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18 Best Coffee Shops in Charleston, SC in 2024 | A Coffee Lover’s Guide

Looking for the best coffee shops in Charleston? These are my favorites along with directions, where to park, and what to expect when you get there.

By Jason Barnette | Travel writer and photographer with 15+ years of road tripping experience

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Affiliate Disclosure here.

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Explore Charleston, SC Series

This article is part of the Charleston, South Carolina series. Click the button to read more articles, itineraries, and travel guides in the series.

Salty air typically greets early morning visitors to Charleston. But get within sight of a local coffee shop and the savory smell of fresh brewed coffee permeates the air. With all the history, shopping, dining, and scenic beauty my favorite way to start the day is with a local coffee.

There was a time before I drank coffee, but I don’t really remember that much about it. I now start each day with a coffee before I even greet the public. But once I’m out, I’m out to explore.

Here is my coffee lover’s guide to my favorite coffee shops in Charleston, South Carolina. This list is in no particular order. But if a coffee shop is on this list it is because I enjoyed the atmosphere, service, and quality of the coffee.

Note From Author | Since 2010, I’ve visited almost every coffee shop in Charleston. After all, coffee is part of this website’s name! Some coffee shops close and others open, so I try to visit the new ones when I visit Charleston again.

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Map of Coffee Shops in Charleston

Note | Zoom the map out to see the first three coffee shops.

How to use this map | Click the icon in the top-left corner to open the Map Legend, then click on any of the legend items to display more information. If you have a Google account, click the (very faint) star at the end of the map’s name to save this map to your account, then access the map from your smartphone during your trip.

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No. 1

Charleston Coffee Exchange

A trip to Charleston is not complete without a drive into West Ashley to visit the Charleston Coffee Exchange. What started as a simple coffee shop has expanded to include on of the greatest selections of whole beans in the region.

From drip coffee to iced coffee, every kind of espresso, and lots of specialty options, the coffee menu is to die for. But don’t stop there; they also have a selection of sandwiches and baked goods to go with your coffee. Before leaving be sure to browse the retail shop for beans by the pound, custom k-pods, or fresh ground coffee.

The Charleston Coffee Exchange is located at the end of Bees Ferry Road at Ashley River Road. It’s about a 15 minute drive from downtown Charleston. There is plenty of parking on site.

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No. 2

Highfalutin Coffee Roasters

Highfalutin Coffee Roasters is a newcomer to Charleston’s coffee scene. The coffee shop is a few minutes from downtown in the West Ashley neighborhood. There’s more outdoor seating than indoor, perfect for about six months of the year.

Order your favorite brew method for craft coffee and savor it in the artsy coffee shop. You can also shop for roasted beans and merchandise, like the funky Llama Tumbler. I am still trying to figure out the story behind the llama.

  • Parking | Parking lot at the coffee shop
  • Address | 27 Magnolia Rd, Charleston, SC 29407
  • Phone | +18435017859
  • Website | https://www.highfalutin.com/

No. 3

Muddy Waters Coffee Bar

Muddy Waters Coffee Bar serves my favorite roasted beans – Counter Culture Coffee from North Carolina. That was the first good choice the owners of the small coffee shop made. The second was investing in a quality coffee machine – La Marzocco GB5.

It’s okay if you don’t know what that means. Just understand that it means a great-tasting coffee every time.

The small coffee shop is on James Island, about ten minutes from downtown. It looks like a typical brick commercial building on the outside. But inside, it’s a cozy place to savor your coffee at the bar in front of a picture window or tables spread throughout the shop.

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No. 4

Mercantile and Mash

Merc and Mash, as they locals call it, is more than just a great place to grab a gourmet coffee. They also have a retail shop selling coffee beans, wine, baked goods, and cookware. They have a full menu with all-day breakfast items, burgers and tacos, and salads. The coffee menu includes espresso, drip and ice coffee, and interestingly they make their own flavored syrups!

Mercantile and Mash offers one amenity that is a rarity for coffee shops in Charleston: free parking. Located inside the recently renovated Cigar Factory along East Bay Street it’s about a five-minute drive from downtown.

