These local coffee shops in Raleigh are native favorites for a reason. Try one (or all 5) next time you need some caffeine in the Oak City.
When we first moved to Raleigh from Indiana, honestly the thing I was most excited about was the warmer weather. Once we got there, though, I realized it was a really cool city with exciting things to see and do.
Obviously, I wasted no time in exploring local coffee shops. There are so many cafes in Raleigh and the surrounding areas, with more opening each year. One thing I noticed, which I love, is the focus on local. Cafes and restaurants are locally owned and pride themselves on using local ingredients.
Of course there’s Starbucks, Dunkin, and other coffee chains (which all have their time and place), but if you really want to enjoy the city, check out these local coffee shops in and around Raleigh.
1. Sir Walter Coffee
Sir Walter Coffee is basically synonymous with Raleigh. Their namesake is Sir Walter Raleigh, after all. They have two locations. The OG is right downtown and serves craft coffee, cocktails, and breakfast and lunch food. The newest location is in Holly Springs, NC and has a full kitchen with meals available all day.
I cannot say enough about how cool this place is. When they say craft coffee, they mean it. They have the most unique flavors like a coffee julep or a cold brew with basil syrup. Not to mention they serve coffee cocktails and I am a SUCKER for coffee cocktails.
Did I also mention that their food is AMAZING. Those are maple bourbon sweet tater tots with breakfast tacos.
Let me repeat. Maple 🤤 Bourbon 🤤 Sweet 🤤 Tater 🤤 Tots. Yes they are as good as they sound.
If the coffee and food weren’t enough, SWC is open till midnight as a regular bar, has seasonal specialty drinks for holidays, does tapas nights every Friday, and recently started pop up events with a local bakery.
2. Sola Coffee Cafe
If you’ve been to Raleigh, or seen it through Instagram, you may recognize Sola as the place with the popular ‘I believe in Raleigh’ mural.
They truly love the Raleigh community and are exceptionally locally minded. They serve Counter Culture Coffee, a North Carolina based roaster, and partner local bakeries for pastries. Even their milk and honey is sourced locally.
In addition to coffee, they serve fresh juices, smoothies, and smoothie bowls. Or in the evening you can buy beer and wine!
If there’s one thing you absolutely have to get, its the hot minis. These mini donuts are made fresh and are one of Sola’s most famous menu item. I recommend a power bowl for lunch and hot minis to go, because balance.
3. Cultivate Coffee Roasters
Confession: we didn’t actually live in Raleigh. We lived just south of the city in Fuquay Varina, NC. As much as I loved Raleigh, Fuquay is an adorable town with its own standout local coffee shop – Cultivate Coffee Roasters.
They opened their doors shortly after we moved there in 2018 and I’m so glad they did. I worked from there, brought my dog to the patio, told everyone about it; I took full advantage.
They roast their own coffee on site and have their own tea blends. They also serve (and sell) housemade syrups and partner with other local vendors for things like milk, pastries, and ice cream.
One of my favorite things about Cultivate is how they became a central hub for the community. They aren’t just a coffee shop but a local market, a flower shop, a live music venue, a workshop space, you name it. It’s the perfect small town space.
4. Yellow Dog Bread Co.
I don’t know what heaven smells like, but I imagine it’s something close to what Yellow Dog Bread Co. smells like. The husband and wife duo behind Yellow Dog opened their doors in 2013. It’s named after their own yellow dog, Ellie, which just made me love it even more 🐕
They obviously serve a whole range of breads and pastries. Specialty loaves rotate daily but the classics are available every day. They also do awesome seasonal menus like a spiced pear bundt cake in the winter and strawberry shortcake kits in the summer.
The coffee menu perfectly complements the bread and pastries. They have drip coffee, espresso, and Slingshot cold brew, another Raleigh based company that has taken the coffee world by storm. If coffee isn’t your thing, they also serve tea and juice.
I recommend the Slingshot cold brew and a big old cinnamon roll. Bring your pup, sit outside, and you’ve got the perfect Saturday morning. The Fresh Exchange did a great profile on Yellow Dog a few years ago. Check out the article if you want to learn more about them.
Did I save the best for last? I’ll let you decide 😉 BittersweetRaleigh is a coffee cocktail bar in the heart of downtown. I used to walk past it on my way to work every morning and it was one of the first places I tried after we moved.
They have a great outdoor space and a walk up window (how cool is that!?) Their specialty is cocktails and I highly recommend one of their coffee cocktails. For non-alcoholic coffee, they serve Counter Culture coffee and a variety of espresso drinks.
If you’re still not hooked, let’s talk about their desserts. They’ve got pie. They’ve got cupcakes. There’s even creme brulee. I mean check out this chocolate mocha cream pie 🤤
It’s easy to see why Bittersweet has been a Raleigh favorite for 6 years now. They’re passionate about the community and you can’t leave without a smile.
It seems like this post has just been me fan-girling over every cafe. But sorry not sorry because they’re all awesome. Next time you’re in Raleigh, make sure you show these local coffee shops some love.
Did I miss any? Let me know your favorite coffee shop in Raleigh!
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