College towns are usually an ideal place to find unique local coffee shops and Chapel Hill, North Carolina is no exception. While it has the big chains like Starbucks and Caribou, it’s also home to a number of one-of-a-kind locales. From Café Driade, where you can enjoy a cup of coffee in the woods to Sugarland, which offers homemade cupcakes and other delicious dessert delicacies, these spots have plenty to offer.
The Red Bicycle Coffee Café and Catering has an airy atmosphere with high ceilings and modern décor. An outdoor patio area that overlooks a lush landscape provides an additional seating option on a warm day. All coffees are roasted locally by Joe Van Gough in Hillsborough and served fresh. Each day, selections include a light roast, dark roast and decaf. Handcrafted teas provide another drink option. All syrups that can be added to the beverages are made only with sugar and contain no genetically-modified ingredients. The café serves homemade sandwiches and salads. Patrons can also pick up locally made baked goods or Maple View Farms ice cream for dessert.
Caffe Driade is set off the road in an unassuming location in a minimalist modern building. During warmer months of the year, the front can be hard to see because its surrounded by lush gardens and old growth forest. Works from local artists adorn the walls, with the display rotating on a monthly basis. All coffee served at the café is roasted by Carrboro Coffee Roasters, one town away. Drinks include expresso, macchiato, cappuccino, whole leaf tea, chai and steamed milk with flavor shots. Those who are hungry can enjoy locally-made granola, baked goods, fruit or vegan cupcakes. When the weather is nice, head to the back where you can enjoy your coffee surrounded by tall trees.
Offering wine, coffee and tea, 3 Cups is not a typical coffee shop. The retail establishment is lined with bottles of wine, shelves of beer and vats of coffee. While more of a place to purchase coffee to be made at home, the store also serves cups for when you’re on the go. All coffee made on-site is made in press pots in small batches, which helps to bring out the body and complex flavors of the bean. Loose leaf tea is also served in the store in ceramic teapots.
While Sugarland is considered a bakery, it’s also a great place to pick up a coffee drink. Its whimsical atmosphere, decked out in blue walls, ceilings and floors offers a comfortable place to enjoy a cupcake and coffee with friends. All baked goods are made with local organic flour, dairy products and eggs. Typical coffee drinks like mochas and lattes are available along with drip coffee. In addition to cupcakes with flavors like cookie monster, crème brulee and apple cobbler, gelato is also offered.
Bean and Barrel is a combination coffee shop, bar and grill. The sophisticated, modern atmosphere provides a spot for unwinding after a long day. Espresso bar drinks range from the typical to distinctive. The Mint Dreamy has espresso, steamed milk, mint, cocoa and whipped cream, while the caramel kicker contains espresso, steamed milk, caramel flavor and caramel drizzle. Syrup flavors for coffee drinks include Irish cream, walnut, cinnamon, butterscotch and amaretto. All coffee served is shade grown, fair trade and organic. Milk shakes, smoothies, Italian sodas and teas provide options for the non-coffee drinker.
Carolina Coffee Shop is in the heart of UNC territory on East Franklin Street. The shop goes beyond a typical coffee shop and serves up a full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sundays feature a brunch accompanied by classical music. This isn’t the sort of place you’d go for a coffee on the run. It’s more of a spot to get a cup of coffee or tea with a meal or dessert. Coffee served is from Costa Rica. Tea options include black, earl grey, English breakfast, golden chamomile, green and sweet ginger peach.