  • Favorite Coffee | Mocha Latte
  • Parking | Parking lot at The Cigar Factory
  • Address | 701 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC
  • Phone | 843-793-2636
  • Website | http://www.mercandmash.com
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The one-room City Lights Coffee was a great escape from the Charleston City Market.

No. 5

City Lights Coffee

This whole-in-the-wall locally owned coffee shop is the perfect place to grab some caffeine without the large crowds. They’re a little out of the way about halfway between the Charleston City Market and King Street, which only makes them a gem waiting to be discovered.

They have a pretty robust menu of coffee but I’m particularly fond of the Counter Culture beans they use for their brews. The lattes, made with Counter Culture’s Big Trouble, was a wonderful pick-me-up on a lazy afternoon. There are a couple of bench seats, a single table, and a few seats at the bar to take the load off your feet while you sip the coffee.

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No. 6

The Daily

Fresh baked bread hang on a wall behind the counter at this modern coffee shop and sister to Butcher & Bee. Food is cooked in an open kitchen with comfortable seating surrounding on all sides. The gourmet coffee includes Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a company based in Portland. Drip coffee is a starter but they also have a pretty good selection of espresso drinks, fresh juice, and wine.

The Daily is located in an interesting location right in the middle of the Septima Clark Parkway, also called the Crosstown Boulevard, on King Street. It takes about five minutes to drive there from downtown or, even better, it’s the first place you could visit after exiting Interstate 26 on the peninsula.

  • Parking | Parking lot at the coffee shop
  • Address | 652 B King Street, Charleston, SC
  • Phone | 843-619-0151
  • Website | https://shopthedaily.com

National Park Week 2024

Learn about the annual celebration of the National Park System and read my travel guides to national park units across the country.

No. 7

Sightsee

I was introduced to Sightsee when I spotted a 1974 Volkswagen Bus selling coffee on King Street. In 2019, Allyson Sutton and Joel Sadler founded a funky business melding retail and coffee. On the one hand, you’ll find quality local products and their proprietary lineup of goods. On the other, you can enjoy great craft coffee.

The flagship brick-and-mortar coffee shop is in the Elliotborough neighborhood, about five minutes from downtown Charleston. The address – 125 1/2 Line Street – is one of those quirky things in Charleston when only half a building serves a business or residence.

The only catch about this coffee shop is a need for more seating – indoor or outdoor. It’s coffee to go when you visit Sightsee.

  • Parking | Limited 2-hour parking on Line Street
  • Address | 125½, Line St, Charleston, SC 29403
  • Phone | +18432126538
  • Website | https://www.sightseeshop.com/
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No. 8

Island Provisions

Island Provisions opened its first location on Johns Island in 2020. The business is a cool mixture of craft coffee, food market, local beers, and wine. In 2022, the owners opened a second location in the Cannonborough neighborhood, about five minutes from downtown Charleston.

The coffee menu includes drip, cold brew, and espresso. It was the first time I’d tried a cortado – a Spanish-style coffee consisting of equal parts espresso and warm milk. It’s the perfect coffee if you don’t like the bitter taste inherent in the caffeinated beverage.

The downtown location is a stunning redevelopment of a residential building. Outdoor seating on the piazza wraps you in Charleston’s charm as you enjoy the savory coffee. Plenty of indoor seating is also available to escape those infamously hot summer days.

  • Favorite Coffee | Cortado
  • Parking | Limited 2-hour parking on St. Phillip Street
  • Address | 221 St Philip St, Charleston, SC 29403
  • Phone | +18437180812
  • Website | http://www.islandprovisions.com/
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TOP: The large tables and big picture windows made Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer the perfect workspace for the day. BOTTOM: I’m sure they don’t just do this for me, but I do love how they fill the lattes to the brim.

No. 9

Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer

Kudu is just about my favorite place to visit on the entire Charleston peninsula; it’s the only coffee shop in town where I can get a great latte and craft beer in the same place! They can make coffee almost any way you like it from espresso to macchiato, including my favorite mocha latte they fill to the brim of the glass mug every time. You can also grab an iced coffee, bottled drink, bagels, muffins, and sandwiches. Sit inside at one of the small tables beside the picture windows, or head outside to the reclusive dog-friendly patio.

