NEWPORT, Tenn. — In Cocke County, a unique coffee shop is caffeinating the community inside of a revamped trolley car from Maine.
It's called Snowbird Mountain Coffee Company. The Victorian-style trolley is not what you usually see on the side of the road in Newport, and that's exactly how owners Corey and Missy Ackerman like it.
They hope this roadside-shop is the beginning of a Newport renaissance.
"We wanted something really unique, really eye-catching, something really different, so that when people saw it, they would see it and want to stop there," Corey Ackerman said.
The couple started out with a trailer that they would take to festivals and different cities, selling their coffee and products. They knew they wanted a more-permanent business and wanted a brick and mortar with a drive thru at first.
But, when they couldn't find the type of property they were looking for, they set their sights on finding a trolley to revamp. They found one in Maine and knew they had to get it.
"It was a retired city bus that then became a wedding trolley -- and then it was a retired wedding trolley," Corey Ackerman said.
It took about four to five months to re-do the whole thing. There are still improvements and renovations they are working on. The owners say they are doing three times the amount of business they originally bargained for.
Now, they are able to brew, blend and bring caffeine to the community. They say their best-selling drinks are frappes, but they also sell non-coffee drinks, teas, kids' drinks, lattes, macchiatos, drip coffee, espresso, pastries, wraps and snacks.
They are focused on making sure their customers have a positive experience every time they pull into the drive-thru lane.
"We want to bring customer service back to the forefront," Missy Ackerman said. "I think that that has kind of gone to the wayside, I guess you can say."
They love the fact that they are bringing artisan coffee to Appalachia. They want their dreams to continue expanding, and hopefully it will start a positive trend in the area.
"We're really hoping that this kind of sparks a Newport Renaissance," Corey Ackerman said. "I mean, I feel like the town is kind of a diamond in the rough. It's the gateway of the Smokies and there are some really awesome small businesses here."
Downtown Newport has a hand-scooped ice cream shop, boutiques and family-owned movie theater in town. The Ackermans know locally-owned businesses are the backbone of a successful town.
Their passion for locally roasted coffee actually started with a goal of being farmers.
"What we found out is that we're actually terrible at farming," Corey Ackerman laughed. "We had signed up for a bunch of farmers markets, our crops failed, but I had roasted coffee as a hobby for a number of years and so we just started taking coffee, and we did maple syrup on our farm."
That led to opening a business in a pandemic, at the beginning of 2021.
"It's just one of those things. It's like, once you have a little success at it, you just kind of start building from there, right," Corey Ackerman shrugged.
The couple wants to eventually open a brick-and-mortar shop and expand their trolley stops to other places.
Snowbird Mountain Coffee Company is open Tuesday to Saturday until 5 p.m. most of days, but times may vary.