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For this Texas Traveler Adventure we are going to venture our way up to the Great Smoky Mountains! This summer was our first time exploring the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. When we go to the mountains it is usually the Rocky Mountains, so this was definitely a change for us. Although it was different, I would say that it was a great change! If you have yet to visit this area I would definitely add it to your list of “one day to do”. It it such a unique area that differs from Texas greatly. Discovering a new place that is so incredibly different from your hometown is something I wish I had the chance to do more. To meet new people, explore different cultures, and observe some amaze views is something that makes my heart pretty warm! If you are looking for a cool place to do just that, look no further than Cherokee, North Carolina. If you are wondering if Cherokee has anything to do with the Cherokee Indian Tribe then you are absolutely correct. Cherokee is on the reservation home of the Eastern band of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokees that escaped their removal during the time of the trail of tears or came back to the area established the Eastern band of the Cherokee Indians in this area. It is easy to see that the Eastern band of the Cherokee Indians stands extremely strong today. The town of Cherokee has oodles and oodles of attractions to enjoy including the museum of the Cherokee Indian, the fire mountain trails, cool shops, a casino resort, and fun outdoor adventures. Something else that Cherokee has that we were ecstatic about was as absolutely adorable coffee house!

When driving down the street, the coffee shop was hard to miss. The shop, “Qualla Java Cafe”, is in a wood and stone building with a rustic cabin flair. The shop really does belong in the mountains with its natural and earthy tones. I looked up the word “Qualla” to see what exactly it meant and I found that Qualla is the Boundary held as a land trust for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. So this coffee shop is for the people of this wonderful town and embraces their history and culture. I love it! Being true to the location and Native American roots, this coffee shop is organic, fair trade, and indigenous grown and they are sure to let everyone know because those words hang right below the sign for the shop. There are a few tables and chairs outside of the shop that are covered if you want to sit in the shade and enjoy the fresh North Carolina air. When you walk into the shop, you honestly can not help but smile. All three of us sisters love log cabin and rustically decorated places, so this coffeehouse was right up our alley. The use of wood in different shades in the shop is abundant and there are even little cut outs of tree trunks adorned on the wall above the coffee bar area. I have yet to see that before and I think it perfectly intertwines nature into the shop in a lovely way. “Qualla Java Cafe” has so many elements in the shop about the mountains and has a strong sense of outdoor pride.  Pictures of mountain landscapes, fun signs about hiking and loving the mountains are dispersed around the coffeehouse. There are also Cherokee roots that are celebrated in the shop by having mounted masks on the wall and by the names of their signature drinks with names like “Raven Mocker”, “13 Moons”, and “Spearfinger”. I love the creative way to incorporate cool aspects of Cherokee culture in their menu! The coffeehouse has many places to sit, relax, and sip on some steaming brew. There is a bar area that looks out of the main window, and there’s a large quirky velvet couch with chairs and tables around it and plenty of booths in the backroom areas. I love it when coffee shops have areas where you can escape that are a little quieter if you need to work.

Although we visited the shop on a summer day, it was pretty cool outside. Embracing the chillier weather than what I am used to, I got the steaming “Peace Maker” blend that was incredible to say the least. The “Peace Maker” consisted of the shop’s in-house roasted coffee with vanilla and cinnamon. It was the perfect drink to enjoy while sitting outside on the back porch area listening to the river flow along and the leaves brush each other in the wind. The coffee house actually doubles as a roastry! “Qualla Java Cafe” roasts their own beans and you can definitely tell. There is a room that is closed off in the shop that holds the huge coffee roaster. The room has a window that you can look through and see the giant machine if you wanted to check it out. Madison and Kaylee ordered an iced coffee with hazelnut and half and half. They thought that it was extremely tasteful and the hazelnut syrup did not overpower the drink whatsoever. 

Cherokee is such a pleasant town with so much culture, nature, and amazing coffee! I definitely would love to come back and visit in the fall. How amazing would the fall colors be around this already charmingly rustic town? Texans, if you ever find yourself wandering through North Carolina, make your way over to Cherokee and try out “Qualla Java Cafe”. Have a sip and enjoy everything this town has to offer!


Allie Boykin

Photos by Madison and Kaylee Boykin

Explore Cherokee, North Carolina:





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