Guide, SEO Writing

Best Coffee Shops in Raleigh

In a place like Raleigh, you get the best of both worlds: the friendly feel of a small southern town combined with the variety and liveliness of a big city, as befits the state’s capital. Whether you’re a local searching for a new haunt or a tourist needing a boost to power your sightseeing, Raleigh has something for everyone—especially coffee lovers!

Raleigh’s coffee scene is as diverse as the rest of the city. From cozy cafes begging for a rainy day to hip, sunlit modern spaces, you’ll have no shortage of choices when you’re looking for a certain vibe to go with your coffee.

We’ve scoured the city top to bottom to find the best spots, no matter what you’re in the market for. Espresso snob? We’ve got you covered. Digital nomad looking for a workspace? You’ve got options. Big group that needs an even bigger menu? No worries.

Our list will take you on a tour of the finest coffee Raleigh has to offer. Sit back and let us find the perfect match for you!

The Optimist

1000 Brookside Dr STE 109
https://www.theoptimistraleigh.com/

As its name suggests, The Optimist is a pleasant joint, one that serves both coffee and a full menu of breakfast and lunch. A family-operated business, this café opened its doors during the height of the pandemic. “We are optimists, after all,” their website quips.

It’s gone well for them, at least according to their near-perfect rating on Google (166 reviews with 4.7 stars!). Their menu offers everything you’d expect from a reliable coffeeshop and then some. You can stick with your usual cold brew or, if you’re feeling optimistic (and brave), try one of their more unique concoctions, such as the “Bring It On,” a combination of Cheerwine, vanilla, and espresso.

Their sense of humor is obvious in the names of the options on the menu. Hungry? Try the “Hamazon Prime,” a ham sandwich on sourdough, or “The McOptimist,” their own take on the McGriddle.

Sir Walter Coffee

145 East Davie Street
http://sirwaltercoffee.com/

A local institution, Sir Walter Coffee gets its name from the city’s very namesake, Sir Walter Raleigh. With an additional location in Holly Springs, Sir Walter Coffee serves the area with panache and creativity.

Their coffee menu is extensive, from lovingly crafted signatures such as the Espresso Old Fashioned, made with orange bitters and simple syrup, to their own Nitro cold brew. Tea lovers will find a home here too, as will customers looking for a non-traditional option such as kombucha or charcoal lemonade. If you can dream it, Sir Walter serves it!

They have an array of food offerings as well, including waffle and bagel bars—but what really makes Sir Walter stand out is their night menu. In the evenings they transform from just a coffeeshop into a bar, complete with cocktails (with or without coffee).

One standout from the mixed drink menu is the Tiramisu Latte, a hazelnut-almond latte served hot or cold with Frangelico and Oak City Amaretto.

42 & Lawrence

134 E Martin St
https://www.42lawrence.com/

If you’re eco-conscious, 42 & Lawrence might be your go-to cup of joe. They’re highly focused on sustainability and keeping their footprint small. Located right across from Moore Square, they’re committed to serving up excellent coffee and providing a well-rounded café experience.

Down-to-earth and quality-focused, 42 & Lawrence has a menu of reliable favorites with a few seasonal options and specialties thrown in. Their Blue Matcha Latte is an Insta-worthy thing of beauty, and come autumn, their Headless Horseman—a dirty chai with pumpkin, obviously—is not to be missed.

Heirloom

219 S West St
https://www.heirloombrewshop.com/

One of the more unique entries on this list, Heirloom Brew Shop is a cross between a coffeeshop and an East Asian restaurant, serving food from Laos, Taiwan, and Japan. Its sunny dining room is picture-perfect, with a swoop of pale wooden slats rising up to the ceiling, making this stop ideal for tourists who want to document their Raleigh trip through photos or social media.

Come by for a delicious lunch, with options for vegetarians and omnivores alike, including Taiwanese Fried Chicken and Mapo Tofu. Make sure to finish with an order of the mochi donuts with rotating seasonal flavors such as chocolate with candied ginger (they’re vegan, too!).

Or, if you’re just stopping in for a sip, choose from a diverse lineup of coffees, teas, or even sake. Heirloom has something for everyone if you have a group who can’t decide on one thing—they even serve up local draft beers and cocktails. You won’t want to miss this local gem!

Sola

7705 Lead Mine Rd
https://www.solacoffee.com/

Sola is another one of Raleigh’s all-day cafes that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Their toast bar is absolutely mouth-watering, with toppings like blueberry and goat cheese. For our gluten-free friends, they have quite a few items, including scones and coffee cake, though it’s important to note that they are not a certified gluten-free kitchen.

