If you’re plugging the word “Starbucks” into your GPS for your next coffee fix, you’re missing out. Charlotte is turning into a hotspot for craft coffee, local roasts and hip places opened by local business owners.
To make sure you know where you can support local in every corner of town when you sip your coffee, I’ve updated my list of 21 Charlotte coffee spots you need to try. In no particular order:
While this hopping South End spot gets busy as a brewery (Hyde Brewing) and restaurant as the day goes on, The Suffolk Punch keeps its coffee bar open 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The space is airy and filled with greenery, not to mention Whisk and Wood pastries and beautifully crafted coffees designed by Lindsey Pitman of Trade and Lore.
2911 Griffith St.
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Did you know this neighborhood wine bar doubles as a coffee cafe in the morning? DTR offers coffees that emphasize locally roasted Pure Intentions beans, with creations such as Cafe Cubano, lattes, chai and pumpkin spice chai made with real pumpkin. Soak up the New-York-style vibes (and nibble on a house-made pastry) from 8 a.m.- 1 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.
300 East Tremont Ave.
This café was created for cat and coffee lovers (dog lovers: the owner here wants you to try out the cat situation, too). Order local fare like cookies from A Smart Cookie, Raw Crunch Bars, Lenny Boy Brewing Co. kombucha and hot drip coffee from Pure Intentions. Guests pay $12 per hour (reservations are recommended) to relax in the Cat Lounge, where adoptable cats flit about for your petting pleasure.
516 E. 15th St.
This is the kind of place where you meet a friend for a made-to-order sandwich and a coffee to get a break from your work day. Belly up to the bar seating or a table — but only after you browse the snack items from pimento cheese to chips to pair with your coffee craving. You can also grab a bag of beans by Charlotte Coffee Co. and Pure Intentions while you wait for your order.
1315 East Blvd.
While ROOTs is a restaurant with counter service, this little neighborhood nook in Dilworth feels like a cozy coffee shop in the mornings and afternoons. Grab a pastry and a hot cup of Enderly Coffee to go if you’re in the middle of your walk with your dog, or order a cappuccino at the counter and snag a table with your computer to get some work done. It’s a quiet and cheerful place, with warm lighting and a smoky mirror on the back wall.
2135 Southend Dr., Suite 109
No other coffee shop in Charlotte looks like Coco and the Director, with its high ceilings and tiered seating area featuring a community table, cushioned seats and more tables and chairs, plus its muffled, zen vibe. Order a Lenny Boy kombucha, a snack or one of the coffees brewed with Forte Legato beans. Also, don’t miss out on various social gatherings, including Wine & Color Wednesdays.
100 W. Trade St.
New to South End, Lincoln’s doubles as a fast-casual restaurant and grocery, with a coffee bar and charming nooks for tables and chairs and couches. The menu spans breakfast, lunch and libations. The nooks are destined for a quiet catch-up with a friend, or a curled-up hour with a book.
300 S. Blvd., Ste. S.
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.
125 Remount Road
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.
3306 N. Davidson St.
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.
Locations include 224 E 7th St., 222 S Church St., 2230 Park Road Suite 102, 2000 South Blvd. 421 Providence Road
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.”
3115 Freedom Dr.
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.
225 N. Trade St., Matthews
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.
14825 Ballantyne Village Way #135 and 120 Brevard Court
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 roaster Joe Van Gogh. Pastries and food are prepared and baked in house each day.
719 Louise Ave. and 1700 Camden Road #101
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.
514 E 36th St.
The French bakery was named after the 2001 romantic comedy “Amélie” and has overtaken most reaches of Charlotte with its various locations of quirky, French-inspired decor. While the original location in NoDa is open 24 hours, all versions of the bakery are the perfect spot for a Cafe Capuchon and a pastry (like the famed salted caramel brownie).
2424 N Davidson St. and other locations
Sink into a comfy chair and admire the local art on the walls and assortment of handmade mugs in this warm, inviting space while you order coffee by Magnolia Coffee, or tea. Check the calendar for game nights and fiction group meetings too, if you’re feeling adventurous.
5126 Park Rd, Ste 1D.
Welcome to Uptown’s most mysterious place to find great coffees. The decor is plenty mysterious to begin with, with black birds and angels, and shelves of trinkets and crystals and books. When Subsecreto first opened, the press release promised there will be “new, old and interesting pieces that will disappear over time, never to be seen again.” Membership pins are available for $13 (if you want a coffee discount!), but the space is open to all creatives wishing to explore the unknown.
325 E. 9th St.
Drip coffee, cold brew, espresso and aeropress — that’s what delicious coffee types are made of in this bright, South End space. As the company puts it: “They say behind every successful person is a substantial amount of coffee.”
255 Clanton Road.
No one does “quirky grunge” better than Common Market, which is my favorite “modern twist on general stores of the past” to stop at for a hummus scoop salad at the deli, a random, weird greeting card and a cup of hot coffee.
2007 Commonwealth Ave. and other locations
This is your destination if you’re craving inventive sandwiches, trivia nights, a bit of funk and, yes, coffee. You can also browse and buy locally roasted coffee beans here, plus cheap wines and expensive chocolate — my favorite combo.
1500 W Morehead St #E, and 400 S Tryon St.
While Earl’s is home to one of the eight best meatless burgers you can find in Charlotte, it’s also a great home base for recharging your creativity over coffee and a conversation — or your laptop. Aim for the morning or afternoon to avoid the lunch rush — but don’t forget to treat yourself to that black bean burger, or a prepared food item (their Brussels sprouts slaw is my favorite when it’s available)
1609 Elizabeth Ave.
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: Katie Toussaint, David Johnson, HEX Coffee, CharlotteFive Staff, Rémy Thurston, Jonathan Wells