Raleigh’s Locals’ Guide to the 16 Greatest Coffee Shops of 2024

In Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, you’re looking for the best coffee shops to meet for a coffee date or to have a coffee while working, according to your “coffee preference?” Caleb and I have a deep passion for coffee, and we’ve been in Raleigh long enough to be familiar with both the best places to buy it and some hidden treasures that most people don’t tell you about.

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One of these coffee shops in Raleigh, North Carolina, provides something for everyone, regardless of whether you enjoy strong, black coffee (like Caleb), smooth and light coffee (like me), or a unique flavor combination!

Raleigh's Locals' Guide to the 16 Greatest Coffee Shops of 2024

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Coffee Shops in Raleigh, North Carolina

1. 321 Cups of Coffee

This multi-location coffee business is one of my faves in downtown Raleigh! They hire individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to provide employment opportunities to everybody in a friendly environment. The business exudes a pleasant aura, and the employees’ Polaroids are displayed throughout!

Their coffee tastes amazing, on top of their success! It’s smooth but bold, and they have some very unique seasonal specials. On a hot day in North Carolina, I was content to drink the cold Nitro beer!

We believe this is an excellent place for an “afternoon coffee date” because there is only one ledge around the wall. The small coffee shop’s seats are rapidly filled. I would not recommend this place for work because a large portion of the seats are outdoors and unsheltered. Aside from the restricted menu (a few pre-made sandwiches and pastries), it’s a nice location to have a muffin and a cup of coffee and discuss life’s challenges!

Although the downtown location is handy, it is extremely congested, with limited parking options limited to the $2 garage located a short two-minute walk away or on the street.

615 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27603.

Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

2. 42nd and Lawrence

This establishment, which is well-known for experimenting with novel coffee products in its coffee laboratory, is situated downtown at the intersection of Moore Street Park. The air in this store is fresh and clean, and the customer service has always been top-notch! The baristas are courteous!

We adore 42 & Lawrence because they have a variety of mimosas, beer, cider, wine, and coffee flights (I know, I know), making it the perfect place to go on a date night when you don’t want to be in a crowded pub.

In contrast to other businesses in the region, they use Larry’s coffee beans, which have a distinct flavor. The coffee (and wi-fi!) are robust. The baked products are excellent; arrive early to avoid missing the cinnamon buns, which disappear rapidly!

The company’s largest drawback is its small size, which means there isn’t much seating and that weekends are hectic. Due to the location’s significance in the downtown area, parking is limited to the street, and coffee prices may be high.

134 East Martin Street, Raleigh, NC 2760.

7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

3. Iris Coffee Lab

One of the greatest places to work in downtown Raleigh is this coffee shop. There are many workstations available, good WiFi, and excellent food options to choose from. In addition to little baked items, they provide a variety of breakfast and lunch options, such as AMAZING bagels and sandwiches. A popular combination of bacon, egg and cheese, scallion cream cheese, and spicy honey drizzle is the ‘hotshot bagel’.

For those with dietary restrictions, they also provide vegan and gluten-free baked products, so don’t worry! They also offer lighter choices!

It feels more like a place to work because of the all-white, modern design, which is less warm and inviting than other coffee shops where you can just sit and speak all day.

Only street parking is available, and it becomes full quickly, so be sure to factor that in when making travel plans.

In comparison to other places, the coffee is a tad bitter, but it’s still good. I enjoy working with the other “co-working people” at Iris Coffee Lab and enjoying a cup of coffee. Because it’s so well-liked by the community, come there early to grab a bagel and coffee before going to work!

725 Tucker Street, Raleigh, NC 27603.

Daily hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

4. Lucettegrace

Named for the owner’s two daughters, this coffee business doubles as a bakery and café offering breakfast and lunch, along with French-style pastries and desserts!

For the ideal sweet companion, I would forego the sugary drinks in favor of a black coffee along with some deliciously flavored macrons, such as birthday cake or pistachio raspberry rose! The popular favorite curry chicken salad sandwich is available even in a lunchbox for takeaway if you’re headed out for lunch.

Due to its downtown location, this coffee shop, like the others in the group, only offers paid street parking. Additionally, while it’s a popular spot among locals like me, obtaining a seat on weekends might be challenging due to its tiny size!

235 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27601.

Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

5. The New York Times

Residents love this establishment so much that lines form out the door during peak hours. It’s one of their favorite downtown destinations. Since its opening in 2006, this small coffee shop in downtown Raleigh has focused on offering locally produced goods (such as hormone-free eggs) and has partnered with Counter Culture Coffee.