They proudly serve Counter Culture Coffee, based out of Durham, and their unique drinks include “The Bob Ross,” a lavender lemonade with espresso poured on top. They also have a number of juices on offer, for the wellness junkies.

If you’re looking to use Sola as a place to get some work done, though, be advised—they offer wifi all day Monday through Thursday, but Friday afternoon and all of Saturday are a no-wifi zone. They’re closed on Sundays as well.

Brew Coffee Shop

2310 Bale St. Suite 106
http://www.brewcoffeebar.co/

The name says it all: Brew is focused on coffee. While they do offer a limited selection of bakery items, they’re truly all about the brew. Their menu is no-fuss, which matches their clean, minimalist space. If you’re looking for a place where you know exactly what you’re getting, then look no further!

Their menu ranges from a solid cup of drip coffee to a classic mocha. And for those who like a little extra flavor, never fear—their syrups include vanilla, cinnamon, and even rose.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, though, you could always try their Black & Coke, a 10 oz Coca-Cola with vanilla syrup and espresso. And for those who can’t get enough of cold brew, you’re in luck—Brew sells it in half-gallons to take home, along with iced latte and chai batches.

Morning Times

10 E Hargett Street
https://www.morningtimes-raleigh.com/

If you’re looking for a vibe, Morning Times has that in spades. This boho-chic café boasts an upstairs dining space with exposed brick walls that also doubles as an art gallery. It’s a great place to work or catch up with friends.

Their coffee menu is short and sweet, with beloved standards, and plenty of house-made syrup flavors to keep it interesting. Their maple-cinnamon syrup is a particular highlight.

You can’t go wrong with their food menu, either. Their breakfast has a southern flair, with chicken biscuits and a grit bowl for those interested in some down-home charm. But don’t worry, vegetarians, they’ve got you covered too—mock chicken is available to swap out for any meat!

Jubala

8450 Honeycutt Road
http://www.jubalacoffee.com/

Jubala serves coffee with a hefty splash of community focus. Inspired by his experience in Africa, the owner, Andrew, decided to set out on a venture that would enrich his community with compassion and an experience that celebrates the sweetness of everyday life.

Andrew and Jubala are committed to cultivating connections both within Raleigh and without, including their relationships with their farmers, roasters, baristas, and, of course, the customers. The result comes through in their coffee—putting people first means making them a great latte!

You’ll come for the coffee, but you’ll stay for the food. The sweet biscuits are positively sinful, to say nothing of the tomato jam sandwich. Seriously—you’re going to want to try this.

Lucky Tree

3801 Hillsborough Street Suite 137
http://www.luckytreeraleigh.com/

If you’re on the hunt for a slightly different experience, Lucky Tree might be the shop for you. Founded by twin sisters in 2015, it’s designed to give you the sensation of being in a modern treehouse, making its location right across from the JC Raulston Arboretum highly appropriate.

Lucky Tree not only serves coffee and baked goods but acts as a maker’s marketplace as well. Local artists and craftsmen can sell their handmade items here, so this can be a great option if you like to indulge in a little retail therapy while you sip your cappuccino. If you want to try something new, order their Honeysuckle Latte, a matcha sweetened with vanilla and honey.

The store is also a community hub, hosting regular events like open mic nights, along with First Friday celebrations that feature visual artists, live music, and activities. A special stop for locals and visitors alike!

Lucettegrace

235 Salisbury Street
https://lucettegrace.com/

Lucettegrace is more than a coffeeshop—it’s a patisserie. Known for its fresh pastries and rainbow of macarons, it’s named for the owner’s two daughters, Lucette and Grace. He’s a dedicated pastry chef committed to creating a contemporary patisserie experience that’s accented with its French heritage but unique to Raleigh.

And it works. Plan to get more than a café au lait if you come here, because you won’t want to miss the delicacies that they serve fresh every day. Croissants, baguettes, and eclairs are all at home here, and you’ll have more choices than you know what to do with.

Macarons are a staple of this sweet little shop. The flavors change frequently, but past offerings include French Toast, Violet, and Ukrainian Sweet Cream. Don’t worry, you can walk out with a box—or an “Eiffel,” a tower of the colorful cookies—if you want to! (And believe us, you will want to.)

Conclusion

Whether you’re a longtime native to Raleigh, a newcomer, or a tourist, you’re sure to find a coffeeshop that meets your caffeination needs. Raleigh’s coffee scene is packed with delicious options, each with their own mission, focus, and atmosphere.

This list is only a small sample of the best that the City of Oaks has to offer, which is good news for the wayfaring coffee lover. Get out there and meet your new favorite spot!

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