Three Cities; Three Local Coffee Shops to Check Out

I’ve been reluctant to publish on this blog exactly where I live, but it’s getting to the point where I’m really owning the cities I’ve lived in. I’m old enough now to not feel stuck in one place (thank goodness for my ugly old Honda), and so I can appreciate a city’s culture much more than I did when in high school. And when I go exploring, and discover great places, I want to share them! Place is such an important part of life (also of the marketing mix, in case you were curious), and I’m ready to begin sharing some of my places with you.

So where am I from? Tennessee, y’all. It’s one of the most beautiful, vibrant places in this entire country. We have the Smoky Mountains to the east, the rolling farmland of middle TN, and the beginning of plains country right before you hit Arkansas.

I’ve lived in 3 cities in TN; two east and one middle. And I’ve found a good local coffee shop in each of them, one that I’ve claimed (or plan to claim) as my own. So if you ever visit any of these 3 cities, here are the coffee shops you need to check out.

Knoxville: K Brew

K Brew
Source: K Brew’s Site

Knoxville is where I grew up, and thanks to my mom’s outgoing nature, I know or know of a ton of people there. One of the founders of K Brew happens to be the son of my high school band director.

That connection was what made me come in initially, but I stayed for the coffee. K Brew can be a tad pretentious about their coffee, but they have every right to be. They do not skimp on quality. They also have a really cool culture — in addition to two very nice locations, including one downtown, the baristas are encouraged to create new drinks. Some of the drinks are then sold seasonally, with a portion of the proceeds from that drink going to the creator of it. One drink that came from that tradition is their Honey Lavender Latte — a definite splurge at $6, but one that is well worth it. And, if the coffee culture at K Brew really intrigues you, they hold free cuppings every Sunday night so you can learn exactly what it is that makes their coffee so good.

Cookeville: Poet’s Coffee

Poet's Coffee
Source: Poet’s Site

Poet’s is the Cookeville hangout. On any given day, it’s full of college students, young moms, and business professionals all enjoying quaint downtown Cookeville — and of course, good coffee. I spent my fair share of time there in college, doing some studying, but mostly catching up with friends. My favorite drink there is the Iced Vietnamese, a luscious blend of coffee and condensed milk.

They also have seasonal drinks as well as a basic menu, and they serve delicious — and affordable — breakfast and lunch food. I’ve found that while most coffee shops offer some type of snack, Poet’s leads in offering filling, protein packed food as opposed to sugary pastries. Although they have those, too — the house made chocolate chip espresso muffin is to die for. And, if all that’s not enough to make you want to stop by, they also sell handmade, local jewelry, and they have live music every Friday night. What’s not to love?

Chattanooga (Hixson): Sour Dough Cuppa Joe

No hay texto alternativo automático disponible.
Source: Sour Dough’s FB Page

Funnily enough, the owners of this shop are a couple that my parents knew when they were dating. The shop itself is fairly new, however — it’s only been around a couple years or so. So far, I’ve only been a few times, but I can already tell it’s a good one. The Irish Cream Latte I got the other day was a treat.

But what Sour Dough is really known for is their baked goods. They offer scones, cinnamon buns, quiche, and other stuff that you can make at home, but it just won’t be as good. And the owners and employees are just as personable as they can be. Plus, the shop is inside an old drive in restaurant building — it’s very different, and very cute. My other favorite thing about this shop so far is that it’s not in downtown Chatt. The fiance and I both enjoy downtown, and it’s true that there are tons of local coffee shops there. But downtown is not super close to where we ended up living. Hixson is a smaller, more inexpensive, less crowded community, and it still has good coffee. Win!

This post is not sponsored by any of these coffee shops; all opinions are completely my own. I just really like coffee shops! (Also, what it it with coffee shops and round logos?? Is it that it evokes the idea of a coffee cup? I must know!)

Goal Update: April 2017

We’re halfway through April, so I’m technically late for a goal update! I have only 2 weeks left of college (!), and I remember that during my last goal update I unofficially culled some goals, so this will likely be a bit shorter than normal. 