The Morning Times is a terrific place to work, unwind, and people-watch. For those moments when you want to put things off but still take in some culture, they have an enormous upstairs with stone walls, plenty of work tables, and an art gallery. Dogs are welcome on the nice outside terrace. It is worth noting that trees cover the whole area.

The coffee tastes great on its own. When I gave it a try, I thought, “Dang, that’s good.” When it comes to sampling coffee, I’m not ashamed. They also serve a range of lunch salads and sandwiches, including vegan alternatives, and genuine foods like house-made bagels and croissants. They also sell baked items that are gluten-free and vegan.

Despite its name, the “Morning Times” is open late and serves creative cocktails and beer. The perfect place for a workday, a coffee date in the afternoon, or an evening coffee/alcohol date!

10 East Hargett Street, Raleigh, NC 27601.

Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

6. Sir Walter Coffee

In the center of downtown, Sir Walter is a classy yet vibrant coffee shop that is often filled. Their “anti-vision” when they first began was to differentiate their business from the typical coffee shop. The white walls, potted plants, and Instagram style are recognizable to you. They nailed it, which is why they made our list of the greatest coffee shops in Raleigh, I must say!

With distinctive products like coffee with ginger and heavy cream, they take pride in their coffee and use the tagline “Creatively Caffeinated” to describe it. I like that they provide toast and coffee options that are according to the season.

They provide a variety of breakfast choices and a cocktail menu for those who would like to stop by for a happy hour or a post-date drink. You should never have any trouble finding a seat when you visit because there is plenty of space both inside and outside!

You’ll feel perfectly at home if you come by yourself because there’s fast wi-fi and many of the other locals who work here.

145 East Davie Street, Raleigh, NC 27601.

Monday: 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday: 7 a.m.-8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday: 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

7. Bittersweet

Bittersweet is a coffee, dessert, and cocktail bar featuring seasonal, all-natural cuisine. You can have champagne with cake or bourbon with pie, so this is a great location to visit!

Bittersweet offers a comprehensive coffee and espresso menu including Counter Culture Coffee beans, along with a seasonal menu that rotates four times a year to emphasize local dishes. An increasingly popular option is the espresso martini, which is distinguished by its distinct flavor!

They offer over 80 different gins and specialize in gin beverages, which is what I like to do if neither of you likes coffee! Remember that they don’t take bookings, so make plans if you’re bringing a big group! They advise getting there early.

16 E Martin Street, Raleigh, NC 27601.

Wednesday and Thursday: 2 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 2 p.m.-12 a.m., and Sunday: 12 p.m.-11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday are closed.

8. Heirloom Brew Shop

Though Heirloom is tucked away from the bustle of downtown Raleigh, it is nonetheless conveniently close to a lot of the city’s attractions. It’s also close to the train station, which makes it a great place to stop for a quick meal or pre-train dinner.

It’s a little off of the way, so the atmosphere is nicer and more laid back than it is at other places. With large windows and an abundance of natural light, the interior is spacious and light-filled. Because of this, it’s the perfect spot to work or have a meaningful conversation while sipping a robust, smooth cup of coffee made by a small-batch roaster nearby.

Heirloom is a sake bar that offers specialized coffee and tea, draft beers, inventive cocktails, and small plates with Asian influences. Give the gluten-free mochi donuts a try for a distinctive coffee experience!

If you’re looking for something different from the typical fare found in coffee shops, this is a must-see because of all this fascinating stuff!

219 South West Street, Raleigh, NC 27603.

Daily hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

9. Black And White Coffee At Videri Chocolate Factory

Oh, the aroma of chocolate and coffee together! Entering Black & White Coffee, located inside the Videri Chocolate Factory, gives you exactly that.

Not only are the scents brilliant, but Black and White also make excellent coffee! On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, they roast their coffee beans, which you may sip in a clean, light-filled indoor setting.

Take an iced coffee (and chocolate!) and stroll to the outdoor patio for a conversation on a pleasant day. There’s a limited variety of pastries along with amazing deals and seasonal beverages on the entire coffee bar menu. As with other downtown choices, you will need to find paid street parking if you are driving!

327 W. Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601.

Monday-Friday: 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

10. Sosta

Oh my goodness, I discovered such a hidden treasure downtown! The meaning of the term “Sosta” is “a restful break,” which is exactly what the cafe’s owner, Jerome, intended when he founded it. This made sense because, as his native France is, the pace of life there is slower than ours!

