Since its beginning as a crossroad of trade routes, Charlotte has grown into one of the most vibrant cities in the country. Particularly in the past decade, local business of flourished throughout eclectic neighborhoods. One of the largest types of growth in the city has been the coffee scene – and I set out to visit all the local coffee shops in Charlotte.
Spread throughout the city – Uptown, NoDa, South End – the locally owned coffee shops strive to create the best crafted beverages from locally roasted beans. Each shop has an interesting story to tell and atmosphere to experience while enjoying that caffeinated brew.
This list is in alphabetical order because I couldn’t bring myself to put them in any sort of order by awesomeness. All these coffee shops were my favorite – otherwise they would not be on this list at all. Browse through this list of awesome coffee shops in Charlotte, North Carolina – then, leave me a comment below and tell me which is your favorite!
Amelie’s French Bakery & Café
Bruce Willette, Brenda Ische, and Bill Lamb knew exactly what the North Davidson community – the locals call it NoDa – needed. French-inspired pastries and fantastic coffee. With the core concept of their business established, the trio opened a location in NoDa in 2007.
They cover the spectrum on coffee beverages, offering espresso, drip coffee, and iced coffees. My favorite aspect of their coffee is the house made syrups and sauces – I could definitely taste the difference with my usual mocha latte.
Beyond the coffee, the bakery menu will leave the most steadfast person indecisive. Croissants, cinnamon rolls, muffins, and macaroons are just a tiny sample of the menu. The fresh baked food is put on display is large glass cases – pardon the smears, I couldn’t decided what I wanted.
Each location of Amelie’s has comfortable indoor and outdoor seating. Great places to get some work done, hang out with friends and family, or just savor every last drop and bite of whatever you ordered.
2424 N. Davidson Street, Charlotte, NC | 704-376-1781
7715 Pineville Matthews Road, Unit 34B, Charlotte, NC | 704-376-1782
4321 Park Road, Charlotte, NC | 704-405 0570
Central Coffee Co.
Central Coffee Co. has two locations – one in Plaza Midwood and the other, my favorite, in the South End. Located on Camden Road, parking is always at a premium and difficult to find, but fortunately the East/West Station for the LYNX is only a block away.
Walking into the coffee shop, you’re immediately greeted by the smell of roasted coffee and fresh pastries. The dark wood paneling along the bar and chalkboard menu painted onto the wall create a modern chic décor. At first, the coffee shops seems small with only a few tables and chairs – but peak around the corner and you’ll find a sitting room that doubles the seating.
Quiche, scones, and muffins are made fresh every day. The beans are roasted at Joe Van Goh Coffee Roasters in nearby Hillsborough and ground fresh for each coffee served. French press, drip coffee, espresso – you can get your morning fix just about any way you want.
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Coco and the Director
“Why is this called Coco and the Director?” It was the first question I had after ordering my typical mocha latte – hot – in a mug. The barista laughed pleasantly. “Because this is a co-working space, serving locally roasted coffee, and a community place for gathering. And you’re the director!” I could tell it was a well-rehearsed answer she had given a thousand times before, but she was still so darn excited to give it!
The locally roasted coffee and house-made chocolate syrup made for an amazing mocha latte. I had my choice of coffee mugs from a small selection – I chose a simple brown ceramic mug, mostly because it looked like the largest and I wanted plenty of caffeine. I wasn’t limited to just a latte, though – their menu included cold brew, nitro, pour over, and aeropress. The only espresso bean used came from local roaster Forte Legato, but all the other roasts roate throughout the year.
I pulled out my MacBook Pro at the large co-working table. The ginormous table had enough seating for ten people and outlets for charging devices. A row of small, round tables lined the large picture windows overlooking the street – the perfect place to watch the city moving outside.
The most interesting feature of Coco and the Director was the tiered seating. Three levels alongside a gentle staircase were decorated with throw pillows – it was an interesting place to enjoy a coffee and food. At the top of the stairs, a small perch overlooking the coffee shop offered the most seclusion if you just want to get out of the way to enjoy the savory caffeinated beverage.
Crema Espresso Bar & Café
The first thing to understand about Crema Espresso Bar & Café is that they also have a wide variety of teas – over thirty types. The second thing to understand is that everything is prepared with the finest ingredients and utmost attention to create a fantastic experience.
Located in the Dilworth neighborhood, this coffee shop is one of the few that offers its own parking. Sharing spaces with a shopping center, it is easy to find and usually easy to get a parking space. Inside, a live edge wood table and comfortable armchairs offer comfortable seating.
Founded by the mother and daughter team of Elena and Alexis Mizrahi, they began with Royal Café & Creperie – and today those same crepes are served fresh at Crema Espresso Bar & Café. The beans are roasted locally and sometimes change, but you can always find information about them once you arrive.
