If you’re plugging the word “Starbucks” into your GPS for your next coffee fix, you’re missing out. Coffee gurus are busy turning Charlotte into a hotspot for craft coffee and local roasts.
To make sure you know where to get your local coffee fix in every corner of town, add these eight stops to your list:
(1) HEX Coffee
First hitting the scene as a pop-up café that brought people together in unfamiliar places, HEX Coffee in South End now brings people together with familiar coffees, and an emphasis on espresso. There’s plenty of experimentation, too, for a hint of the unfamiliar, from shandies to matcha-based beverages.
HEX Coffee: 125 Remount Road
(2) Trade and Lore Coffee
This is the place to go in NoDa if you want to know what innovation tastes like. Drinks range from flash-chilled nitro tea, to iced coffee with seltzer and edible flower garnishes, to signature drinks mixed with syrups and bitters. Not to be overlooked: The plants dangling from the skylight and the cozy corner nook with bright pillows and couch seating.
Trade and Lore Coffee: 3306 N. Davidson St.
(3) Not Just Coffee
Across its quickly expanding reach of locations from Uptown to South End, couple-owned Not Just Coffee slings everything from pour overs to espresso beverages (with exquisite latte art) in bright and airy spaces. They’re known for hosting occasional latte art competitions and for rolling out a cold brew bike for a quick fix on the go.
Not Just Coffee:Locations include 224 E 7th St., 222 S Church St. and 2000 South Blvd.
(4) CupLux Coffee Drive-Thru
When you’re on the move and not looking for a sit-down experience, check out Charlotte’s first drive-thru-only craft coffee shop in west Charlotte. The menu is curated around convenience to cater to commuters and includes drip coffee, espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, nitro cold-brew on draft, Lenny Boy Brewing Co. kombucha and pastries. The name “CupLux” hints at the luxury that goes into craft coffee making — and drinking. It’s short for “cupping luxury.”
CupLux Coffee Drive-Thru: 3115 Freedom Dr.
(5) Brakeman’s Coffee & Supply
This small-town stop in Matthews was envisioned to be an intentional space for slowing down, indulging in coffee and congregating for conversations. It even reflects in the business name — the role of the brakeman in a train caboose is to slow down the vehicle. The space features beans from Methodical Coffee out of Greenville, S.C., and Summit Coffee Co. out of Davidson, with HEX Coffee in Charlotte as a highlighted brand. Slow down with drip coffee, Americanos, cappuccinos or lattes.
Brakeman’s Coffee & Supply: 225 N. Trade St., Matthews
(6) Rush Espresso
Rush is one of the few independent coffee shops to drop by in south Charlotte, so take advantage. The café and wine bar offers a selection of international coffee, teas, beers and wines, plus breakfast, lunch, dinner, pastries and desserts. A condensed version Uptown focuses on the coffee side of the business for a frothy cappuccino fix during the work day.
Rush Espresso: 14825 Ballantyne Village Way #135 and 120 Brevard Court
(7) Central Coffee Co.
Central was born as Plaza Midwood’s neighborhood, corner coffee shop before (at last) expanding to South End. They serve and brew North Carolina-based beans by artisan coffee roasters Joe Van Gogh. Pastries and food are prepared and baked in house each day.
Central Coffee Co.: 719 Louise Ave. and 1700 Camden Road #101
(8) Smelly Cat Coffeehouse
Smelly Cat is ideal for a relaxing hour on the patio in the heart of NoDa or tucked into an indoor nook. Settle in with a single origin pour over, a cold brew on nitrogen, an iced tea or a specialty espresso drink. Worth noting: They roast their own ethically sourced coffee.
Smelly Cat Coffeehouse: 514 E 36th St.
Get a taste of three local coffee roasters
Support your local coffee roasters with a purchase of their beans to grind at home, or find them brewed and ready for your cup at a local shop.
Three roasters to know: Magnolia Coffee Co. roasts beans from distant places like Papua New Guinea and Honduras and has a goal to be socially responsible in their process. Family-owned Enderly Coffee Co. was created with the concept of using coffee roasting as a conduit for revitalization and economic opportunity in west Charlotte. And Pure Intentions Coffee was founded on the belief that everyone has an emotional connection to coffee. The roaster’s “purest intention” is to make that connection with every person who drinks the coffee.
Find them: All three can be found brewed at Rhino Market & Deli. To get you started, Pure Intentions can also be found in brewed and retail forms at popular hangouts including Amélie’s French Bakery & Café, Sunflour Baking Co. and Earl’s Grocery. Enderly Coffee Co. can be found brewed and in retail at The Mayobird, Joe’s Doughs and ROOTS Café. Magnolia Coffee can be found brewed and in retail at The Common Market. Check the roasters’ separate websites for more details and locations.
Photos: David Johnson, HEX Coffee, CharlotteFive Staff, Rémy Thurston, Jonathan Wells