October 1st is National Coffee Day, so we thought we’d share some thoughts about Knoxville’s coffee bean scene. There are all kinds of coffeehouses here and we want to help you find the perfect cup!
Vibe - Remedy is a shop in North Knoxville, just a stone’s throw away from downtown. If you like natural light and plant bb’s, this is the shop for you. If you were to ask them their thoughts on themselves, they’d say their goal is to be serious about coffee, but they don’t take themselves seriously at all. They’d love for everyone to be educated and drink great coffee, but know that you don’t have to be pretentious about it! Their advice would be to enjoy what you like – whether a caramel latte or a naturally processed Ethiopian pour-over.
Roast - They regularly carry Intelligentsia out of Chicago, one of the original third-wave roasters. The other guest roaster rotates every three months or so; recently it has been Little Wolf from Massachusetts and Methodical from Greenville, SC.
Fall Drink Specials - Try a Campfire Cappuccino – it’s got dark brown sugar, housemade vanilla syrup and smoked salt. They say it’s like drinking a cappuccino with close friends around a campfire, except you’re in a coffee shop, while socially distanced. They’ve also got a Spiced Pear Tonic with crisp tonic water, pear juice, and spiced syrup. Lastly check out the Narragansett, which they admit isn’t technically a seasonal drink (it’s the beer from Jaws) but it’s delicious and darn it they’re putting it on the menu!
Visitor Recommendation - “Paysan. Paysan. Paysan. Paysan is our next-door neighbor and they have a variety of baked goods, with a focus on bagels and bagel sandwiches. Everything they touch is amazing and they pump out some killer food and bread.” With coffee and bagel in hand, you can take a stroll in the adjacent Old Gray Cemetery. Sounds weird but it’s peaceful and full of history – check it out on the Divided Loyalties Civil War Driving Tour.
Vibe - K Brew has been a local favorite since 2013. Originating in the Old North neighborhood, K Brew now has three locations across Knoxville: one on Broadway, one in west Knoxville near West Town Mall, and inside the Embassy Suites Downtown. They’re known for their unique hammock seating, friendly staff and laid-back atmosphere - perfect for hangouts with friends or meetings with colleagues.
Roast – They offer their signature Marble City Blend, as well as a rotating single-origin coffee, expertly roasted espresso, and delicious decaf.
Fall Drink Specials – They are well known to locals for their Pumpkin Pie Latte (real pumpkin!) and their Butterbier Latte. This fall you can try their new Chipotle Maple Latte (the Cinnamon Vanilla Latte and Honey Lavender Latte stay on the menu year-round). 5% of all proceeds of these Feature Drinks go to the baristas who created them, rewarding the hard-working team for their creativity!
Visitor Recommendation – Enjoy the nearby outdoors; Sharp’s Ridge is just up the road from the north location. It’ll be a beautiful fall and the leaves will be out in full, colorful force. Don’t forget to snap a selfie at the Greetings from Knoxville Mural on the side of the adjacent building of the north location.
Vibe – This super cozy chill spot in the heart of downtown has all one needs in life: coffee AND chocolate. They’ve been serving up the goods since 2005. You’re sure to run into locals with their regular customers that keep comping back for more.
Roast – They have a partnership with Golden Roast (local roaster, see their section for more) for fresh roasted coffee daily.
Fall Drink Specials – Featured fall faves include Pumpkin Spice Latte, Maple Nut Latte, and Dirty Chai. BONUS: featured chocolates are the Maple Truffle, Pumpkin Truffle, and this year they are doing Pumpkin Muffins.
Visitor Recommendations - They’ve got the foodies covered: “If I was new in town I would recommend stopping in the Visitor Center of course (we didn’t pay them to say that!) then eat at J.C. Holdway, Kaizen, Lonesome Dove, Knox Mason, and Sapphire.”
Vibe – The Golden Roast has two locations: Melrose and Marble City. Melrose has been recently renovated and is a UT campus staple having been there for 25 years. The vibe is moody in a good way with whimsical twinkling lights against black walls. Perfect for reading with some lo-fi in your headphones or chatting with friends. Be sure to check out the restroom walls – ok, weird rec, we know – to scope out the drawings of coffee cups submitted by people in the community.
The Marble City location on Sutherland Avenue location opened in January 2020 in a reclaimed church building that preserves the history of the space beautifully for the community. The floor is the original pink Tennessee marble (brought in by hand by the original church members from the quarry!). The aesthetic here is homey and welcoming – and we can’t WAIT to check out the fire pit on the patio as the temps drop.
Expect to find lots of art and products from local makers available from both locations for purchase on Venmo.
