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Treetop Coffee Shop using profits to help children

"We love coffee, and we love kids," Peters said. "Every kid should grow up in a home where they feel comfortable and safe, and it should be simple."

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — The smell of freshly brewed coffee fills the air as customers trickle into Treetop Coffee Shop tucked away in the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood in West Knoxville.

Seasonal, handcrafted drinks are their specialty, each cup full of interesting flavors dreamed up by co-owners Courtney Peters and Rachel Casstevens.

"We've got, right now, a fig and cardamom latte which came about from the Great British Baking Show. I mean, the inspiration is kind of endless. I don't think there's any wrong way to make a fun cup of coffee," Casstevens smiled.

Credit: Heather Waliga
Inside Treetop Coffee Shop at 1206 Kennesaw Ave.

Treetop Coffee Shop opened the doors to its new permanent location in August, but got its start on wheels two year ago.

After college, Casstevens and Peters moved from Texas to Knoxville in 2018, quickly gaining a loyal following in the city's growing food truck scene.

Credit: Heather Waliga
Rachel Casstevens (left) and Courtney Peters (right) pose for a picture outside their coffee truck.

The mobile coffee vendor also catered events while the women used their other passion to make a lasting impact on the community.

"We love coffee, and we love kids," Peters said. "Every kid should grow up in a home where they feel comfortable and safe and it should be simple."

During college, Peters worked with a non-profit in El Salvador that partnered with a group home. Casstevens' family took in foster children. The women were so moved by their experiences they made it their mission to help others.

At the end of each month they set aside 10% of their sales, partnering with local, national and international non-profits that support foster care and adoption.

"The more money we can raise through sales, the more money we'll be able to give back to those families," Casstevens said. 

Credit: Treetop Coffee Shop
Treetop Coffee Shop partnered with Love and Hope Children's Home that cares for orphaned, neglected abused and abandoned children in El Salvador.

"Last year we helped a family adopt, so we just raised money and gave them towards their adoption fund and we've bought books for a boys' home when they were stuck there over Christmas," Peters said.

This Christmas they'll deliver gifts with the Helen Ross Mcnabb Center's Dear Santa program.

Their mission is catching on with younger customers like Alhen Drillich who has become a regular at Treetop.

"Now that a lot of us are starting to make choices with our wallets, we can choose where we put that, and I want to know what the story is, not just how great the product is," Drillich said. 

Credit: Treetop Coffee Shop
Treetop partnered with Harmony Family Center in March.

In Treetop's permanent home the doors are open seven days a week and people are packing in, taking notice of their service with a purpose.

"We're accessible and they can get a great cup of coffee, but they're also excited because they do get to feel like they're part of the mission which is the whole point," Casstevens smiled.