Another reason Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer is one of my favorites in Charleston is how easy it is to get to. It’s located just off King Street a block from Marion Square, putting it right in the middle of downtown (and near my favorite area of Upper King Street). If you’re driving into the city park at the Marion Square Garage just around the corner.

Inside Tip Upper King Street between Marion Square and Spring Street is the up-and-coming area of Charleston to explore. Local restaurants, shopping, and history just await your arrival. Take a coffee from Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer to go and enjoy the walk.

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No. 10

Mudhouse Specialty Coffee Roasters

John and Lynelle Lawrence are professionally accredited cuppers through the Coffee Quality Institute. The accreditation allows the childhood friends to find high-quality single origin coffees for their Charleston coffee shop.

Most of the owners’ locations are scattered throughout central and northern Virginia, where they started the business. The only location outside of Virginia is in Charleston. The King Street coffee shop is conveniently located near Marion Square in a gorgeous renovated retail building with giant bay windows for peaking inside.

Enjoy one of the savory craft coffees from a comfortable seat on eclectic furniture. Take advantage of the private courtyard behind the shop to enjoy coffee on comfortable days.

  • Parking | Marion Square Parking Garage
  • Address | 375 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
  • Phone | +18435764661
  • Website | http://www.mudhouse.com/

No. 11

Pounce Cat Café

It was only a matter of time before someone came up with the idea of placing adoptable cats in a café with coffee and wine. Pounce Cat Café works with the Charleston Animal Society to provide furry feline companionship while you enjoy your visit to the small shop on Meeting Street.

The coffee selection is bare minimum with only drip coffee and iced coffee options, both from Riptide Coffee Company. The rest of the menu includes sweet tea, craft beer, house wines, and muffins. But really, you know you’ll go there because of the cats.

Located on Meeting Street about a block south of Marion Square, the Pounce Cat Café is smack dab in the middle of three public parking areas. Use the Marion Square Garage, Wentworth Street Garage, or Gaillard Garage.

Inside Tip I highly recommend making a reservation to visit Pounce Cat Cafe. Although not required, because they do accept walk-ins, the cafe limits the number of visitors at any one time to make it safe and comfortable for the cats.

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No. 12

Caviar & Bananas

Caviar & Bananas is one of Charleston’s best quasi-coffee shops. The cafe serves breakfast sandwiches, burritos, salads, and cold-cut sandwiches at lunch.

But it’s also a place to find great craft coffee.

The cafe uses beans locally roasted by Second State Coffee. You can order a drip coffee, cold brew, espresso, or frappe – my favorite coffee on the go. Enjoy the savory drink inside the giant shop on George Street near the College of Charleston.

National Park Week 2024

Learn about the annual celebration of the National Park System and read my travel guides to national park units across the country.

No. 13

The Rise Coffee Bar

The owners of The Rise Coffee Bar call coffee and tea “sippable staples of civilized life.” They use fresh beans from Springbok Coffee Roasters of Brooklyn. The menu includes drip coffee, espresso, latte, and cold brew along with a small selection of tea and food.

Located inside The Restoration Boutique Hotel, The Rise Coffee Bar is pretty easy to get to just off King Street on Wentworth Street. The Wentworth Street Garage is conveniently located next door.

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The fairly decent latte art was only the beginning at Second State Coffee; this mocha latte was delicious to the last drop.

No. 14

Second State Coffee

Second State Coffee is my favorite coffee shop in Charleston for getting work done. The large windows and light-colored walls create a bright and energized workspace. A long wooden table with bench seating in the middle could be a great place for a working coffee break!

Their coffee menu is pretty simple: espresso, pour over, iced. But they are very particular about where they get the beans and include information to help you pick the perfect brew. If you’re not sure, ask; the staff was pretty knowledgeable about counter culture.

Getting to Second State Coffee requires a little hike. The nearest parking is the Wentworth Street Garage about three blocks away. But it’s a beautiful walk through the Harleston Village neighborhood.