Enderly Coffee Co.
The owners at Enderly Coffee Co. wanted to create more than just another coffee shop in Charlotte – they wanted to be the lightning rod that spawned even more coffee shops. In the small space in a brick building shared with a chiropractor, the coffee company roasts their own beans, offers Specialty Coffee Association training, sells equipment, and has a small space for serving their product directly to the public.
It was quiet when I visited – but that was to be expected with an odd location in the Enderly Park neighborhood about 10 minutes from Uptown Charlotte. Large picture windows flood the space with natural light, creating an invigorating environment. Concrete floors contrasted against beautiful local artwork on the walls. The real wood tables with iron pipe legs and fittings added an industrial theme to the décor.
As I approached the counter to place my order, the barista smiled and asked, “What can I get you, friend?” Only seconds inside the coffee shop and I was already a friend. I liked this. The mocha latte was savory with a subtle hint of sweetness – I think bold is the word I would choose to describe this particular taste. It was a taste I enjoyed twice before leaving.
I wasn’t sure what to make of The Hobbyist. Climbing a few steps from the parallel parking on North Davidson Street, I walked through a rolled-up garage door. The bright interior featured racks of wine, exposed rafters in the ceiling, and a long bar occupied by a few locals. I gingerly approached the counter and asked, “Do you make coffee here?”
“We sure do! What would you like?” The Hobbyist is one of only a few places in Charlotte that features coffee and alcohol throughout the day – well, I think you must wait until noon to get the alcohol.
Behind a brilliant white marble countertop, the nice gentleman worked with deftness to make a mocha latte. Espresso, pour over, and drip coffee are available throughout the day from the coffee shop owned by locals Bryson and Julie Woodside. In addition, over 20 craft beers on tap and a full bottle shop provide other opportunities to get a drink while working remotely.
Julia’s Café & Books
Julia’s Café & Books is not quite the typical coffee shop – it’s located in a corner of the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Named after Julia Maulden – the found of Habitat for Humanity Charlotte – the small coffee shop benefits Habitat’s goal of providing low-cost homes to the needy.
The coffee shop serves up savory caffeinated drinks using beans from Magnolia Coffee Co., a local Charlotte roaster. The coffee is fantastic considering the location – it was easily one of the best mocha lattes I found in the Queen City.
While waiting for the fresh coffee, browse the stacks of used books on quirky green shelves. Books range from $1.25 – $5.98 – it was a massive collection that changes almost every week with new donations. After getting your coffee, head upstairs for cozy seating while savoring the coffee to the last drop.
Mugs Coffee is a perfect example of an urban coffee shop in one of Charlotte’s many suburbs. Located in the Park Selwyn Shopping Center in the South Park area of the city, the brick façade, metal and glass doors, and cute awning welcome visitors.
Inside, the long and narrow coffee shop features a marbled concrete floor, subtle yellow walls, and contrasting dark wood tables and black leather chairs. The color scheme works well to create a calming atmosphere, a place where I was able to write for an hour without distraction.
The coffee shop uses beans roasted by Magnolia Coffee Co., a local roaster in nearby Matthews. Pastries are made in-house and served fresh daily.
Not Just Coffee
Not Just Coffee in the 7th Street Market in Uptown Charlotte was my introduction to Counter Culture Coffee. The Durham based roasting company was started in 1995 by a pair of UNC graduates and focuses on organic and responsible coffee blends. In the 7th Street Market, I picked up the first mocha latte made with their espresso beans – Big Trouble – and it changed everything for me.
In 2011, Miracle and James Yoder opened the first Not Just Coffee location in Charlotte – today they have six locations spread throughout the city’s suburbs. Baristas are specially trained to offer coffee in a variety of manners including pour over, French press, and all sorts of espresso drinks.
The 7th Street Market location is my favorite because it’s Uptown and located beside a LYNX station. There is ample seating inside at the bar surrounding the coffee shop or tables throughout the market. It’s a great place to hang out before or after exploring Uptown – I personally recommend both.
In English, salud cerverceria means “healthy brewery.” At this point, you may be scratching your head wondering how Salud Cerveceria ended up on a list of best coffee shops in Charlotte.
That’s because they have a coffee shop on the second floor.
The Salud Beer Shop is a taste bar and retail shop stocked with an assortment of craft beers. But hours before locals and tourists saddle up to a bar stool, the coffee shop above is working hard to serve savory caffeinated drinks.
It’s one of the most cozy and comfortable coffee shops in Charlotte. The expansive second floor features several ginormous real wood tables with bench seating, highchairs at two bars, and a “living space” in the corner with leather armchairs and couches covered in throw pillows. The faux hardwood floor shines brightly with natural light from a few squat windows, aided by the daylight balanced lightbulbs.
