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August 30, 2014

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Knoxville’s best coffee shops

enjoy-coffee

Update: Based on a comment from Becky Hancock, I updated the list to include the awesomely eclectic Time Warp Tea Room.

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. 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!

Creative Commons License Photography by Umair Mohsin

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  • http://timferraris.com Tim F.

    I’m a fan of Gourmet’s Market/Cosmo’s in “The District.” The bottomless cup is pretty steep (in my book) at around $2.50 with tax, but there’s always a different brew from which to choose.
    The breakfast is always great, and one can always find their latest kitchen gadget in the store side as well.

  • http://www.imallovertown.com Rob

    I totally agree with Coffee & Chocolate. But I’m one of those Knoxvillians who finds something good and sticks with it. That means, hopefully, that it sticks around for a while.

  • http://pattiesrants.blogspot.com Pattie

    According to Remedy Coffee’s Twitter feed, they’re not open yet: http://twitter.com/remedy_coffee Should be opening soon, though.

  • http://patrickbeeson.com Patrick Beeson

    @Tim

    I totally forgot about Gourmet Market! It’s not a coffee shop, but they do have good coffee as I recall.

    Great brunches as well.

    @Pattie

    I just heard that Remedy might delay their opening until March.

  • http://eric.themoritzfamily.com Eric Moritz

    The best coffee in town is made by the beatnik in St Mary’s Lobby. He is awesome. When my wife was pregnant, his awesome latte made sure I was with there for almost every ob/gyn appointment she had.

    I’m said that I don’t have an excuse to go to St. Mary’s anymore…

    My favorite shop so far has been Blackbird. The coffee is delicious, and the couple that run it are super nice.

    I’m anxiously awaiting Remedy though. I’m sure if they can’t brew great cup Patrick and I can teach them.

  • Becky Hancock

    Not purely a coffee shop per se, but the Time Warp Tea Room at 1209 N. Central is my favorite. I don’t drink coffee (except for iced mocha with extra milk), but they serve a good selection of lattes, espressos, and other coffee drinks I don’t order. They have a wonderful selection of teas, cider, Jones Sodas, and smoothies.

    TWTR is unpretentious, comfy, and decorated with vintage motorcycle memorabilia. If you ride any motorcycle from 1985 or earlier, or any contemporary european or japanese motorcycle, you might enjoy the company there on Tuesday nights. The TWTR is also open for MotoGP races (and probably other AMA races), if you want to bond with other race fans over a cup of joe, watching the Kentucky Kid and the Texas Tornado do their thing..

    In keeping with its vintage persona, Time Warp doesn’t have its own web site, but they do have a MySpace page http://www.myspace.com/timewarptearoom that lists regular entertainment, and the Time Warp Vintage Motorcycle Club has a web presence as well. http://www.timewarpvmc.org/Tea_Room.htm

    Vroom!

  • CJ

    I’m a fan of Old City, although (full disclosure) it’s the only Knoxville shop I’ve been to! I just love the worn in, comfy feel. It’s an interesting and artsy atmosphere, without being intimidating or pretentious.

  • http://themoderngal.blogspot.com The Modern Gal

    I love all of those places, but I’ve had a really hard time picking a favorite since I’ve been here. I do know Remedy isn’t slated to open until early spring now, but they’d probably let you stop by for a peek.

  • David

    What about the Time Warp Tea Room on Central Avenue?

    It may not be strictly a coffee shop (they have a full menu), but the Time Warp is a great place.

    Among various coffee drinks, the Time Warp has (what seems to me) the entire Jones Soda selection, a full menu, tons of old motorcycle memorobelia (even an old racing cycle resting in the middle of the main room like an exhibit), and a game room full of old classics! I recommend the Evil Kinevil pinball machine.

    If you haven’t been there yet, I strongly suggest visiting.

  • http://patrickbeeson.com Patrick Beeson

    @David

    Time Warp! I can’t believe I forgot them!

    (And to think I’m also a motorcyclist.)

    I love their Vintage Motorcycle Night, happening Tuesdays at 7 p.m.

  • Sonya Luchauer

    My favorite is definitely Blackbird Coffeehouse. Just the other day I was sitting in the intimate lounge area (on the orange couch) sipping a cup of black coffee, eating a freshly toasted bagel, listening to some great music, and thinking “I wish I lived closer to this coffee shop”. Still doesn’t stop me from popping in pretty regularly! I still need to make it in to Old City Java to try some of Lindsay’s cookies :)

  • Becky Hancock

    what am I, chopped liver? I wrote a post about Time Warp 2 hours before David, complete with links. :)

  • http://patrickbeeson.com Patrick Beeson

    @Becky Hancock: Fixed. Apologies for not giving the right cred!

  • http://www.laurenspuhler.com lauren spuhler

    I like several of the spots in the list, but it would be nice if one or two had a drive-through. I don’t have the time before work to park, walk in and order. And I don’t drink coffee any other time.

    Shamefully, for this reason, I’m a fan of Dunkin’ Donuts on Cedar Bluff. In addition to great coffee, the owners are quick and friendly.

  • http://patrickbeeson.com Patrick Beeson

    @lauren spuhler: A drive-through?!

    You should dedicate more time for your coffee! :)

  • http://www.jodycollins.com Jody Collins

    Does the break room at KNS count? I pile so many accouterments into my coffee that any thing I say is null and void.

  • http://patrickbeeson.com Patrick Beeson

    @Jody Collins: It’s not too late! My wife recently dropped the Splenda addition to her coffee. I think she’ll get down to black soon.

  • http://timferraris.com Tim F.

    I’m just pissed that I moved out of Sequoyah Hills before Blackbird opened.

    @Lauren Spuhler
    The DD on Cedar Bluff is great. I hit it up when I’m in that direction.

  • Molly Bear

    Word on the Black Bird C.H. try the Ethiopian java…muy bien

  • http://patrickteasdale.wordpress.com TeasdaleJr

    Nine months later, Remedy Coffee Shop is open and boy does it beg to be reviewed by Knoxify! Like stated before it is ran by a church and all profits are donated to a charity. Not only being a gift that keeps giving, it is a cup that keeps pouring. Perfect free-trade coffee with the best leather couches, chairs, and tables to sip it away. When you walk in, you know you are Downtown, super-friendly staff, rich wood, exposed brick, deep artwork, and “suspended” conversation room. Open Mic Night on Fridays, Movie Showings, and First Friday Exhibits. Remedy Coffee, the best of Knoxville.

  • http://knoxify.com CP

    TeasdaleJr – we did write a review of Remedy a while back. Check it out here: http://knoxify.com/coffee-with-a-cause-remedy-coffee/

  • Lon

    Come all the way from Canada to visit friends. Found Remedy coffee house and I can say it is the best coffeehouse I have ever been to. Love the location, the atmosphere and the people. Can’t wait to come back to knoxville.
    Lonnie

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  • Charlotte Forester

    ok i hate star bucks and places like that, i find it impersonal and the unfair trade coffee makes me nuts! I live in west knoxville and there are NO good coffee shops out here.

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