  • Favorite Coffee | Mocha Latte
  • Parking | Wentworth Street Parking Garage or Majestic Square Parking Garage
  • Address | 70 ½ Beaufain Street, Charleston, SC
  • Website | https://secondstatecoffee.com
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No. 15

Kaminsky’s Dessert Café

Although pushing the limit of what I consider locally owned, Kaminsky’s Dessert Café is a wonderous amalgamation of coffee, dessert, and alcohol, and not necessarily separately. The café uses King Bean Coffee, a roaster “founded on the simple idea of bringing good coffee to the South.”

The coffee menu includes the standard fare of drip and iced coffee, espresso, and even a Cuban coffee (double shot espresso, sugar in the raw). What makes Kaminsky’s stand out is the expansive dessert menu including milkshakes, floats, and sundaes. Add to that a menu including Irish coffee, key lime pie martinis, and wine by the glass and you have a reason to stay all day.

Kaminsky’s Dessert Café is located on North Market Street beside the Charleston City Market. It’s a great location to take a break from shopping or touring, grab a coffee or dessert, and then continue on your way.

  • Favorite Coffee | Irish Coffee
  • Parking | Cumberland Street Parking Garage
  • Address | 78 North Market Street, Charleston, SC
  • Phone | 843-853-8270
  • Website | https://www.kaminskys.com
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No. 16

Clerks Coffee Company

Clerks Coffee Company is an interesting place to get a great craft coffee, enjoy the open mic night, or test your knowledge during trivia night. There’s plenty of indoor seating in the coffee shop around the corner from Charleston’s City Market.

The menu includes a variety of coffee drinks like espresso and cortado, kombucha, chai tea, and a small selection of breakfast sandwiches.

National Park Week 2024

Learn about the annual celebration of the National Park System and read my travel guides to national park units across the country.

It was an absolute pleasure to chat with Sam and Katie after enjoying a delicious mocha latte at Bitty & Beau’s Coffee.

No. 17

Bitty and Beau’s Coffee

Bitty and Beau’s Coffee has a fascinating and heart-warming origin story. When Amy Wright’s two youngest children were born with Down Syndrome she became a lifelong advocate for including people with developmental disabilities in society. The core belief behind the Bitty and Beau’s franchise is to create a place for people with those disabilities to find an exciting and useful job.

Starting in Wilmington, NC, the Bitty and Beau’s Coffee location on Church Street in Charleston was their second location. It’s just around the corner from the Charleston City Market and directly beside the Cumberland Street Garage.

The menu includes hot and cold brewed coffee, espresso, frappes, and smoothies. The mocha latte was one of the best I’ve ever had, and I think that’s because of the excited barista who made it for me.

  • Favorite Coffee | Mocha Latte
  • Parking | Cumberland Street Parking Garage
  • Address | 159 Church Street, Charleston, SC
  • Phone | 843-609-0455
  • Website | https://www.bittyandbeauscoffee.com/

Inside Tip Grab a coffee to go from Bitty and Beau’s Coffee and go for a scenic walk down Church Street. Stop to explore the graves at the St. Phillips Episcopal Church graveyard, admire the wrought iron architecture at the Dock Street Theatre, and go for a tour of the Heyward Washington House.

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No. 18

Carmella’s Cafe & Dessert Bar

Brian Solari uses secret family recipes to make the savory pastries at Carmella’s Cafe and Dessert Bar. The glass display case tempts visitors with cannolis, tiramisu, shortcakes, and cookies baked daily.

And then there’s the coffee.

The drink menu includes a variety of coffee like drip, espresso, Cubano, cortado, and nitro cold brew. The coffee shop uses locally roasted beans from Springbok Coffee Roasters.

  • My Favorite Coffee | The Red Eye – 12 ounces of coffee with a double shot of espresso
  • Parking | Concord and Cumberland Parking Garage
  • Address | 198 E Bay St STE 100, Charleston, SC 29401
  • Phone | +18437225893
  • Website | http://carmellasdessertbar.com/

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Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
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