Sosta is nice and quiet, with lots of areas for working or simply hanging out and chatting because it’s not that crowded. Since the proprietor prefers to spend his nights at home with his family, they place a great priority on lunch here. (Very European, that!) They provide delicious sandwiches and salads, with vegetarian and vegan choices available.

Fast service is provided, and both coffee and the internet are robust. I witnessed a woman order and receive her lunch in less than five minutes when I was working there. Once more, street parking is the only option, but since this is, in my opinion, one of Raleigh’s greatest coffee shops, it’s worth traveling about to locate some.

130 E Davie St, #1806, Raleigh, NC 27601.

Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

11. Bad Cat Coffee

This is not a “sit down” coffee shop in Raleigh, North Carolina; rather, it is located inside the Morgan Street Food Fall. But if you need caffeine on the go for a day date or a road trip from Raleigh to Asheville, Bad Cat Coffee is the way to go, especially when combined with our list of road trip questions for couples. Additionally, they provide unique beverages such oat dirty chai lattes and lavender coffee.

You can even have crepes for the morning if you’re really hungry. The berries and cream pancake, along with the banana, strawberry, and Nutella pancake, are audience favorites!

Morgan Street Food Hall is located at 411 W. Morgan St, Raleigh, NC 27603.

Daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

12. Layered Croissanterie

The aroma of coffee and butter croissants! Maybe this will transport you to the streets of Paris. (That’s fairly close.) This is more of a bakery serving contemporary takes on classic French pastries. But they also produce incredible lattes (like their purple matcha latte) and other unusual foods like their cruffin, which is a cross between a croissant and a muffin.

They also have seasonal flavors, so it’s interesting to try them all as they change with the seasons. Since Caleb loves pastries so much, we like this little hidden gem in Raleigh!

911 North West St, Suite 107, Raleigh, NC 27603.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Monday and Tuesday are closed.

13. Nora Cafe

Residents of North Raleigh love this peaceful cafe for getting away from it all, reading, or getting together for coffee. They have hundreds of titles to peruse, and you can even purchase Dog-Eared novels for just $1! Their partner, Carrboro Coffee Roasters, supplies the coffee beans.

I want my Liege waffles from NoRa to be prepared using brioche toast and dusted with pearl sugar. I’m infatuated with Liege waffles, as you may remember from our trip to Charlotte, so why not have one with my coffee? Devoted.

Not feeling like having coffee? They provide wine and beer, which makes this the perfect place for a laid-back date during the day or evening!

Raleigh, NC 27613, 12333 Strickland Rd.

Daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

14. Sola Coffee Shop

Since 2012, the family-run coffee and espresso shop Sola in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been providing strong and velvety Counter Culture Coffee. They provide a variety of freshly made dishes, such as their well-known breakfast sandwiches, which are also available on gluten-free bread! They also provide healthier substitutes and pastries free of gluten.

NOTICE: Wi-Fi is not accessible on Saturdays and is unavailable Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

7705 Lead Mine Road, Raleigh, NC 27615.

Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

15. Cup A Joe

Situated close to NC University, Cup A Joe is a unique café offering an extensive menu of specialty coffee drinks, all produced with house-roasted beans. Students attending college frequently congregate there. When choosing a location, bear in mind that coffee that has been roasted locally is typically darker in color.

We like Cup a Joe because you can purchase their beans and have them freshly roasted, sent the same day, and delivered. Hi there, sweet, freshly brewed coffee!

BONUS:  There’s free parking at the rear!

145 East Davie Street, Raleigh, NC 27601.

Daily from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

16. Benelux

The proprietor fell in love with thick Belgian waffles while on vacation in Belgium, which is where Benelux had its start. You’ll find kick-butt waffles here if that’s your thing! In addition, they roast their coffee in tiny quantities as soon as it is delivered to the store, which results in delicious coffee. Additionally, they provide some unusual flavor combinations, such as honey lavender matcha.

It is not extremely noisy, and there is plenty of space to sit and work or talk. Parking could be hard to come by because of the location in the well-known village area. Parking and walking might be necessary, but just for a short while!

402 Oberlin Rd, #118, Raleigh, NC 27605.

Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Raleigh's Locals' Guide to the 16 Greatest Coffee Shops of 2024

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Wrap-Up: Raleigh’s Best Coffee Shops

It will be difficult to select just one Raleigh coffee shop because there are so many of them, so we suggest visiting many! You’ll be able to locate the ideal coffee shop, regardless of your preferences—black, strong coffee, a softer latte, or something completely different!

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