T cells play a vital role in combatting SARS-CoV-2 and in forming long-term memory responses. Whereas extensive structural information is available on neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, such information on SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell receptors (TCRs) bound to their peptide–MHC targets is lacking. We determined structures of a public and a private TCR from COVID-19 convalescent patients in complex with HLA-A2 and two SARS-CoV-2 spike protein epitopes (YLQ and RLQ). The structures revealed the basis for selection of particular TRAV and TRBV germline genes by the public but not the private TCR, and for the ability of both TCRs to recognize natural variants of YLQ and RLQ but not homologous epitopes from human seasonal coronaviruses. By elucidating the mechanism for TCR recognition of an immunodominant yet variable epitope (YLQ) and a conserved but less commonly targeted epitope (RLQ), this study can inform prospective efforts to design vaccines to elicit pan-coronavirus immunity.