Coffee is not the focus of Salud Cerverceria – but it was still pretty good. HEX Coffee Roasters’ beans – a local roastery – are ground fresh for every serving. Premium syrups are used for flavor. And the latte art is impeccable.
Salud Ceveceria is the vigilante of the coffee shop scene in Charlotte – by day the second floor space is a cozy coffee shop, but by night the space comes alive as a craft beer bar.
Smelly Cat Coffeehouse & Roastery
As far as I could tell, there are no smelly cats at the Smelly Cat Coffeehouse & Roastery – but dogs were certainly welcome. The coffee shop is frequented by a younger crowd eager to explore the art galleries and restaurants of NoDa – the North Davidson neighborhood northeast of Uptown Charlotte.
Outdoor seating was plentiful under the covered porch on the side of the rustic coffee shop – but I found a comfortable chair among many others under the shade of a giant tree. Resting my feet on the mulch, I watched people coming and going for their coffee and sharing stories and greeting one another.
Smelly Cat roasts their own coffee beans using a “sensory roasting based” process, which means someone just really knows coffee beans. Those freshly roasted beans and then freshly ground for each coffee ordered. The beans come from all over the world – Africa, Asia, Central America – and are used to create all types of coffee concoctions to enjoy.
Pulling into the twisty parking lot, I thought Stable Hand was familiar, but I didn’t recognize the name. During a previous visit to Charlotte years ago, it was Good Bottle Shop, a great place to find local craft beer and regional wine. Today, Stable Hand occupies the same space from the same owners but focuses more on a comfortable space to enjoy coffee and craft beer on tap.
The walls and shop shelves were painted white – allowing the natural light from the glass doors to create a bright and airy space. Bleached hardwood tables and white plastic chairs added to the environment, creating a cozy place to sit for awhile and get some work done.
Stable Hand uses beans from local Hex Coffee Roasters. Fresh ground for every serving, the mocha latte was fairly nice – but I had never seen so many bubbles in the foam topping. Soft music played from hidden speakers in the exposed rafter ceiling and fantastic insulation muffled the sound of neverending traffic outside.
125 Remount Road, Charlotte, NC | www.stablehandclt.com
The Suffolk Punch
The Suffolk Punch is one of the most interesting businesses in Charlotte – it’s a place where visitors can find a coffee shop, taphouse, brewery, and restaurant all under one roof. The goal at this locally owned establishment was to create a space for the South End community to enjoy throughout the day and into the wee hours of the night.
The full-service coffee bar offers the caffeinated drink in a variety of manners and almost certainly can make your favorite brew. They rotate through a variety of roasted beans, although none of them are roasted locally.
Once you have a fresh coffee and something from the food menu, finding a place to sit will be the easiest of any coffee shop in Charlotte. A spacious facility offers comfortable booth seating inside and picnic tables outside beneath the shade of sails.
Todd and Erin Huber have one of the most moving life stories I’ve ever read – something I was told long before I visit their coffee shop in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood of Charlotte. Stepping inside Undercurrent Coffee, I could instantly feel connected to the oceans’ currents – a nod to the Hubers’ native Florida.
Opened in 2015, the lifelong lovers of coffee devoted their new business to responsible sourcing and the highest quality. Beans are supplied by local roasteries across the country and only the best machinery is used in the shop. Syrups and sauces are made in-house and ingredients for their small food menu are sourced locally.
Nearly wall-sized picture windows allow natural light to flood into the large coffee shop. Vibrant blue armchairs and couches stand out against the pastel walls and faux hardwood floors. A series of alcoves and small tables provide excellent workspaces – the woman sitting at the table beside me did data entry for a local medical practice.
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Tony and Annie Vo opened the original Waterbean Coffee years ago in Cornelius, a small lakefront community north of Charlotte. Since then, they have expanded into Huntersville and five locations in Charlotte. But the biggest expansion of all was in Tony’s native Vietnam where he opened a location that features an aquarium and retractable roof.
The Midtown neighborhood location was the easiest in the city to access. The parking garage was free to use – but I had to fight for a space with a few Trade Joe’s customers. Walking just a couple of minutes from where I parked, I entered Waterbean Coffee through large glass doors.
The all-glass front wall allowed natural light to flood the small coffee shop, creating an invigorating environment for getting some work done. With a fresh mocha latte, I settled into a comfortable table with my laptop and began writing the words you are reading.
All the coffee beans are roasted at their Huntersville location and ground fresh for every serving. The mocha latte was made with Zuma dark chocolate powder – one I had not heard of before but tasted wonderful. In addition to the coffee selection, Waterbean Coffee also offers a variety of teas.