Irregular pink marble floors, original exposed beams, the vestiges of the old church kitchen—these are just some of the charming architectural features welcoming customers at The Golden Roast Marble City. This newest space, counterpart to the “fast-and-furious” location on Melrose established in 1994, opened in January of 2020. What is evident in speaking with Don Payne, owner of this Knoxville franchise, is not only his commitment to the best coffee, what he calls “farm to cup,” but also his support for community—“locals supporting locals.”
If the brief mention of 2020 just made your skin crawl, here’s a cozy memory to offset: Don had his first cup of coffee at six years old, and he remembers it vividly, sipping it with cream and sugar. “One of my oldest brothers gave it to me, and I thought it was the best thing ever.”
While coffee began as Don’s hobby, it transformed into a passion for its chemistry—Don says his heart is in the roasting process, and shortly after the original Golden Roast opened, they began roasting their own beans on a Royal No. 4 machine from 1914, displayed at the front of the shop. Nostalgia is everywhere, and Don pays tribute to history: local, national, and global.
“I get to read about the families, the farm, how much they’re producing, what went on this past year for their family and how their farms got affected,” Don says, and he is incredibly thoughtful about the geographical journey the beans take to get into your morning latte. Seeing Don’s excitement about a cross-country motorcycle ride he’s planning for the summer highlights just how much he cares about people and places.
Even before opening the Marble City coffee shop, Don and his team participated in the Knoxville Open Streets event where they handed out free coffee and engaged with the neighborhood to get a sense of their needs. And when asked about what he wanted the Sutherland site to be he admitted at the time, “I can’t answer that. It’s all going to be dependent on the people here in the community and the customers, and from there, it’s going to get its DNA.”
What was once Marble City Methodist’s congregation hall is now a space lined with exposed brick, indie music, live edge tables, and textured couches. Throughout the shop, you’ll find wares from local artisans such as Knox Girl Soap, Knox Paper Scissors, Janine Does Pottery, and Cass Collective, so you can shop Knoxville businesses as you enjoy Don’s favorite coffee, the Nitro, made of Mexican Chiapas beans.
Outside, is an impressive wooden deck with string lights, and Don plans on live music, patio poetry, and food trucks on the weekends throughout the summer. The general manager, Taylor (we absolutely adore her and she may or may not be a writer for New2Knox as well – okay, she is. Check out one of her pieces here.), is responsible for seasonal drinks and a unique signature menu. Right now, they are featuring the Banana Nut Latte, Tea-Painkiller, Kookaberry, and the Coconut Chai Latte. *drool*
After the unprecedented year we have had, Don invites us all to Golden Roast Coffee to relax, to stay awhile, to “come in and just breathe.” With the local love, vibrant patio, and caffeine for days, we plan to do just that.
See you at Golden Roast, Knoxville!