Life Goals

  1. Be intentional about communication, especially with roommates. Well, I am glad I made this goal, because otherwise I may not have said anything to my roommate when I came home one night to see her boyfriend, who I’ve never met, drunk and standing in doorway of my apartment in only his boxers. To say that was an uncomfortable, infuriating situation is a huge understatement. But because I did have this goal, and because my boyfriend, who was with me when I happened upon that lovely scene, was also very angry, I quelled my hatred of confrontation and talked to her the next day. And because she is a nice person, she apologized, and has talked to her boyfriend. And we are both moving out in three weeks, so hopefully it won’t happen again.
  2. Get physically stronger, or failing that, just don’t be a couch potato. This was one of the goals I almost threw out the window, but modified instead. However, since getting a new phone, I discovered a fabulous yoga app. I expect to have more specific goals to use it when I start my new round of goals after graduation! I may even give the app its own review post, because I am loving it. 
  3. Read more non-white authors. I’m honestly not even actively trying to find these anymore, since I already had several great ones on my TBR in March. But great-sounding books keep appearing in my path, and they keep being by non-white authors. I’m not complaining. Check out my TBR.
  4. Food: Cook, and stick to $15/month on coffee. Cooking is now an opportunistic thing. But I have stuck to my coffee budget, even though I’m already at my limit for April due to a $6 boutique coffee shop honey lavender latte. No regrets. 

    Education/Career Goals

    1. COB Ambassadors: all goals on this have been killed. RIP. 
    2. Apply to 5ish jobs a month. Yep, still doing this. Doesn’t seem like it’s paying off, though. It’s starting to stress me out. 

    That’s it for the goals. Here’s to the home stretch to graduation. 

    Spring Goals Update: February 2017

    So, we’re about a month into the year.  How have I done so far on my goals for this semester?

    Life Goals

    1. Be intentional about communicating with others, especially roommates.  Well, so far my roommates and I have had zero problems — mainly because none of us are ever around.  We pass each other like ships in the night and when we happen to be home at the same time we do our own thing.  Honestly, that’s how I like it.  In my experience being friends with your roommates just creates more problems than it’s worth.
    2. Get physically stronger.  I worked out a few times the very first week of school, but I underestimated how packed my weeks would  be.  I don’t have Friday classes, so all my classes are squeezed into Monday-Thursday, and Friday I have meetings and also try to knock out as much homework as possible.  So this is not going great.  However, a couple friends and I went to a beginner ballet class on Monday night, and we might try to continue, because it was fun and a great workout.
    3. Find ways to support causes I believe in.  Well, due to time constraints, I haven’t looked at this at all.  However, my capstone project for my Spanish degree has to do with immigration, and that’s something I care about, so that kind of counts.
    4. Read more non-white authors.  Because of the nature of my capstone project, I’ll be reading a lot of Latino authors.  Check out my Goodreads shelf to see what exactly I’ll be reading.  I may not be able to get to all of these for my project, but I do hope to read all of them eventually whether or not I use them.
    5. Food: continue cooking at least once a week; stick to ~$15 a month on coffee.  The boyfriend and I have cooked a ton, it feels like.  There have only been a couple nights so far where I’ve grabbed a single-serve microwave meal from the freezer.  Otherwise, we’ve made a couple simple ready-to-cook Asian meals, and I’ve home-cooked chicken fettucine Alfredo, Costa Rican-esque rice and beans, banana bread, Red Lobster bread (like the rolls, but in bread form), and simple spaghetti and meat sauce.  (See very professional iPhone photos below!)  It’s all simple food, but it’s always a victory to cook instead of warming something up, and then I have leftovers to eat for lunch.  As for coffee, I only spent $11.17 this month (not including creamer and coffee I keep at home, of course — those are grocery purchases).  Go me!

