Downtown Chattanooga fueled by popular coffee shop hangout

The downtown Chattanooga coffee shop scene has been around a while, and Greyfriar’s Coffee & Tea Company has been fueling their customers with unique coffees and breakfast offerings for quite some time.

Jack Howland

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/TheLoop)For the better part of a decade, Greyfriar’s Coffee and Tea Company has been serving Chattanoogans quality coffee and pastries from the little shop at the corner of 4th and Broad streets.

Greyfriar’s is a full service coffee shop that features house roasted coffee, cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas and also specializes in such breakfast offerings as pastries, bagels, cakes and pies, all of which are baked in house.

Greyfriar's regularly displays their daily pastry and breakfast features for their customers.

The shop, along with the roastery, has inhabited the same building, located at 406 Broad St., since its inception.

The cozy shop offers a relaxing and laid back atmosphere coupled with specialty coffees and a full breakfast menu.

Greyfriar’s coffee selection typically features seven to ten different single origin roasts and blends at a time, the shop’s head roaster, Kevin Ricks, said.

However, Ricks added that he is constantly experimenting with blends and each bean’s flavor profiles of caramel, or chocolate, or berries or even spices and how to harmoniously unify each characteristic.

“As far as blends, we don’t really serve them in the shop,” Ricks added, “We do blends for different restaurants.”

Ricks added that in addition to Greyfriar’s, their coffee is also served at Big River Grille, 222 Broad St., and Neidlov’s Breadworks, 215 East Main St.

Greyfriar's features a full bar capable of brewing up anything their customers may think up.

However, their coffee can only be purchased in the coffee shop or online, though Ricks recommends customers call before ordering to be insured of the freshest and most available coffee selections.

“The big companies have more priority and the market prices for greens keep rising, but the projections for next year’s beans are much better than this year’s,” Ricks said.

Greens are the coffee beans before they are roasted.

This is what coffee beans look like prior to being put into the roasting machine.

Ricks began his coffee shop experience on the retail end, but moved to being the roaster for Greyfriar’s in June of this year. Ricks said he is completely fascinated by the nuances of roasting coffee.

“I had not roasted before, but the opportunity presented itself. It’s a lot of fun, I learn something new every day,” Ricks said.

Ricks added that he would like to see the shop grow both retail and wholesale wise and also expand to offer more lunch offerings for their food menu.

“I want the shop to continue being a second home for people, to where they can feel comfortable and enjoy the laid back atmosphere,” Ricks said.

If you liked this article, check out this article about another downtown coffee shop roasting their own coffee as well.

Local roaster donates 5% of sales to environmental causes

Jack Howland

Blue Smoke Coffee has only been around the Chattanooga area for a few years, but has already garnered a faithful following, due in part to the company’s charitable contributions. But Blue Smoke’s owner has no ambition of his company becoming a booming coffee powerhouse.

Chattanooga (UTC/TheLoop) — It all started as a hobby in his father’s old cabin in the Smoky Mountains on the weekends and during what little free time was granted him, but quickly blossomed into a full-time entrepreneurial undertaking.

For Kevin Price, owning his own coffee roasting company was never planned, for him it just kind of happened when some of his friends in Gatlinburg, Tenn. offered to sell his beans in their store. And Blue Smoke Coffee was born.

Blue Smoke Coffee commands a good portion of the coffee display at Greenlife Grocery and offers at least five different roasts.

Based now in Chattanooga, Tenn., Blue Smoke Coffee can be found in such retail markets as Greenlife Grocery, Earth Fare, and Crabtree Farms, and 212 Market Restaurant is currently offering Blue Smoke as a French press. Elsewhere, Blue Smoke Coffee can be found in Knoxville and Gatlinburg, Tenn., Boone and Asheville, NC, Atlanta, Ga. and can even be purchased online at

According to Price, Blue Smoke Coffee is not about becoming a booming coffee roasting monopoly. Instead, his goal is to continue roasting the highest quality beans he possibly can while also being able to give back to the community by donating five percent of his sales to environmental and humanitarian causes.

Kevin Price, at right, owner of Blue Smoke Coffee, attends several of the farmers' markets in Chattanooga and even donates time and fresh brewed coffee at various off-road running races.

“I have tried to refrain from studying what other roasters are doing and just focus on doing my own thing by developing my own unique way of blending and roasting to create blends that are distinctly Blue Smoke,” Price said.

Currently, Price offers five blends at each of the outlets that carry Blue Smoke Coffee. Such blends range from a light, medium and dark roast, to an espresso roast and a decaf roast.

All of Blue Smoke's coffees and merchandise can be purchased online and at many retailers in the region.

Price started out donating only one percent of his sales to the aforementioned causes, but as demand grew, so also has his donations. “Soon Blue Smoke will be donating 10 percent of its sales,” Price added.

Much of Blue Smoke’s sales directly benefit many of Chattanooga’s environmentally focused causes such as Appalachian Voices, Trust for Public Land – Stringer’s Ridge, Wild Trails and Crabtree Farms.

Price also maintains that many Chattanoogans are still not drinking local coffee, that the local roasters are competing against many national brands.

“My advice to Chattanooga roasters is not to compete with their fellow local roasters, but instead focus on taking market share away from the big national brands,” Price adds.

If you like this article, you might also like this article about a coffee shop located practically on UTC’s campus that is roasting their own beans.