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Vienna Coffee in Downtown Knoxville pays it forward with every cup

Under new ownership, Vienna Coffee in the Regas Building is brewing up business centered on paying it forward. The company is pouring its profits into ministries.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — From sun up to sun down, coffee is always brewing at Vienna Coffee in the Regas Building.

“It’s a comfort. We either drink it to make us awake or we drink it just to sooth ourselves,” said Co-Owner Marc Atchley about coffee. “Conversations and coffee really go together.”

And, that’s the goal at Vienna Coffee in the Regas Building in Downtown Knoxville.

Credit: Brian Holt

“Community happens over a cup of coffee,” Atchley said.

Nearly two months ago, new owners took over the coffee shop. Customers won’t notice a difference, but the community will. 

“This was an opportunity for us to take a coffee shop that already has a great brand in a growing business area and look at from the perspective of being very intentional about ministry,” Atchley said.

The new company is named Watauga Coffee after a hotel that stood in the space between the 1930s and 1940s. It will pour all of its profits into ministry at home and abroad. 

While the business model is new, Atchley says the opportunities to serve will vary from employing nonprofit clients, donating coffee and pastries, even providing community space. 

Atchley and his family are leading by example.

Credit: Marc Atchley

“It’s a big transition,” admitted Atchley. “I’ve got a 16-year-old and soon-to-be 15-year-old, a just-turned 12-year-old and a 9-year-old.”  

They’re relocating to Athens, Greece this summer to become missionaries. The family will be partnering with the Greek Evangelical Church there to help refugees with basic needs from language and housing to government services.  

And, Atchley is hoping to eventually add coffee to the list.

“To see coffee shops in every community, that’s the big dream.”

Paying it forward whether it’s Athens, Greece or Downtown Knoxville.

“We’re called to go into the world and preach the gospel,” said Atchley.  “We can bring that message through a cup of coffee.”