12 Best Coffee Shops in Raleigh, NC: The Complete Guide

On a recent trip to Raleigh, I found myself in a predicament: wanting to experience the most Raleigh has to offer, but also needing to work remotely for my full time job during the week. The answer? Challenging myself to visit as many coffee shops in Raleigh as possible, to figure out which truly reigns superior.

A pink coffee maker at Heirloom Coffee, Tea, and Kitchen.

I only had two days to rise to the challenge, but managed to fit in five coffee shops in the City of Oaks (carefully selected through rigorous searching and review-reading, of course). I’m rounding up my favorite coffee shops in Raleigh, along with a few others that I came across in my digging.

Minimalist Asian coffee shop with text reading "12 Amazing Coffee Shops in Raleigh."

Best Raleigh Coffee Shops

These coffee shops in Raleigh offer something truly unique in the city. They offer everything from whimsical pastries to innovative coffee cocktails.

Whimsical gift shop at Lucky Tree in Raleigh, NC.

Lucky Tree

3801 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27607

Founded by twin sisters and inspired by their neighborhood tree house, Lucky Tree is one of the best coffee shops open late in Raleigh. Located in West Raleigh near the NC State campus, this cute coffee shop offers a wheat-free menu (perfect if you’re looking for a gluten-free cafe in the city).

This coffee shop isn’t just a café, it also has a maker’s market, featuring goods from local artisans. Lucky Tree’s support of the local community doesn’t end there—their drinks are made using beans locally roasted in the Triangle.

For drinks, Lucky Tree has a full coffee bar offering signature coffee drinks including a vanilla maple latte, and honey latte. Tea drinkers will love Lucky Tree’s extensive menu of signature tea drinks, and menu of standard tea, such as a honeysuckle latte made with matcha, milk, vanilla, and honey; gold tea latte including turmeric, cayenne pepper, coconut oil, and ginger; and hippie latte of ground maca root, hazelnut, and agave. Also on the menu are fresh-pressed orange juice, homemade lemonade, and house-made soda in multiple flavors.

I went for the cascara tea: a tea made with the dried cherries of a coffee tree that’s full of antioxidants. I love a tart drink, so it was perfect for me.

Lucky Tree is great for remote work, featuring tons of comfortable couches and seats, along with reliable wifi. It is a louder coffee shop, so keep that in mind if you have meetings or calls.

Lucky Tree is definitely one of the must-go coffee shops in Raleigh for its unique menu and eclectic space. I also loved how friendly everyone there was—I met two local photographers in Raleigh there who approached me when they saw I was shooting.

Coffee and cocktail bar with a marble bar in Raleigh.

Bittersweet

16 E Martin St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Bittersweet isn’t just one of Raleigh’s best coffee shops, it’s also one of the best cocktail bars in the city! This sweet stop is known for its extensive menu of coffee cocktails and other sugary drinks, in addition a full menu of elaborate pies and desserts. I’ve truly never seen so many coffee cocktails on a menu before—the offering goes well beyond your regular espresso martini.

Don’t be fooled, there’s plenty of non-alcoholic coffee to be had here also. The lounge has a full coffee and espresso menu, featuring locally roasted beans from Counter Culture Coffee in Durham. You can pair your drink with a dessert off of Bittersweet’s all-natural, locally sourced, seasonal menu.

Bittersweet may not open quite as early as your typical coffee shop, but does open much earlier than a regular bar. Stop by from 2pm Wednesday through Saturday, and 12pm on Sunday. The space has a comfortable lounge feel, perfect for enjoying a cup.

This lounge is one of my favorite spots in Raleigh. It is an absolute must-go, and perfect for date night, or a girls’ night!

Idle Hour Coffee exterior sign in Oberlin, Raleigh.
Coffee bar menu and counter at Idle Hour Coffee Roasters.

Idle House Coffee Roasters

1818 Oberlin Rd #103, Raleigh, NC 27608

One of the newest addition’s to the coffee scene in Raleigh, Idle House Coffee Roasters is a cute coffee shop with a welcoming, neighborhood feel. The coffee shop is located in Raleigh’s Oberlin neighborhood, near the Five Points.

