15 Coffee Shops and Cafes You’ll Like a Latte

Smelly Cat Coffee15 Coffee Shops and Cafes You’ll Like a Latte

Smelly Cat Coffeehouse, which roasts beans in-house, is a local hotspot in Charlotte

There’s nothing better than a good cup o’ joe in the morning. Or the afternoon. Or even in the evening. And North Carolina is filled with an abundance of locally owned coffee shops, each offering a bit of homegrown flavor and insight into the cultures of our towns and cities.

You’ll find hipster coffee bars, charming coffee cafés and down-home set-a-spell coffee shops. Plus, with amenities like coffee education, brewing classes, coffee clubs and even Segway tours, Tar Heel coffee shops are better than ever. Wherever you’re visiting across the state, there are some great options for you to get a jolt of java with a refreshing experience to match.


Mountain Perks Espresso Bar & Café
Bryson City
Mountain Perks serves up cold-drip coffee, a handful of espresso drinks, flavored Cappuccino specialties (don’t miss the Peppermint Patty) and tasty frozen treats (the Milky Way is, well, out of this world). This caffeine paradise is across the street from the Smoky Mountain Railroad and it also features the largest menu of gluten-free tasty treats in all of Bryson City.

Panacea Coffee Company
The folks at Panacea Coffee Company found their panacea in a passion for coffee and have been roasting and serving it up since 2002 in a renovated historic warehouse. The eclectic space features exposed brick walls, lots of cozy seating areas and a creekside patio in Waynesville’s Frog Level industrial district. There’s a full menu of coffees and teas, a full-service espresso bar, tasty café specialties and even a coffee club that will ship roasted beans directly to your home.

BattleCat Coffee Bar
With a name inspired by the trusty tiger sidekick of the He-Man cartoon and sporting an appropriately fierce logo, BattleCat Coffee Bar is the motherlode when it comes to a funky and artsy coffee shop vibe. If you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous than a basic cup of coffee, try the Mexican Mocha, with cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon and steamed milk; or the Bee City USA specialty, Café Miel, with honey and cinnamon. Scan the flyers on the wall to find out all the latest and greatest local events and funky things for sale.

For other great options in the area, check out the “slow bar” at High Five Coffee Bar for coffee education or Double D’s Double Decker bus coffee and dessert shop.

Bald Guy Brew
Valle Crucis, Boone, Blowing Rock
With three locations in the High Country, Bald Guy Brew is dedicated to empowering coffee-growing communities. It brews up espresso drinks and organic and fair trade coffees, which you can order as a drip, a pour-over, or a cold-shaken shot. If tea is more your thing, the shop offers a large selection of high-quality teas as well as locally sourced baked goods and treats. Hang out in the “cool space” in the upstairs loft, at the counter for a local chat or hole up on one of the comfy chairs or sofas.

Talia Espresso
North Wilkesboro
Here, you’ll find an extensive menu of cold coffee drinks, like the frozen Espresso Fusos, hot drinks (try the milkadamia, made with macadamia nuts, in your chai, latte or steamer), and over-the-top sinful signature drinks like the Milky Way Mocha or the Pumpkin Spice White Mocha. And it’s all served in a renovated downtown department store with upscale décor, high ceilings and an outdoor area filled with plants and flowers. Be sure to check out Talia Espresso’s drive-thru second location if you’re looking for a quick fix.


Smelly Cat Coffeehouse
Nestled in Charlotte’s arts and entertainment district known as NoDa, Smelly Cat Coffeehouse features a homey, rustic atmosphere, with funky cat memorabilia and music from the ’90s, paired with single-origin pour-overs, refreshing cold brews, and specialty espresso drinks. If you’re not big on coffee, consider the Chunky Monkey hot chocolate, sprinkled with chunks of rich chocolate and peppermint.

If you’re interested in some coffee schooling, visit Not Just Coffee, another Charlotte hot spot, for cuppings, classes and interactive brewing.

