When you’re tired of Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, try one of the unique local coffee shops in Raleigh. While Raleigh might not have the reputation of coffee-loving locales like Seattle, there are a number of places where one can go to get away from the non-chain experience. Some are located near colleges like North Carolina State University and others are in the downtown area.
Located in the heart of the Glenwood South district, Café Helios is a hidden gem. Set back off the main road in a nondescript cinder-block building, its interior is light and airy, with modern appeal. If it’s one of those perfect North Carolina fall days, you may prefer to sit outside on the patio. The shop serves a full lunch menu featuring locally-grown produce and other items made in the area. In the evening, small plate features are available. Those just stopping by for a cup of coffee or tea are welcome as well. Its casual atmosphere offers a quite space for getting some work done on a laptop or meeting up with a friend. Order a latte and the baristas will create art on the top.
Morning Times in downtown Raleigh is a place where you can grab a coffee on the run or sit and stay awhile. While the storefront itself is small, a significantly larger space upstairs provides comfortable seating where you can settle in and work for awhile while enjoying your coffee. Seating downstairs is much more limited, but floor-to-ceiling windows provide a spot for people watching. On a nice day, you can also sit outside. All coffee is locally roasted and direct trade. Traditional beverages including the macchiato, espresso, latte and cappuccino are served. Homemade syrups like vanilla, almond and dulce de leche add a delicious shot of flavor to your beverage. Non-coffee drinkers can choose from a number of tea flavors, homemade chai, hot chocolate, fresh lemonade or orange juice. Breakfast and lunch menu items are also available.
With two locations, Cup A Joe is a popular spot with NC State students. Both spots are ultra-casual. Seating at its Mission Valley location resembles a high school cafeteria with slightly more class. The Hillsborough Street location features brick walls and high ceilings. Both locations exhibit works by local artists and change monthly. Eclectic permanent artwork is also present. Traditional coffee selections are featured on the menu along with smoothies and light lunch options. Free wifi is available, so if you can tolerate working around a louder college crowd, bring your computer.
Royal Bean Coffee House is located across from Meredith College. While the décor is dark and basic, the spacious atmosphere means you likely won’t feel crowded. For those seeking a quiet place to work during the day, it’s hardly ever crowded. When you order, the counter and prep area resembles more of a kitchen you’d find at home than a typical coffee house. Menu items include all the classics like fresh-roasted coffee, lattes and hot tea. Frappes come in a variety of candy bar favors like Almond Joy, Heath Bar, Snickers and Milky Way. These are available with or without espresso and are a good treat on a hot summer day. Royal Bean hosts live music on Saturday nights and has works of local artists displayed on the walls.
New World Coffee House in North Raleigh offers a light and airy atmosphere to enjoy a cup of coffee. The business serves Counter Culture Coffee, which specializes in sourcing coffees from around the world. Local artists and musicians are featured throughout the year. Coffee beverages include lattes, mochas, cappuccinos, espressos, flavored frozen coffee drinks and fruit smoothies. Non-coffee drinkers have ample choices as well, including steamed flavored milk, Italian soda, hot tea and soda. Lunch items include wraps, sandwiches and salads.