Looking for great local coffee shops in downtown Raleigh to get your fix, catch up with friends, or get some work done?
Whilst we are primarily latte drinkers (or flat whites when available being Aussies), the whole craft coffee scene here is growing for the best (like the craft beer scene) and just adds to the reasons we love living here.
No matter what style of coffee you prefer, you can find a Raleigh coffee shop for you!
Of course, people’s opinions of what makes a great cup of Joe is subjective. But as Australians, we think we know a nice cup of coffee (and cafe scene) when we sip on one.
In our biased opinion from experience, Australia has one of the best coffee scenes in the world, second to New Zealand.
And whilst serving up a consistently high quality cup of coffee is important, what makes a great coffee shop also depends upon things like:
- friendly service and professional baristas
- vibe and atmosphere
- variety of snacks/bakery goods
- WiFi that works
- great location!
You can have the most stylish and inviting space, but if your coffee is sub-par, we probably won’t come back often.
Below are our favorite coffee shops in downtown Raleigh that we keep going back to, and judging by their popularity, other locals love them too!
Popular coffee shops in downtown raleigh
We never could have imagined that after all our time living in Thailand and traveling through Asia, that a coffee shop that is a union of Laos, Taiwan and Japan would become one of our favorite coffee shops in downtown Raleigh.
Heirloom Brewshop is located in the Warehouse District (underneath the Dillon building and close to Morgan Street food Hall) and this area is probably our favorite area in downtown and where you’ll find us most often – I go to the nearby HQ co-working space, and Caroline to The Locality (a co-working space for female entrepreneurs).
As mentioned, lattes are our go to coffee fix and if you’re a latte fan too, you can’t go wrong here!
Whilst there are other important elements for ranking “the best coffee shops”, if we’re purely talking lattes, Heirloom is our current favorite. Jubala is a very close second (see down below).
Heirloom is a specialty coffee shop, premium tea house, and sake bar with an Asian-inspired menu and aesthetics – I love the wood slat ceiling and large windows that provide for lots of natural light and a bright, sleek venue.
There’s also a small bites menu inspired by the founder’s Laotian and Taiwanese roots. We haven’t eaten much here yet, but we are fans of their delicious mochi donuts with unique flavors.
I find the service consistently friendly and personable, and the ambiance is on point.
It’s very peaceful inside and much quieter than most coffee shops even when busy making for a great place to get some work done.
It’s also perfect for social outings, family catch ups, or solo moments of refection. And there’s also seating outside for those warmer days!
I’m a big fan of this coffee shop for many reasons, but I keep coming back simply because of their consistently great almond lattes – and our kids would drag us here for the cookies!
Heirloom is locally owned and operated, and they serve Little Waves Coffee and Counter Culture Coffee, both local coffee roasters in nearby Durham.
Jubala is the other coffee shop in Raleigh you’ll find us at most often.
I love all things Jubala. From the coffee, to the vibe, to the location and their food offerings – everything is made to order from their specialty coffees to their waffles and breakfast biscuits.
Whilst I can’t speak for their specialty coffees as I like to watch my sugar intake, for me their latte ranks a very close second or on par to Heirloom – and they sell flat whites which us Aussies love (similar to a latte but made with less milk).
What I do know is, our kids absolutely love their nutella and banana waffles, and their choc chip cookies.
In fact, my daughter just came for a 20-minute drive to downtown Raleigh from Cary just to get their waffles.
I love the location on Hillsborough Street, right across the road from NC State University campus, and underneath the cool Aloft Hotel which is one of the best places to stay in downtown Raleigh.
Being close to campus, it’s a popular spot for students to work online and meetup. Growing up in Australia I didn’t go to college and one of the things I love about living in Raleigh is the college atmosphere, and be it a college sport game, a bar, or coffee shop I enjoy getting among it.
Their menu is simple and not overwhelming.
They use local beans from Counter Culture in Durham, and I always find their baristas super friendly and professional – you can tell they care about providing a great customer experience and delivering a superior product.
