Coffee shops are my happy place. I love the atmosphere, the creativity, and, of course, the drinks and treats. Will and I go on coffee shop dates more often than evening dates, and always aim to support our local coffee shops when we aren’t brewing our own caffeinated drinks at home. There are so many great local coffee shops around the Triangle with more and more popping up all the time. I’m excited to share our list of favorites here today and I hope you can try some of them and find a favorite of your own!
I didn’t note this in each blurb, but most of these coffee shops serve Durham-based Counter Culture Coffee or Carrboro based Carrboro Coffee Roasters Coffee. It is always fun to see local businesses supporting each other, and there is no shortage of that in the Triangle.
Sola Coffee Cafe
Sola is one of my family’s favorites and a great family-owned and run shop. Located in an unassuming strip mall, Sola opened after I left for college, but we’ve been there often enough to make up for lost time. The owners and baristas know my parents and are always so friendly. Our favorites are the Sola shake (ah-mazing), London fog, cinnamon sugar hot minis, and the toast bar. Beware, everyone in town loves Sola so it can get very crowded, especially on Saturdays. Check it out early for your best first experience. They often host local maker markets on Saturday mornings – check their social media for updates.
Don’t miss: The Sola shake, toast bar, cinnamon sugar hot minis, London fog (Earl Grey tea latte with vanilla), flat white
Jubala is a Raleigh coffee shop staple. They have two locations, and their coffee creations are also served at Benchwarmer Bagels in Transfer Food Hall in collaboration with Boulted Bread (yes, you should check that out too). I am a sucker for their excellent branding and their delicious food and drinks. The house-made biscuits, waffles, and loaf breads are always amazing and the flavors change with the seasons. Bonus: they offer free espresso every Friday! Check out their Instagram Stories for the details each week.
Don’t miss: The loaf breads, biscuits, liege waffles (amazing), and almond latte
Heirloom Brewshop is a newer coffee shop in Raleigh. The aesthetically pleasing shop covered in light pink, soft white, tall windows, green plants, and a wood boned ceiling opened in the warehouse district in October 2018. My family and I had been exploring the area in August before the shop opened and peeked into the window to see what was coming. Anna, one of the very kind founders, happened to be in the unfinished shop and invited us in to see the progress. Even in it’s progress state it was beautiful, and is even better now that it is complete. Besides providing a wonderfully calming atmosphere, their unique tea and coffee drinks are delicious. I had the ginger rosewater latte last time I went and was absolutely in my happy place.
Don’t miss: The seasonal lattes (they are always changing, but ginger rose and Thai tea were amazing)
Fount Coffee + Kitchen
I’ll admit, Fount is technically in Morrisville, but it is sandwiched between Raleigh and Durham, so this still seemed like an appropriate place to feature it. Opening in December 2018, Fount is fairly new to the Triangle coffee scene, but has quickly made a big mark. Their sleek coffee bar design, Instagrammable wooden benches and wall of plants under the “Come as You Are” wall, complete with glass garage doors that open up when the weather is nice makes for an amazing environment for coffee sipping. All of their food is gluten free, but you wouldn’t know it! We ran on our high school cross country and track teams with one of the owners of this shop – if you stop by, tell Kristen I said hi!
Don’t miss: The chai tea latte and the stacks (toasts)
Bean Traders was always a meetup spot for my college friends after we graduated and moved to different corners of the Triangle. Right off of the highway near Southpoint mall, it is convenient from Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh. They roast their own coffee beans and make their syrups in-house, which makes for delicious seasonal lattes (I’m looking at you, pumpkin spice). Besides coffee, they make a variety of other drinks including milkshakes and smoothies. Their tea clouds are delicious if that is more your speed (try the lavender vanilla), and they offer a plethora of house-made food options for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or snacks. There is plenty of outdoor seating, which is helpful because the indoor seating is almost always full.
Don’t miss: The pumpkin spice latte (in the fall), and the lavender Earl Grey tea cloud
Cocoa Cinnamon is a Durham classic. Now with three locations across the city, you’re never too far from a Cocoa Cinnamon in Bull City. They have some interesting latte flavors that honestly aren’t my favorite, but the sipping chocolate is amazing – like a bar of melted chocolate in a cup. There’s a reason the name includes “cocoa,” I guess. The Geer Street location has a fun indoor-outdoor area when the weather is nice, and the Lakewood location offers freshly made churros alongside their micro-roastery that provides coffee to all locations.