Twin City Hive
Likely the world’s only combo coffee shop, Segway tour operator and chocolate shop, Twin City Hive serves pour-over and drip coffees using single-origin beans from roasters all over the state. And even though the operators eschew an espresso machine, they can still make a mean specialty coffee drink. Plus, with local chocolates and gift items, they pretty much provide post-Segway tour one-stop shopping. Or check out Krankies' über-cool Airstream drive-thru, the sister spot for Twin City’s original brick-and-mortar location.

Caffé Driade
Chapel Hill
Off the beaten path and surrounded entirely by trees along the Bolin Creek Trail, Caffé Driade brews coffee and espresso drinks with beans from nearby Carrboro Coffee Company. The cafe even has a coffee fingerprinting method to help guide your coffee experience. There’s also a large selection of teas, beer, wine, locally made sweets and an in-house humidor for those who prefer a cigar.

Cocoa Cinnamon
Located in the Central Park area of Durham, Cocoa Cinnamon uses creative spices in its coffees and teas to create unique flavors. Try a Rumi that starts with African or Asian hand-brewed coffee, with added rosewater and cardamom. There’s also the See-Line Woman espresso, with black strap molasses, dark melted chocolate and homemade vanilla latte. For the sweet tooth, sample the single-origin sipping chocolates on the outdoor patio.

Warren FoodWorks
This multipurpose destination is a local coffee shop and café, retail market and shared-use kitchen program through the locally based, nonprofit Working Landscapes, which is an organization that focuses on rural sustainability through natural and cultural resources. Located south of the state line up near Virginia, between Interstates 85 and 95, Warren FoodWorks serves fair trade coffees and espressos from Hillsborough-based Joe Van Gogh, scratch-made baked goods and sweets, North Carolina wine, and craft beer from the area’s best microbreweries. And it’s all for your enjoyment inside a renovated historic building that’s become quite the gathering place in the center of downtown.


Morning View Coffee House & Roastery
Nags Head
Roasting a wide variety of fair trade and organic coffees for more than a decade, and onsite at its MP 11 Bypass location on the Outer Banks since 2009, Morning View has perfected four roasting degrees (City, Full City, Vienna and French) that best exemplify its coffees. Choose from a variety of blends and single-origin beans, add any combination of dozens of flavors, and have it hot, iced or frappéd. Or do like the locals do and try the Nor’easter with caramel, hazelnut and mocha, all topped off with chocolate whipped cream.

Ocracoke Coffee Company
Located in a historic island home nestled in the heart of the village on Ocracoke Island, Ocracoke Coffee Company has been an island institution for 20-plus years, serving coffee, espresso, smoothies and baked goods. Don’t miss the Nuts n’ Joltz, featuring a double shot of espresso, chocolate, peanut butter and banana. Enjoy your beverage on the front porch to catch up on all the latest gossip and island news, where the salt air mixes with the aroma of coffee.

Sweet Beans Coffee & Café
Morehead City
Known as the “locals' café,” Sweet Beans’ staff knows their customers not only by name, but also by what they drink. Friendly baristas prepare coffees, lattes, chais, espresso specialties and popular frozen frappés like the Milky Way, Almond Joy and Bananas Foster – which taste exactly like their namesakes. Or, you can try one of them as a hot latte instead.

Sweet Peas Café
New Bern
Although it has a full breakfast and lunch menu, Sweet Peas Café is well-known for its extensive beverage menu that features coffees, espresso drinks, cocoas, chais, ciders, iced drinks, fruit smoothies, frappés, freezes, shakes and specialty chillers. The cozy venue is also a popular community gathering spot with local artwork gracing the walls, a charming seasonal window display, comfy sofas, all the latest news about local events and outdoor seating for people watching.

Folks Café
With two locations in Wilmington, Folks Café has become well known with locals, tourists and visiting celebrities (Emma Roberts tweeted about the iced coffee and Michael Caine stops by whenever he’s in town). Roasting and selling its own organic and fair trade coffees from around the world, the vibe is junk gypsy, the coffee and non-coffee drinks are creative and tasty, and the authentic empanadas on Tuesdays and Thursdays that are first-come, first-served are worth the wait.

If you need a coffee chain fix, you can’t go wrong with Port City Java, which was founded in Wilmington and now has more than 20 locations throughout North Carolina.

Cele Seldon is an Oak Island-based travel writer who loves covering her home state.


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