Including chains, Knoxville probably has at least 50 coffee shops. All are not created equal. Some of Knoxville’s coffee shops feel crowded and rushed. Others have a great space but the เมล็ดกาแฟไทย is bitter or weak. A few coffee shops offer everything but are frankly too expensive. Who wants to pay $7 for a cup ‘o joe? If you’re looking for coffee in Knoxville, skip the chains and try a cup at these three coffee houses, the best ones in Knoxville.
- Blackbird Coffeehouse, 1211 Kenesaw Avenue, (865) 249-6951
This coffee shop is one of Knoxville’s treasures. The place is small and a little out of the way. (Actually, Blackbird Coffeehouse is really out of the way if you live in west Knoxville, but the coffee is worth every mile!) This coffee shop is hidden in the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood. Kingston Pike cuts through this neighborhood between the University of Tennessee’s strip and Bearden. Many people thought the location was great for the atmosphere, but too far out of the way for business. So far, those people have been wrong and the Blackbird Coffeehouse seems to be flourishing in Knoxville. It recently celebrated its first anniversary.
This coffeehouse is the kind you would expect to find on television, but one that Bob Newhart would visit instead of the Jerry Seinfeld coffee shop. The setting is very quaint and an artist is featured each month. The people are friendly, but if you want to sit in the corner and read or do your homework, they’ll leave you alone. Sometimes, the shop offers greeting cards or prints by local artists. These are usually very affordable; imagine sending someone a painting instead of the usual Hallmark. They offer lots of pastries and some sandwiches. The menu is a little limited and changes often. The best way to find out what’s for lunch is by following the coffeehouse on twitter here. I recommend the Smoky Mountain Brew, no cream and two sugars. Blackbird Coffeehouse is open until 5 p.m. and is closed on Sunday.
- Remedy Coffeeshop, 125 West Jackson (in the Old City), (865) 335-0967
A list of Knoxville’s best coffee shops would not be complete without one in the Old City, and this one is my favorite downtown hangout. You’re welcome to bring your journal and a favorite book, but you might be distracted. The chairs here are cozy and you may decide to join in a game of scrabble or rummy. Plus, you can always browse the Remedy’s own collection of books. (Don’t worry…if you find something interesting, you can take it home and finish it free.) In the evenings, Remedy often serves as a venue for the area’s up-and-coming musicians. I don’t think they’ve ever charged a coffee. Remedy Coffeeshop’s coffee is all organic and free trade, with a lot of regional brews.
Remedy’s menu is a little limited but the choice of beverages is one of the largest in town. I love their teas, everything from stiff English blends to tart fruity teas. The iced coffees are great, too. The blends and the desserts rotate. If lemon chess bars are available on the day you visit, grab two. (You’ll want one for later!) Remedy Coffeeshop is someone of an experiment in Knoxville. The remedy is the city’s first non-profit coffee shop…at least the first one that is intentionally non-profit. Proceeds are donated to various charitable organizations. Again, the best place to keep up with what’s available is on their twitter page here. Remedy also has a good Web site with upcoming events in Knoxville here.
- Pete’s Coffee Shop, Locust Street (downtown), (865) 523-2860
(The address is technically Union Street, but it’s between Clinch and Summitt Hill downtown.) Pete’s Coffee Shop is Knoxville’s Jerry Seinfeld Coffee Shop. The dining room is a little more crowded than the first two choices on this list. The tables are closer together, with no couches or cushions and it’s a bit hectic on some days during the lunch rush. The coffee choices are limited…regular or decaf…but Pete’s Coffee shop offers a full menu. And, yes, you can get a big salad here. This coffee shop has been a vibrant part of Knoxville’s downtown scene for almost 25 years. Its proximity to East Tennessee’s banking center and the courthouse means you’ll likely see many of the city’s movers and shakers here, but don’t worry. The service is great and you won’t wait long for your food. And they still have a bottomless cup of coffee with free refills!
Pete’s Coffee Shop always makes the various “Best of Knoxville” lists. I highly recommend their BLT and their breaded chicken fillet sandwiches. Make sure you ask about the daily specials. These are reminiscent of old blue plate specials…you get a meat and two vegetables with bread or corn rolls for a little over $5. Breakfast is also delicious. (The eggs-over-easy are always perfect.) Look at their entire menu on Pete’s Web site here. Pete’s only serves breakfast and lunch. It’s open at 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed on Sunday.