    Education/Career Goals

    1. COB Ambassadors: Try to help project manage an event.  I think this is definitely going to be possible this semester.  We have a new organization president this semester, and during our first meeting she had us all fill out an anonymous survey about what is and isn’t working in the program.  From that, she specifically wants project managers who have never project managed before, which I haven’t.  Last semester, everyone who had done it before would immediately volunteer for the positions, but now more preference will be given to those who haven’t done it yet, so I should get a chance to.  Yay!
    2. Apply to ~5 jobs a month.  Well, I applied to several all at once last weekend, but I’m not really expecting any responses.  I decided to see what Career Services had to say about my resume before I apply to any more, so I’ll be giving that an overhaul.  I love and hate resumes, y’all.  They’re so beautiful and neat and organized, but it’s so hard to get them to where they really show off your relevant skills and interests.  I know I would be a good candidate for many jobs, but a lot of the things that make me a good worker are soft skills.  I really have to work to show how my class projects and previous work experience will translate into me being an asset for a company.

    I have these goals written on my desk calendar, and I didn’t think I was doing quite as well as I am on them.  So this has been a bit of a mood boost and motivator all at once.  And that’s exactly what goal setting is supposed to do in the first place.  Here’s to February.

    On Coffee Culture

    There are a lot of things I didn’t know about before I started college, and the importance of coffee was one of them.  I knew people drank coffee, and that for many it’s an addiction, but I had no idea just how many people are coffee enthusiasts.  I had no idea how culturally important it is.

    I don’t claim to be any kind of coffee expert, although I wish I was.  I have, however, joined the enthusiast club.  Like I assume many do, I started off slow.  There is a Starbucks on my college campus, and freshman year my meal plan included a couple hundred dining dollars I could use at our few food joints that aren’t the cafeteria, including Starbucks.  I wouldn’t have gone in there if one of my friends wasn’t already addicted, but she was, so I did.  She introduced me to frappuccinos, then mochas as it got colder, then finally I graduated to plain coffee.  Especially iced coffee.  I like hot, but iced is the stuff.

    img_8156
    My growing mug collection

    But I didn’t truly get addicted until I went to Costa Rica.  The coffee industry is big there, and thus almost everyone drinks it.  My host parents each drank a cup every morning, and since I ate breakfast with them, I did too.  When I got back home, I dug out my parents’ old coffee pot and continued making some every morning.

    When I climbed aboard the coffee bandwagon, I didn’t just gain a new favorite drink.  I joined a community.  Coffee shops are often the hub of a neighborhood — they’re one of the best places to meet up with friends, study, work, or just take a break.  And they’re versatile.  I’ve never been in two alike coffee shops (even chains develop local quirks over time).  Each shop is reflective of the community it’s in.  Going to coffee shops is one of the best ways to get to know a new city.

    img_8136
    ft. the mug from my local coffee shop

    Plus, coffee is versatile.  While there are those that look down their noses at anyone who doesn’t drink their coffee black, there are literally millions of ways to enjoy it.  There are the universal drinks — lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, to name a few — and there are new creations every day from professional baristas.  There’s almost no limit to what you can add to coffee.

    It can be hard to order.  Most coffee shops assume its customers know a little bit about coffee, so they don’t explicitly display what you can add to your coffee if you want.  If you don’t drink coffee regularly, it can be intimidating to know what to ask for.  But the beauty there is that baristas are experts, and are usually happy to give you a recommendation.

    img_8143
    meow mug ft. surprise cat

    And speaking of beauty, coffee is one of the most photogenic things I have ever laid eyes on.  To be honest, one of the (great many) reasons I love the blogging community is because we’re pretty much all addicted to coffee, and we love to take pictures of it.  Every time I see a photo of a blanket, a laptop, and a mug of coffee, it just makes me happy.  It may be cliche, but there’s a reason.  Words and coffee just go together.

    Coffee takes a biggish chunk out of my budget.  I’m trying to cut back on buying it from shops, but I also like to support my local one.  Like everything, it’s a balance.  But even though my wallet might, I don’t regret taking up the habit.  In addition to being able to enjoy one of the most delicious beverages on the planet, I can now truly enjoy the coffee community and all it has to offer.

    img_8162
    ft. crochet cat

     

    img_8169
    souvenirs from New Mexico

    All photos taken by the wonderful boyfriend, whose Flickr (with other amazing photos) can be found here