Idle Hour Coffee is best known for their iced Vietnamese coffee and oh-so-Instagram-worthy pastries (think mushroom shaped confectionary), but offers a robust coffeehouse menu consisting of chai latte, cappuccino, mocha, macchiato, Americano, and more. If you’re craving something savory instead of sweet, Idle Hour also serves up bánh mì.

Like Bittersweet, Idle Hour prioritizes serving coffee and tea from local roasters, including Tin Roof Teas, Methodical Roasters, Arteo Matcha, and Lyrix Kombucha. Many of the coffee bar’s popular pastries also come from local sources, such as Tepuy Donuts, Union Special Bakery, and Little Blue Macaron.

If you’re a non-coffee drinker, don’t worry! Idle House Coffee Roasters has a healthy tea menu as well, with several interesting options. I kept it classic and went with an iced green jasmine tea (mostly because I was craving a trà đá, and it was the closest thing).

Idle Hour Coffee is one of the best coffee shops in Raleigh for remote work. There’s tons of comfortable couch and booth seating, in addition to high top bar seating, and regular tables. Wifi is relatively reliable. I will caveat by saying that because Idle Hour Coffee Roasters is so popular, it can get noisy. Bring noise cancelling headphones, and don’t expect to take meetings there.

Gray lucettegrace bakery exterior and lime green sign in Downtown Raleigh.
A baklava croissant from lucettegrace.

lucettegrace

235 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27601

lucettegrace is a charming French patisserie, café, and coffee shop in Downtown Raleigh. The bakery is best known for their baklava croissant, but trust me when I say that it will be difficult to not by tempted by their other pastries and desserts! For the lunch crowd, lucettegrace offers a small menu of sandwiches and salads.

For drinks, you’ll not only find coffee bar staples on the menu such as espresso, cold brew, café au lait, and drip coffee, but also tons of non-coffee drinks as well. Tea drinkers will love that lucettegrace offers a variety of tea, a chai latte, Lebanese iced tea, and even an agua fresca.

I can confirm that the baklava croissant is wonderful, but what I loved most about lucettegrace wasn’t their menu itself, but the fact that they were so remote work friendly. The spacious café offered tons of outlets for charging, in addition to fast wifi. The password was posted around the space and made obvious—no need to ask for it. Surprisingly, the café wasn’t all that busy making it a calm, quiet space to work for the morning.

Minimalist Asian coffee shop in Downtown Raleigh.

Heirloom – Coffee, Tea, Kitchen

219 S West St, Raleigh, NC 27603

One of the most popular coffee shops in Raleigh, Heirloom is an aesthetic, minimalist coffee shop, sake bar, and tea house in Downtown Raleigh. Heirloom brings together the culture of Laos, Taiwan, and Japan for a truly unique coffee shop in Raleigh. 

Heirloom isn’t just known for their drinks and pink, photo-worthy space. The Instagram hotspot was named one of Bon Appetit’s Top 50 restaurants of 2019, for their Laotian and Taiwanese dishes. Heirloom also features limited edition, seasonal Asian pastries, including mooncakes and mochi donuts.

Keeping it local, Heirloom proudly serves Durham’s Little Waves Coffee. To customize your drink, you can add in Heirloom’s house-made syrups, such as Ginger Rosewater, Yuzu, and Brown Sugar Five Spice.

As a tea house, Heirloom as no shortage of options for those who don’t drink coffee. The extensive tea menu features picks of Asian origin, including Jasmine and Orchid Oolong teas from Taiwan, Sakura and Hojicha teas from Japan, and Puerh from China, amongst others. Heirloom also offers speciality tea beverages like a matcha latter, a collaboration drink with Updog Kombucha, and Xieng Khouang “Lao Fog” Latte, a Lao tea brewed over sweetened condensed milk, and finished with steamed milk.

Heirloom is one of my favorite coffee shops in Raleigh. Not only is it adorable, the airy space is great for working remotely, and the wifi is relatively fast and reliable for a public network. Although the space was busy, it really wasn’t loud, filled mostly with other remote works and the occasional set of friends.

Yellow high top stools at a coffee shop and bakery in Raleigh.

