This story is part of Tri-Cities Best, a section of News Channel 11’s community coverage that asks you to choose your favorite businesses in the region. South Fork Coffee was chosen as the area’s top coffeehouse, among several competitors:

  • Brewrista and the Bean – Johnson City
  • Dos Gatos Coffee Bar – Johnson City
  • The Coffee Company – Elizabethton

Hundreds of nominations and votes were cast, and each one is an honor.

BLUFF CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – When it comes to coffee, the Tri-Cities have a lot to choose from. From longtime classics to brand-new businesses, a fresh cup is never far away. That’s why this month’s Tri-Cities Best contest was an important one — and an honor for South Fork Coffee in Bluff City.

South Fork opened in March 2022 and had some unique circumstances behind its creation. The business is actually a nonprofit and extension of the Impact Community Center nearby, which provides office and working space for other nonprofits in the region.

October’s seasonal flavors are naturally harvest-themed, like Pumpkin and Apple Cider. (Photo/WJHL)

“It’s not just that we’re a coffee shop,” said Joshua Church, manager of the location. “We wanted to also be able to stick with them as something else that would bring a little bit of excitement, a little more ownership for the community and the people that live here.”

Church said he wasn’t much of a barista before the business began, but he spent his downtime researching to figure out consistency before he got fancy with his concoctions.

“We do like to have staple drinks, you could call it I guess a basic menu,” Church said.

The business hosts a regular slate of flavorings that are all made in-house:

  • Dark Chocolate
  • White Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  • Sugar-Free Vanilla
  • Caramel

In addition, 3-4 seasonal flavors make their way into the menu alongside baked goods from Lazy Lady Baking Company. Counter Culture beans are ground on-site, and the supplier is known as one of the top dogs in the specialty coffee industry.

Counter Culture beans take center stage for South Fork, and multiple blends are available. (Photo/WJHL)

One of the more unique aspects of the business is its suggested donation business model rather than set prices that everyone has to pay. A double espresso is suggested at $2.50, but Church said guests are able to donate more or less depending on their need.

At the end of this fiscal year, the business’s profits will be tallied up and donated in one lump sum to the Impact Community Center. That money, Church said, makes life much easier for local organizations.

“Having a space to run the nonprofit organization is a big deal, so that’s what they do,” Church said. “They have all these organizations that have offices in there.”

Another big part of their appeal, Church said, is their riverside location. Named after the South Fork Holston River, the nonprofit’s canoe logo has attracted several anglers in the past who were interested in what it had to offer.

So far, keeping it simple is paying off for Church and his crew. With high-level ingredients and an important mission, South Fork Coffee plans to become a staple of the Bluff City community.