Roast – The magic happens at their roaster in Powell (North Knox County off Emory Road next to Panther Dough Joe). They have a whopping 25 varieties of roasts and have even started bottling so you can enjoy their cold brew too.
Fall Drink Specials – You’re in Vol Country now, so try the Big Orange Cinnamon Roll Latte - it’s like a sweet orange roll in a cup! They also have a new collab with Inny’s Bake Shop, Knoxville’s first all Keto bakery, to create a Keto-compliant PSL called the PumpKeto Latte for the health-conscious.
Visitor Recommendations – If you’re at Melrose, you’re practically on campus! Explore UT’s beautiful architecture and surrounding neighborhood including greenways, UT Gardens, and more here. For those visiting Sutherland, explore that eclectic street here with a latte in hand.
Vibe – You’ll know you’re somewhere unique before you walk in the door. Their lime green and charcoal gray color scheme is funky and a welcome change of pace. This shop in East Knoxville has a relaxed, welcoming feel. They have made in-house baked goods and quiche. If you’re in around lunchtime, they have homemade soups and yeast rolls with your choice of chicken/tuna/egg salad.
Roast – They carry a few different roasts from Vienna Coffee (local roaster, see their section for more).
Fall Drink Specials – Try the Cup of Love Latte which tastes like apple pie + cinnamon dolce – yum!
Visitor Recommendations – There is a lot to experience and enjoy in this part of town. Check out The Muse, Chilhowee Park, Zoo Knoxville, and the Knoxville Botanical Gardens. Check out more on East Knoxville here.
Vibe – What started as an airstream trailer in 2014 has now expanded to three physical locations. Their West Shop (Kingston Pike/Lovell), the biggest of the three, features lots of natural lighting, a modern design, and a welcoming feel. Their SoKno Shop on Sevier Avenue is quiet and laid back with lots of comfy seating. Their third shop opened down the way in Sevierville. They encourage customers to ask questions to expand your coffee knowledge and further the specialty coffee community. Visitors to Knoxville can expect high-quality specialty coffee in East Tennessee from Honeybee and other coffeehouses.
Roast – They roast their own at the West Shop for use at their own shops and wholesale clients. They recently launched a new Limited Release Project, releasing small batches of very special & unique coffees currently just in Knoxville, so come by and try some!
Fall Drink Specials – Another shop keeping us in suspense…stay tuned for autumn feels for your taste buds.
Vibe – Capybara is a Specialty Coffee Shop with a laid-back environment with quality products and friendly service. They have great coffee (and craft teas from Smith Teamaker) and focus specifically on Brazilian coffee culture. Coffee is a major part of Brazilians’ identity, and everyday life revolves around the bean. From morning "cafe com leite" (drip coffee and milk) to afternoon "cafezinho" (strong brewed plain black coffee) and after lunch espresso, the day starts and sometimes ends in coffee.
Roast – Their goal is to bring more of the Brazilian Specialty Coffee scene to the spotlight, partnering with two roasters who have great relationships with Brazilian farmers: Panther out of Florida and Casa Brasil out of Texas. Panther is an influential roaster in Miami and elsewhere, you’ll find this roaster used in their everyday coffee blends. Casa Brasil is a highly specialized roaster with a focus on direct fair trade with Brazilian small farmers, who’re responsible for the micro-lots (small farms, small batches) that Capybara serves using multiple brewing methods (V60 Pour Over, French Press, Chemex).
Fall Drink Specials – Try their Pumpkin Spice Latte – with real pumpkin! Another favorite is the in-house brewed Chai Tea, perfect for fall. It’s a rich beverage that can be enjoyed hot or iced year-round.
Visitor Recommendations – The University of Tennessee, the UT Gardens, and so much more is nearby, read more about this area here.
Vibe - Awaken Coffee is located in downtown Knoxville's historic Old City. The building is over 100 years old and has the most incredible morning light – perfect for creating your own little reading nook and hunkering down with a book.
Roast – Awaken features two excellent regional roasters: Quills based out of Louisville, KY and Stay Golden out of Nashville, TN.
Fall Drink Specials – Their fall menu is the bomb dot com – try “Awaken the Basic” for their version of real pumpkin + vanilla latte. Their “Downtown Spice” is a pumpkin latte with cinnamon and toasted marshmallow (you can add toasted ‘mallow to any drink and get tableside s’mores too). Other drinks include “The Great Pumpkin”, “Chumpkin Chai”, S’mores Latte, and more. For cold drinks, try their New Orleans Chicory Cold Brew or a Nitro Cold Brew.
Visitor Recommendations – Explore the Old City itself with handcrafted coffee to help fuel your adventure.
