7 Coffee Shops in Downtown Raleigh The Locals Love!

Looking for great local coffee shops in downtown Raleigh to get your fix, catch up with friends, or get some work done? Or are your visiting Raleigh and looking for coffee shops near me? We’ve got you covered too!

The Morning Times - one of the best coffee shops in downtown Raleigh
The Morning Times

We’ve been living in Raleigh, NC since 2004 with a few years back in our birth home of Australia, and Raleigh has definitely upped its coffee game (and it’s restaurant scene) and it continues to get better.

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!

Latte at 42&Lawrence
Latte at 42 & Lawrence

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 Raleigh, North Carolina that we keep going back to, and judging by their popularity, other locals love them too!

Popular coffee shops in downtown raleigh

Jubala Coffee

Jubala Coffee shop, Raleigh

Jubala is the 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 15-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.

Jubala coffee shop, Raleigh, NC

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 Raleigh. And in the fall they make a popular pumpkin spice latte. What’s not to love?

Read our full review of Jubala Coffee shop here.

P.S. they have another location in Lafayette Village (north Raleigh)

Heirloom Brewshop

Heirloom Brewshop, one of the best 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.

They offer a great variety of drinks from brewed coffee and pour overs, to cortados, to loose leaf teas, to sake, draft beers and cocktails.

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.

Heirloom Brewshop, Raleigh

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. 

Read our full review of Heirloom here.

The Morning Times

The Morning Times coffee shop, Raleigh, NC

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.

The Morning Times, Raleigh

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.

Idle Hour Coffee Roasters

Idle Hour Coffee Shop, Raleigh, NC

A welcome new addition to the Raleigh coffee scene in 2020 was the boutique Idle Hour Coffee Shop, for more reasons than one!

Yes, this is a coffee house first and foremost, but good luck getting out of here without eating one of their delicious pastries or desserts, especially if you have kids like us! Upon entry you are greeted by their pastry and desserts display and let me just say, it’s all great eye candy and our taste buds agree!

Idle Hour Coffee Shop, Raleigh, NC
Idle Hour Coffee Shop, Raleigh, NC

But they also serve excellent coffee! This is a full coffee bar with staples such as espresso, latte, Americano, cappuccino, mocha, macchiato, chai latte, and pour over plus cold brew, nitro, and their highly regarded Vietnamese coffee!

Located on Oberlin Road in a lovely neighborhood spot not far from Five Points and Cameron Village, this is an adorable coffee shop from the outside with an inviting interior space that’s aesthetically pleasing – clean and fresh in appearance, a lovely ambiance, and welcoming and helpful staff. 

Idle Hour Coffee Shop, Raleigh, NC

All their pastries are made from scratch or by local vendors, and their popular Tepuy Donuts (handcrafted sourdough doughnuts) are a hit with the locals, and our daughters! 

There’s also a small cafe menu with paninis and sandwiches and bagels if you’d like something more substantial, and while we haven’t ventured past their pastries and desserts yet, their Banh Mi sandwich comes highly recommended (next time). 

If you visit in the fall, don’t miss their specialty fall lattes, the maple ginger and lavender honey latte. We also think their flour-less chocolate brownie slice pairs perfectly with a latte!

Idle Hour Coffee Shop, Raleigh, NC

Inside seating consists of a few comfy couches and chairs, plus cozy booths, and outside is a few tables and chairs for the warmer days!

Overall the space is beautiful with very chill vibes and coffee worth traveling for – I could definitely see myself working out of here post pandemic!

A must try Raleigh coffee shop!

42 & Lawrence

42 & Lawrence Coffee Shop, Raleigh, NC

Located across from Moore Square and historic City Market in downtown, 42 & Lawrence serves up really good organic coffee (using their own Larry’s Coffee) and nitro cold brews at their mod bar setup.

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.  

raleigh coffee shops

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 from their coffee lab, 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. 

42 and laurence 2

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.

Lucky Tree

Lucky Tree coffee shop, Raleigh

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 and tea 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.

Lucky Tree coffee shop, Raleigh. NC

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 in downtown Raleigh helped you find your coffee fix?

Stay tuned, we’ll be adding to this list shortly!

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