Don’t miss: The sipping chocolate
East Durham Bake Shop
East Durham Bake Shop opened in April 2018, but started out as a home-kitchen pie company years before before opening their brick-and-mortar shop. With it’s soft green paint, chalkboards, and black, white, and wood accents, it is looks like a great combination of vintage classroom and relaxing coffee shop. They are known for their pies, which often sell out around the holiday season, but their croissants and pastries are also delicious. All of their baked goods are made in-house and it is fun to see the mixing and rolling of doughs behind the counter as you order. One of my favorite things about East Durham Bake Shop is their commitment to the community and to the environment. They source many of their ingredients, coffee, and tea from suppliers and farmers in Durham and the Triangle, compost their food waste and provide compostable and recyclable packaging, and provide a living wage to their workers. We loved their “Just Because” board – a bulletin board near the register where visitors can pay for a drink or treat, write a handwritten note, and leave it on the board for someone else. Other patrons who may need a lift can take that note from the board when they visit and use it, kind of like a gift card for that one item from a stranger. You can’t help but be filled with happiness and gratitude when you see this board full of generosity and kindness from others.
Don’t miss: The chocolate croissants, morning buns, and a slice of pie
Chapel Hill and Carrboro
Perennial Coffee Shop
Perennial is one of my favorite coffee shops in town. Close to UNC with a great aesthetic, locally sourced baked goods and drink ingredients, it is a great place to support local vendors and get that Instagram photo all in one go. My favorite drink here is the honey cappuccino, but if you’re looking for something especially unique, try the rosemary or mint lattes.
Don’t miss: The honey cappuccino, rosemary latte, iced mint latte, or $0.99 drip Counter Culture Coffee before 8:00 am on weekdays
Open Eye Cafe
Open Eye is a common Chapel Hill/Carrboro coffee shop destination. The large local coffee shop is a popular place for UNC students to study and townies to get a freshly roasted cup on their way to work or a glass of wine in the evenings. With Carrboro Coffee Roastery in the back of the shop, you can sometimes get a whiff of the fresh coffee beans that are served to you in the front of the store. They have a wide selection of loose teas, if you prefer that, and their seasonal drinks are always on point. As the name would suggest, Open Eye is one of the last coffee shops to close at night, and no matter the weather, they somehow manage to stay open. This was our go-to for hot chocolate on snow days, when the rest of the town seems to shut down.
Don’t miss: The hot chocolate, large list of loose leaf teas, and the coffee bean roaster in the back. If you’re in the mood for a cold drink, ask if they can make the Driade shake. It’s not on the menu, but sometimes they can make it for you anyway.
Honeysuckle Tea House
Open only Fridays – Sundays during the summer months, you have a short period of time to enjoy Honeysuckle Tea House. Even with the quick timeline, Honeysuckle is worth checking out if you are around, and especially if you are a tea-lover in the sea of coffee shops. Located a short drive away from the hubbub of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, the tea house is open-air building that feels like a tree house on the edge of farm fields. They have herb and berry gardens that you can wander through while you sip your tea and listen to live music that is often playing in the evenings.
Don’t miss: The large selection of teas and live music in the evening
Honeysuckle Cafe & Bar
Honeysuckle Cafe & Bar is owned by the local Honeysuckle Tea House a few minutes down the road, just outside of town. It is a popular spot for locals on pretty days and Farmers’ Market Saturdays. Get the Dutchess (my favorite, a lavender Earl Grey tea latte), or the Mayan hot chocolate for a twist, or try one of their teas made from tea leaves and herbs grown on their nearby farm.
Don’t miss: The lavender Earl Grey tea latte and the Mayan hot chocolate
This one deserves an honorary mention, and only honorary because it is difficult to get to if you aren’t on UNC’s campus. Nestled in the health sciences library amidst all of the health sciences buildings and the hospital, Friends’ Cafe is always busy with students, doctors, and UNC employees. They offer delicious treats from Ninth Street Bakery in Durham (the chocolate chip walnut scone and banana chocolate chip ball are my favorites), and the baristas are always kind. Friends’ was always a great getaway during my lunch breaks, and while it’s not your classic coffee shop for the public (though anyone is welcome), I can’t bear to leave it off the list.
Don’t miss: The Counter Culture drip coffee, oat milk latte, and chocolate chip walnut scones
Guglhupf Bake Shop
Guglhupf Bake Shop also gets an honorary mention because it is more focused on bake shop than coffee shop, but their baked goods are amazingly delicious and pair so well with their coffee. Seating inside is limited, but if it is nice outside, snag a table on the patio and savor your pastry and drink.
Don’t miss:The almond schnecke, croissants, and seasonal eclairs
There are so many good options in the Triangle, and the scene just keeps growing. I hope you like these and can’t wait to see what you try!
Cocoa Cinnamon photo by Bit and Grain, first Open Eye photo from their Instagram, all other photos are my own.
Your list is spot on and is making me long for the Triangle again. We moved overseas from the Triangle in June 2018, right when a few of these places were taking off. Poor timing on our part! Can’t wait to check them out when I come home for a visit. In the meantime, will definitely be sharing this list with everyone I know. ☺️