular meeting place for the Vintage Motorcycle Club (Tuesdays at 6 p.m.). Bonus: TWTR has also been spot-lighted by the Random This girls.
Obviously, these are not all of Knoxville’s coffee shops, but the ones I feel stand out for one reason or another. Sure, we have a million Starbucks and shops within other businesses, such as Borders or Barnes and Noble, but I think these are a dime-a-dozen, though I do have a certain inclination towards the Starbucks on Cedar Bluff.
Note that I have yet to visit Knoxville’s newest coffee shop Remedy Coffee located just around the corner from Old City Java in Old City. Remedy sets itself apart from other ventures in that it’s run by a church, and donates all profits to charity.
If anyone has visited Remedy, and can comment on their offerings please post a comment on this entry. And if you have your own favorite coffee shop in Knoxville, I’d like to hear from you as well!
Photography by Umair Mohsin