42 & Lawrence

134 East Martin Street, Raleigh, 42lawrence.com

Stop by this downtown Raleigh spot for lattes and nitro cold brew on draft—for the best of both worlds, opt for the Black & Tan. You can also snag pastries from Boulted Bread or lucettegrace, and purchase bags of beans of the small-batch “experimental” coffees (locally roasted at Larry’s Coffee).

Benelux Coffee

402 Oberlin Road, #118, Raleigh, beneluxcoffee.com

A stellar place for coffee and waffles, Benelux has been serving its locally roasted coffee and Belgian-style waffles since 2010. The Cameron Village location is particularly welcoming, with a mix of overstuffed couches and cozy tables and a dog-friendly policy indoors and out. 

Beyù Caffè

341 West Main Street, beyucaffe.com

When you want to sip and settle in with a book or while away the afternoon listening to jazz, this downtown Durham spot is your jam. For an espresso beverage that drinks like dessert, opt for the Runaway Latte, laced with praline syrup, cayenne pepper, and a dusting of cinnamon. You can also get a cuppa and East Durham Bake Shop pastries at Beyu Blue on Duke’s campus. 

BREW Coffee Bar

111 Seaboard Avenue, #116, Raleigh, brewdtr.com; 122 East Chatham Street, Cary, brewcary.com

Both the Raleigh and Cary locations serve drip coffee, pour overs, and espresso drinks crafted with locally roasted Raleigh Coffee, as well as coffee from a different guest roaster monthly. If you’re looking for a different kind of buzz, check out the monthly tap takeover featuring local breweries. 

Caffé Driade

1215 East Franklin Street, Suite A, Chapel Hill, caffedriade.com

This gem has been in business for more than twenty years, featuring single-origin coffee from Carrboro Coffee for just as long. Besides the coffee, the outdoor patio seating and homey vibes attract a mix of families, business professionals, and UNC students. If it’s been one of those days, Driade also boasts a well-curated wine list.

Cocoa Cinnamon

420 West Geer Street, Durham; 2627 Hillsborough Road, Durham; 2013 Chapel Hill Road, Durham; cocoacinnamon.com

With three Durham locations and its own roastery and coffee brand, 4th Dimension Coffee, Cocoa Cinnamon is a perennial local favorite. The pour-over coffee is an excellent choice anytime, but I’m partial to the Middle Eastern iced coffee, brewed with cardamom, rose petals, and vanilla bean. 

Jubala Coffee

8450 Honeycutt Road, Raleigh; 2100 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh; jubalacoffee.com

Come for the Counter Culture espresso drinks, stay for the waffles, which boast a crisp-caramelized exterior and soft-bordering-on-doughy-interior. If you’re here midday, the hot-pressed sandwiches (get the pimento bacon) and an iced coffee make the case for a working lunch.


115 North Duke Street, Suite A, Durham, kaffeinatenc.com

This Durham shop has earned a following for its whimsical creations, such as the purple-hued Okinawan Steamer crafted with purple sweet potatoes or the black sesame latte. But the house-blend coffee is top-notch, too. 


235 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh, lucettegrace.com

Lucettegrace’s calling card is baker Daniel Benjamin’s pastries, but he takes his joe just as seriously, serving locally roasted Larry’s Coffee. Pair a cup with the Better Morning Bun, a churro-croissant-cream-puff hybrid, or any of the rainbow-hued French macarons.

Open Eye Cafe

101 South Greensboro Street, Carrboro, openeyecafe.com

Open Eye is also home to roaster Carrboro Coffee, which supplies sister spot Caffé Driade with its coffee. There’s plenty of seating, making it a go-to spot for families, friends catching up, or freelancers pecking away at their laptops.

Sir Walter Coffee 

145 East Davie Street, Raleigh, sirwaltercoffee.com

At this downtown Raleigh coffeehouse, classic espresso drinks vie for menu real estate with coffee and tea cocktails (available as mocktails, too). If you really need to get your day going, opt for the Sir Walter Six—six shots of espresso shaken with ice and topped with house-made shaken cream. Definitely not for the weak of heart.