More Coffee Shops in Raleigh

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to visit the below coffee shops in Raleigh myself. I came across the below cafés in my research, and they all come with high customer reviews:

Sola Coffee Cafe

7705 Lead Mine Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615

Home of the Instagrammable “I believe in Raleigh” mural, Sola Coffee Cafe is a family-owned coffee shop and café. This community-forward spot serves up breakfast and lunch menus made of locally sourced, fresh organic ingredients. The café accommodates both gluten-free and vegetarian dietary restrictions.  The menu is really well priced—an egg sandwich will run you just $4.

Lovers of avocado toast will obsess over Sola’s Toast Bar. Using bread from local bakeries, Boulted Bread and Yellow Dog Bread Co., the toast bar offers two different types of avocado toast, smoked salmon toast, strawberry toast, and more.

For coffee, Sola offers a robust drink menu, including cortado, flat white, and pour over coffee, to name a few. The coffee shop has several options for non-coffee drinkers, including a wide assortment of hot tea, iced tea, and chai. Most notable about Sola Coffee Cafe’s drink menu are the juice bar, and selection of smoothies, smoothie bowls. The coffee shop offer many more smoothie and juice options than other coffee shops in Raleigh. If you’re looking to imbibe, Sola also offers a small beer and wine list.

It’s worth noting that although Sola Coffee Cafe stands out from the crowd with its impressive food menu and fresh ingredients, Sola may not be the best option for those looking to get work done. The cafe has set wifi hours, only offering wifi from 1pm on weekdays, and not offering it on Saturdays at all. Sola Coffee Cafe also closes earlier than many coffee shops in Raleigh, closing its doors at 3pm daily.

Sola Coffee Cafe is a local business in Raleigh with a purpose. The cafe donates to eight charities each month, supporting causes such as protecting people in poverty from violence, combatting local homelessness, ending hunger, and offering kids with cancer opportunities to play.

Sir Walter Coffee

145 E Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Sir Walter Coffee describes itself as a “downtown barista bar.” The coffee shop doesn’t limit itself to coffeehouse classics, also offering coffee and tea cocktails (with or without alcohol).

The coffee menu features drinks including nitro cold brew cans, Vietnamese iced coffee, French press, and a caramel macchiato. Sir Walter’s coffee menu also features more imaginative signature drinks, such as a coffee julep, and an espresso old fashioned.

Sir Walter Coffee’s cocktail menu includes tea cocktails, classic cocktails, and coffee cocktails. Coffee cocktails range from tried and true favorites such as the espresso martini and Irish coffee, and Sir Walter Coffee-originals such as the Tiramisu Latte. The bar also features a healthy beer list, and a few wine options as well.

Food at this downtown hotspot mostly consists of specialty toasts, such as the caprese toast and berry toast, alongside breakfast favorites like bagel sandwiches and overnight oats. If you arrive before 1pm, you’ll be able to enjoy Sir Walter Coffee’s waffle bar.

Black & White Coffee, at Videri Chocolate Factory

327 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Videri Chocolate Factory is a popular stop in Downtown Raleigh for their award-winning artisan chocolates. This popular chocolate factory isn’t just home to some of Raleigh’s best chocolate, but also Black and White Cafe’s second location.

Black and White Coffee Roasters is owned by two US Barista champions. The café at Videri serves up B&W’s quality beans in an airy, bright space. Both the coffee drinks, like the mocha, and pastries use Videri chocolate. If you’re looking to up your coffee game at home, you can pick up a bag of Black & White’s beans at the shop.

Noteworthy at Black & White Cafe is the spacious patio space, and free parking—tough to come by in Downtown Raleigh. The coffee shop is a great pick if you’re in the neighborhood and looking to grab a coffee while out and about, but may not be the best for working remotely. Reviewers have mentioned that wifi can be unreliable and slow.

Jubala Coffee

North Raleigh: 8450 Honeycutt Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615

Hillsborough St: 2100 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27607

North Hills: 200 Park at N Hills St Suite 140, Raleigh, NC 27609

With three locations in Raleigh, Jubala Coffee has become a stable in Raleigh’s coffee scene. Featuring both locally roasted and internationally sourced beans, the coffee chain is one for the coffee aficionado.