There’s an outside seating patio area with a great view of the iconic campus bell tower, our preference in warmer weather and to watch the world go by.
This is definitely one of the best coffee shops in downtown Raleigh. And in the fall they make a popular pumpkin spice latte. What’s not to love?
The Morning Times
Another of our favorite Raleigh coffee shops right in the heart of downtown, and one we’ve been going to for years, is The Morning Times.
We enjoy grabbing a coffee and our kids a treat from the pastry section and then sitting at one of the tables in the space upstairs that has a cozy laid-back atmosphere and also functions as a mini art gallery.
It’s a great space to catch up with friends or get some work done.
This is a popular coffee shop with locals, and at peak times they’ll be lined up out the door.
If it’s quiet, we also enjoy sitting downstairs at the window and watching the world pass by outside. They also have seating on the sidewalk which is awesome on sunny days – and dog friendly if you have a furry friend.
Our lattes are always consistently good (they use Counter Culture coffee) and served by friendly and experienced barristers who never keep you waiting too long, and our kids love the chocolate chip cookies – are you noticing a theme here!
They serve all your regular coffee options plus teas, cocktails and beer.
They also sell breakfast and lunch items, including a kids menu, and each time we visit they have gluten-free baked goods.
Although it’s called the ‘Morning’ times they are open till late and on they offer beer and cocktails.
Stop in and relax, or grab a coffee to go and explore downtown on foot.
42 & Lawrence
On the menu is a full coffee bar including all the espresso drinks, nitro cold brew, pour overs, and teas, specialty drinks using their own syrups made in-house, plus a small selection of pastries.
I like the sleek and modern interior of this coffee shop, with lots of natural light coming in from the large windows that look out on the corner of S Blount and E Martin streets.
Known for experimenting with unique coffee creations, you can sit at the bar and watch their friendly barristers do their thing, or grab one of the high tables or sit outside on the sidewalk.
Go check out their coffee flights, or if you’re a tea lover their selection of loose leaf teas!
Sir Walter Coffee
When we took a visiting family member from Australia here recently, they commented that they felt like they were in Brooklyn, NY. With it’s hip and modern interior, I thought that was a fair observation.
We haven’t frequented Sir Walter as much as I’d like, but when we do I always enjoy the vibe and drinks.
Located on E. Davie St. in downtown Raleigh and not far from Moore Square, Sir Walter Coffee is a cool barista bar with a focus not just on all your regular coffee options and flavors plus nitro cold brew and vietnames iced coffee, but also unique coffee creations, tea lattes, tea cocktails, kombucha, bubble tea smoothies and beer.
Sticking with our theme, we typically order a milkadamia latte, and they serve bagels and waffles to keep our kids happy.
You get welcoming service and helpful tips on what to order, and a hip space to hangout and socialize or get some work done.
Not always the quietest of cafes if you’re easily distracted, but we always enjoy the upbeat music and atmosphere.
This is a hidden gem of a Raleigh coffee shop. We didn’t even know it was here for quite some time.
Located on Hillsborough Street but a bit further down from NC State and away from downtown. If you’ve heard of the Brickhouse Sports Bar it’s next door to that, and across the street from Meredith College.
Lucky Tree offers a wide selection of delicious coffee options and specialty lattes, and great vegan and gluten free bakery goods. Plus wine and beers. Our kids are fans of their hot chocolates.
But that’s not all.
The other cool thing about this Raleigh cafe is it doubles as a local art and gift shop.
They represent artwork and handmade items from more than 50 local artists, so while you are waiting for your coffee, you can browse what’s on offer.
They also have live music nights and host the Free the Mic every 2nd and 4th Monday from 7-10 P.M.
And its coffee is roasted in Durham and milk by NC State’s Howling Cow. I love how they support local businesses and entrepreneurs in so many ways.
I hope this list of coffee shops in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina helped you find your coffee fix?
Stay tuned, we’ll be adding to this list shortly!