Apartment Living BlogFood & Entertaining › Finding Charlotte’s Most Unique Coffee Shops

With finance as one of the major industries in Charlotte, my beloved Queen City can be a bit corporate and stiff at times. Thankfully, that buttoned up attitude doesn’t extend into the city’s rich coffee culture. Sure, there are more Starbucks and Caribou Coffee joints than us Charlotteans would like to admit. However, tucked away in neighborhoods throughout town are independent coffeehouses where creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit flourishes.

Here are some of Charlotte’s most unique coffee shops:

FABO Coffee Art Bar

FABO Coffee Art Bar is one of Charlotte’s best kept secrets when it comes to coffee shops. Nestled in a corner of Quail Corners Shopping Center in South Charlotte, this little café serves some serious coffee inspiration from their locally roasted coffee to their art studded walls. In the back of the café is a room dedicated to selling art —all produced by North Carolina artists. If you’d rather imbibe than get a caffeine kick, FABO sells craft beer and wine, making it a great space for trivia on Thursdays or live music on the weekends.

Twitter: @fabocafe

Brakeman’s Coffee & Supply

While we’re on the fringes of Charlotte, let’s talk about Brakeman’s Coffee & Supply. Charlotte’s newest coffee shop is filling the huge gap in coffee shops that downtown Matthews desperately needed plugged. Housed in a 1925 bungalow, Brakeman’s offers plenty of space both indoors and in their lawn for catching up with friends, getting lost in a novel, or pumping out some work. In the evenings, the caffeine fuels live music and relaxing vibes. Brakeman’s coffee comes from Summit Coffee in Davidson and Methodical Coffee in Greenville.

Twitter: @brakemanscoffee

Smelly Cat Coffee

If you haven’t been to Smelly Cat Coffee in the historic NoDa neighborhood, you’ve at least heard of it before. There’s good reason why. Not only is Smelly Cat the longest operating coffeehouse in Charlotte, but they are also one of only a few in Charlotte that roasts their own coffee (all of which is ethically sourced). In addition to standard coffee shop offerings, Smelly Cat pours four cold brew coffees from their taps. They sell over 50-gallons of it on the weekends!

Twitter: @SmellyCatCoffee

HEX Espresso Bar

As a beer guy, I couldn’t think of a better spot for a coffee shop than HEX Espresso Bar. Hex is located inside Good Bottle Co, one of South End’s most popular bottle shops. You can get your caffeine fix at Hex while catching up on email and then head back to the beer bar at Good Bottle to meet your friends for happy hour. Hex offers a modern twist on coffee. As they roast all of their own beans, they look to develop the flavors rather than impart them. The end result is coffee that is bright and more vibrant than what you’re used to. Check out their seasonal bean, seasonal cold brew, or seasonal coffee soda.

Twitter: @hexcoffee

Rush Espresso Café and Wine Bar

Okay all you winos out there… I didn’t want to leave you hanging. Rush Espresso Café and Wine Bar is your spot to get both your coffee and wine fix. With two locations in Charlotte – Ballantyne Village and Brevard Court —Rush is a convenient place to meet up with friends before, during, or after work. Rush also serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, cooking up everything from flatbreads to rib-eyes.

Twitter: @RushEspresso

Mugs Coffee

Mugs Coffee is my go to place to get work done —whether that’s meeting with colleagues or cranking out a few hours on my laptop. The café is big enough to find a quiet corner or to reserve a table for group meetings. There are also plenty of outlets located throughout the shop to keep your gadgets charged while you work. Mugs isn’t all work and no play though. There are plenty of evening events like poetry slams, knitting groups, and game nights.

Julia’s Café & Books

While many coffee shops claim to be socially responsible by serving ethically sourced coffee, Julia’s Café & Books takes their claims a step further. The coffeeshop and used book store is located in a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. All proceeds go towards supporting Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte. And, everything Julia’s sells comes from local producers and is organic. Drink that cup of coffee and feel good about it, too!

Twitter: @juliascoffee

Not Just Coffee

Not Just Coffee is unique in Charlotte for its locations alone. Both of their spots are located in shared spaces —the 7th Street Public Market in Uptown and the Atherton Mill Market in Southend. Sipping a cup of java at their coffee bars is reminiscent of sipping an espresso at La Boqueria Food Market in Barcelona. They lend that European appeal that we so need in our food and coffee culture here in Charlotte.

Twitter: @NotJCoffeeClt

Whatever your coffee shop needs are, you’re sure to meet them in Charlotte’s proud, independent coffee shops. If you plan to continue well into the night, Charlotte has cocktail lounges worth a glass clink…or two!

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About :

Bryan M. Richards is a beer, food, and travel writer based in Charlotte. His work has appeared in Men’s Journal, Beer Advocate, and just about anything with the word Charlotte in it. Follow his food and drink adventures on Instagram.

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