Blackbird Coffeehouse, Knoxville’s newest coffee shop, opened yesterday at it’s location on 1208 Kenesaw Avenue in Sequoyah Hills.
The focus of Blackbird is both the quality of coffee, and providing a comfortable place to relax said co-owner Ali Johnston, who has been an occasional employee of coffee shops since she was 16 years old.
“I tried to do other things, but always kept doing this instead,” said Ali.
Blackbird has been a work-in-progress for at least a year, said Ali and co-owner and husband Craig Johnston. The couple moved to Knoxville from Nashville where they attended the School of Audio Engineering.
Ali and Craig had originally intended to start a business where kids could come to record and perform music. Despite starting a coffee shop instead, the couple continues to take an active interest in the recording industry.
But their coffee shop is dedicated to something more sentimental.
The Johnston’s started Blackbird Coffeehouse in part because of their dog Skippy, who passed away nearly a year ago. His photo adorns the refrigerator behind the front counter.
“He survived every possible thing a dog could go through,” said Ali. “After he died, it was like our focus shifted. It put a lot of things in perspective for me.”
Skippy’s death also had an impact on her husband.
“I think I came home from work one day, and said ‘Let’s open a coffeehouse’,” said Craig.
Location: I love the fact that this shop is nestled back in a quiet neighborhood. And it’s much closer for West Knoxvillians than downtown coffee shops The Golden Roast and Old City Java, among others.
Ambiance: The interior is small, but cozy. There are three tables (two inside and one outside) and a couch. The music choices are a mix of indie rock and alt country. I’m sure they’d be open to requests.
Blackbird Coffeehouse also offers free wireless Internet access for customers.
Coffee: I tried the house blend called Blackbird House Blend, and found it very tasty. The shop currently serves this option in addition to an Italian (Appalachian Smoke) and decaf (Shade Tree).
They make all of the usual mixed drinks such as lattes, and sell whole beans from Mattie’s Mountain Mud Coffee in half pound and pound bags.
Food: Blackbird Coffeehouse serves a variety of food including: cupcakes from Cities Cupcakes, bagels from Hot Bagel in Oakridge, muffins, cookies, cinnamon rolls and breakfast sandwiches. They also serve several lunch sandwiches.
Photography by tonx