It didn’t take long to determine what business would best fit in the space at 125 W. Jackson, recently vacated by Remedy Coffee: a coffee shop. When Adam and Sarah Lutts heard the space might be open, they knew it would be a good fit for them. That marked the beginning of what would become Awaken Coffee.
The Knoxville couple, married for twenty years with three children, had been looking to be more connected to downtown. After a career in retail and customer service, including a long stint at Musician’s Friend and Guitar Center, Adam shifted to the ministry in 2004, serving as youth minister at Awaken City Church in west Knoxville starting in October 2012. Subsequently he became senior pastor of a smaller group from the church meeting on Fifth Avenue.
The couple looked into leasing the space both for a coffee shop and to utilize the rear space for a meeting place for their church. Before accepting the lease, they sought out help on the coffee end and found it in the person of Matt Robbins, original manager at Remedy and bottler of his own cold brew coffee. Once he was on board they signed the lease and began preparations to open.
In addition to his passion about coffee, Matt is also passionate about the Old City and lives within walking distance of the new shop. When asked, “Why a coffee shop?” Adam answered, “‘Coffee shop’ to me is the ultimate community.” He also was attracted to the fact that the place was already a destination, noting that whenever they’ve been working inside to prepare for the opening he’s had to turn away people at the door. Customers will find some familiarity in the space, but also some differences.
They are excited about he back space – which is actually the visible half of the space previously used – and see a lot of possible uses beyond the Sunday services. The vision is for it to be used for weddings and receptions and they already have some dates booked. They also hope it will be used by various groups for events, presentations and round tables. CD release parties are a possibility, as well, and they hope to have it in use daily. Additionally, the room above the coffee bar is available for smaller meetings.
As for the coffee house proper, Adam says you can expect excellent coffee and more. “We know there are lots of places to get good coffee,” but they’ll focus on doing what they do and doing it very well. They’ll have non-dairy options and gluten-free options. They won’t focus on juices, syrups and flavoring, preferring instead to, “let the coffee speak for itself.” The coffee will be Quills Coffee out of Louisville, Kentucky which isn’t available elsewhere in Knoxville. Adam described it as, “very smooth and flavorful.”
One of the things that really impressed the team with Quills was the decaf, which Adam said was, “the best I’ve ever had.” With that much care put into the decaf, they knew the company was serious and the other roasts and blends were also exceptional in their opinion. After sampling a number of other roasters’ coffees, they kept coming back to the company who, in turn, has been very helpful in selection of equipment, set up of the shop and training of the staff.
That set up includes a new La Marzocco Linea II expresso machine. Fetco brewers and Mazzer grinders have also been added to the lineup of machinery. A total of about five or six employees including baristas and front-line workers will be employed once the shop is in full swing. You’ll also find Cruz Farm milk, chai and almond milk and Dale’s Fried Pies.
A different artist will be featured each month and that will start with the fine art of Ben Adams from The Village. Proceeds from sales of the art go directly to the artist.
The staff was trained yesterday and a soft opening will run today through Thursday with hours limited to 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Friday will begin regular hours which are Monday through Thursday, 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM, Friday, 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM, Saturday 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM and Sunday 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Hours may be extended later into the evening if that seems warranted going forward.
Adam emphasized that the goal is to “make a warm environment for everyone,” from downtown residents to visitors to the city. You’ll find their facebook page here and more information about rental of the backroom here. Give them a “like” on Facebook and stop in to check out the new coffee shop on the block.