Vibe – This space is a place where great coffee and great community can happen simultaneously, and a nice gathering spot for downtown Knoxville to work, study, and have a great conversation. Their dream is to create a missional cafe where all proceeds go to supporting local missions and ministries. Expect to find comfy couches, a fireplace, and plenty of space to spread out.
Roast – They carry coffee roasted by Vienna Coffee Company, utilizing everything from the premium light roast Foothills series to classics such as the Dark Horse. Three options for drip - light roast single-origin Ethiopian Yirgachef, medium roast Vienna house blend, and the dark roast called Dark Horse. For espresso, you’ve got two options - Thunderhead espresso (dark medium roast) and the High Summit (medium roast). For pour-over, they serve several options of premium roasts (Guatemalan Geisha, Ethiopian, Guatemalan, and Honduran). They also typically carry around 20 different roasts of bagged coffee to take home.
Fall Drink Specials – Try the cinnamon roll latte or their pumpkin spice latte…and a vanilla bourbon latte is still in development!
Visitor Recommendations – This shop is on N. Gay Street (just look for the cute yellow umbrellas outside), so even if you were to ONLY stay on this street you’d pass quite a bit as it’s one of the main downtown thoroughfares. Start with a coffee, then head south (cross over the railroad tracks) and hit the “100 Block” of Gay Street. The Emporium and UT Gallery on the left, fun dining and bevvies (like Tern Club) on the right. Cross Summit Hill and you’ll hit our Visitor Center – c’mon in and we’ll tell you where to go next!
Vibe – You’ll really catch a coastal feel when you walk in to Mahalo, after all, “Mahalo” means Thank You in Hawaiian. Bright whites and crisp blues and a signature surfboard adorn the chill layout. This spot in the Powell neighborhood is energetic and perfect for bringing the kids, putting down your phone and enjoying the community. Tip: if it’s rainy, cold, or don’t feel like wrangling the kids out of the circus that is your vehicle – they have a drive-thru!
Roast – As implied by the name, Mahalo is a local roaster in Knoxville. They’ll tell you they have high standards with their specialty coffee – but it’s approachable and not pretentious. The coffees they offer range from bright Ethiopian and Costa Rican natural coffees, to complex Washed coffees from Kenya and Guatemala. They regularly rotate different single origins on filter coffee to let people try and learn about different coffees. “Dawn Patrol” is a blend of Ethiopia and Brazil and is the go-to for their espresso-based drinks. Their roasting style is a bit on the lighter side to showcase the quality of their sourced coffees.
Fall Drink Specials – Of course, there’s a Pumpkin Spice Latte, but for something different try the Cardamom + Cinnamon Latte. For the tea drinkers, they’ve got a Pumpkin Chai Latte, and their seasonal blend to try is their Bonfire Blend (Sumatra + Ethiopia, tasting notes of cedar and pipe tobacco). Add a pumpkin loaf or apple cinnamon scone from Flour Head Bakery and you’ve got fall on lock!
Visitor Recommendations – Need an outdoor fix? They’re super close to Tommy Schumpert Park in north Knox County. A disc golf course, an excellent dog park, and a paved greenway await!
Vibe – South Press is the newest shop to grace the Knoxville coffee scene; it’s a community space in SoKno on Chapman Highway built on locally sourced products, eco-friendly business practice and great hospitality. Some have described the aesthetic as “90s coffee shop meets 50s diner”. You’ll find second-hand furnishings, board games, puzzles, books, and an eclectic vinyl collection. Expect to be “greeted with love and affirmation”! They welcome all people and cater to an alternative crowd: “The queer, punk, goth, artist, or any misfit could easily find themselves at home in the South Press space.”
Roast – Their coffee is sourced from Knoxville Coffee Company, a small roaster based out of NoKno. It’s a family business headed up by a father and son duo that is soon to relocate to Sutherland Avenue.
Fall Drink Specials – Try the Pumpkin Spiced Chai Tea with Gingerbread Crème – comes with freshly grated cinnamon on top! It tastes rich, spicy, and creamy and you can get the vanilla chai and spiced versions.
Visitor Recommendations – “SoKno is the best! We live here and love it.” Be sure to visit Ijams Nature Center, Suttree Landing Park, or Fort Dickersonwhich is just up the street. “There’s so much to see and do in South Knox – you’ll want to visit as often as you can!”
This post focuses on coffeehouses where coffee is the main deal (i.e. not cafes where food is more the core offering/no donut shops/other retail that serves coffee onsite). But we’d be remiss to leave out the mobile coffee carts and trucks around town, including The Coffee Run 865, Pedal Java, Three Bears Coffee, and the Treetop Coffee Shop. For a full list of shops, head here.
We hope this helped you get to know Knoxville’s coffee scene better, we think you deserve a great cup on your next visit here!