I’ve never seen a coffee milkshake on a coffee shop menu, until Jubala! The coffee shop’s Homeland milkshake is made of two scoops of Homeland vanilla ice cream, two shots of espresso, and chocolate syrup. Aside from the Homeland milkshake, you’ll find coffee and tea classics.

Jubala’s food menu goes above and beyond your average Starbucks: you’ll find a wide menu of sweet biscuits made from scratch, as well as several Belgian Liège waffle options, in addition to sandwiches, granola, oatmeal, and baked goods.

Coffee at Iris Coffee Lab in Raleigh, NC.
Image: Iris Coffee Lab

Iris Coffee Lab

725 Tucker St, Raleigh, NC 27603

Iris Coffee Lab opened its doors just a few years ago, after realizing that Raleigh’s Glenwood South neighborhood was going unserved by local coffee shops. 

Since then, the coffee shop has grown to be one of Raleigh’s most well-reviewed local coffee bars, serving up traditional coffee favorites, alongside more unique approaches such as the cherry-marzipan latte and rosemary latte. Non-coffee drinkers will find seasonal tea, and tea lattes such as the London Fog and a blue matcha latte. Iris Coffee Lab also partners with local farmers and roasters on robust seasonal menus, further highlighting their barista’s talent and craftsmanship.

For food, customers can look forward to a breakfast menu consisting of several bagel sandwiches, and a lunch menu of sandwiches, toasts, and spreads.

Baristas at 321 Coffee in Raleigh.
Image: 321 Coffee

321 Coffee

North Carolina State Farmers Public Market: Market Shoppes Slot 48, 1209 Farmers Market Dr, Raleigh, NC 27603

Downtown Raleigh: 615 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27603

Winner of Oatly’s Big Idea Grant for Coffee!, 321 Coffee boasts being “people-focused coffee.” The popular chain of coffee shops in the Triangle employs 50+ employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities across their three locations in Raleigh-Durham.

321 Coffee’s first location is located in Raleigh’s popular North Carolina State Farmer’s Market. Their most recent location, in Downtown Raleigh, not only offers 321 Coffee’s brewed beverages, but bags of their signature barista-roasted beans. 321 Coffee roasts its own beans on a Loring S15 Falcon. Beans are sourced from Honduras, Guatemala, and Colombia in direct-trade relationships aimed to empower coffee farmers and their communities.

Pine State Coffee

1614 Automotive Way, Raleigh, NC 27604

Pine State Coffee is a locally owned coffee roaster in Raleigh, with a cozy, cabin-like cafe. The wood-clad space serves up a limited menu of essential coffee drinks, such as drip coffee, cappuccino, cold brew, cortado, espresso, and macchiato. This is a coffee shop for coffee drinkers: tea options are a little more limited than other coffee shops in Raleigh.

In addition to coffee, Pine State Coffee also offers beer, cider, and both regular and gluten-free pastries from JP Pastries.

Pine State Coffee is more than a coffee shop: this café also repairs bikes, and sells running gear.

Reviewers call Pine State Coffee a hidden local gem in Raleigh. The coffee shop regularly receives glowing reviews for its high quality coffee, fantastic service, and comfortable space. If you can’t make it to Pine State Coffee’s flagship Downtown Raleigh location while you’re in town, don’t fret—their locally roasted beans are sold and brewed at markets, beverage shops, and breweries across the city.

French pastries, croissants, and kouign-amanns in a pastry case.

Looking for more of the best restaurants and bars around the world? Click the links below:

16 Trendy Cocktail Bars in Raleigh for a Night Out

14 Best Trendy Date Night Restaurants in the Twin Cities

19 Best Restaurants in Marrakech, Morocco

17 Amazing Places to Eat in Saigon, Vietnam

xx,
E

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Collage graphic of Heirloom, Idle Hour Coffee Roasters, Bittersweet, and Lucky Tree coffee shops with text "Best Coffee Shops in Raleigh."
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1 Comment

  1. Shelby
    January 9, 2024 / 1:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, Eva! I’m looking forward to my visit to Raleigh.

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