Hey guys! Today’s post is by my first-ever Queen Bee guest blogger and my pal, Alisha. Alisha is a total boss and is always on the go. She mentioned one day that she has tried almost every coffee shop in Raleigh because that is her preferred work location and a light bulb went off in my head because I knew that would be a great write-up. Thankfully, she agreed and here we are.
Without any further adieu, here are the best coffee shops to work at in Raleigh as told by Alisha Aerni.
Not everyone consumes their coffee the same way or *takes a picture of every liquid they consume* like I do. Some of us prefer no-nonsense options like a black drip coffee with no cream or sugar. Some of us drink iced coffee in the middle of winter
When I started bouncing from coffee shop to coffee shop, I kept a few things in mind for places to make it onto my list of regular stops. But once I realized I wanted to write about the best coffee shops in town, I made a point system to make things interesting because who doesn’t love a friendly competition? I am aware that not everyone goes to coffee shops for the same reasons as me and this list is completely an opinion piece. But I also know that there are plenty of us that work remotely in this millennium for my list to matter.
Now, the point system starts off pretty basic. A point for great service, coffee quality, bean quality, and wifi quality. Then for the rest of the points, things get a little more detail-oriented since most, if not all, of the local Raleigh coffee
Easy parking was the next step up for a great coffee shop in my rotation. My coffee addiction is expensive already, so adding 2 dollars for parking to the budget when I could have gotten an extra shot of espresso instead is not something I take too lightly.
The next thing the shops could get an extra point for was the overall aesthetic. I don’t like to judge a book by its cover but since we are past knowing the coffee tastes great, I think having an aesthetic is important for any successful coffee shop. Because if influencers aren’t coming to your coffee shop solely to take content photos are you even doing it right?
Having a designated space in a coffee shop for the people that need quiet for studying and working is some next level stuff. I never noticed how loud I talked about the Kardashians until I was accidentally in that area and was rightfully judged for it. But like I said, not everyone goes to coffee shops for the same reasons and having a space for the gossiping hens and a space for the people writing the screenplay they think will for sure be the next Godfather, deserves an extra point.
The last chance to get an extra point in my coffee shop rating system is having a food option. I am the kind of person that forgets to take care of themselves when they are stressed, busy or tired so basically, that’s a majority of the time. So when I pull up to a coffee shop ready to work and realize I didn’t eat breakfast, knowing I can buy a muffin or a granola parfait to tie me over till dinner gets you an extra point. Putting a breakfast burrito on your menu gets you like five extra points (I’m looking at you, The Morning Times).
Now let the games begin! We are starting with number 7 and working our way to number 1 just how VH1 would want it to be done:
#7 Liquid State (@liquidstateraleigh)
- Hours: Monday thru Friday – 7am to 9pm, Saturday – 8am to 9pm, Sunday – 9am to 7pm
- Address: 1908 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607
I hope the students at NC State know how good they’ve got it because if I had a coffee shop like Liquid State on campus when I was in school, I would have been an everyday regular. The aesthetic is modern but vintage; clean with a very relaxed vibe. The
All of those amazing things had Liquid State pretty high up on my list for places to work remotely. The first few times I went were pretty early on weekdays. But then I showed up to finish up some writing on a Sunday morning and suddenly remembered Liquid State is a campus coffee shop. The place was swarmed with college students finishing up their homework for the upcoming week. Suddenly, there was nowhere to sit in my favorite coffee shop and I was the odd man out. I ordered my latte and croissant to-go then headed back home and I’ve been struggling to find the perfect time to work at Liquid State ever since. If I have any early weekday projects to work on or am just meeting a friend to chat, then Liquid State will be on the top of my list.
#6 The Third Place Coffee Shop (@thethirdplacecoffeeshop)
- Hours: Monday thru Friday – 6am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday – 7am to 5pm
- Address: 1811 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27608
My favorite reason to set up shop at Third Place is 100 percent because I feel like I’m
Speaking of iced lattes, Third Place has one of the
#5 Sola Coffee Cafe (@solacoffee)
- Hours: Monday thru Thursday – 6:30am to 8pm, Friday – 6:30am to 9pm, Saturday – 7am to 5pm, Sunday – CLOSED
- Address: 7705 Lead Mine Road, Raleigh, NC 27615
The first thing I thought when I walked into Sola was “Did Joanna Gaines come to Raleigh and open up a coffee shop?” because that’s how gorgeous and put together this place is. If it weren’t for the lack of painted shiplap I would have bet good money that the Gaines ditched Waco for Raleigh and opened up Sola. There is tons of natural light, everything is white with hints of dark wood plus the perfect amount of pops of color and they made sure every space in the shop has a purpose. If you live in the Raleigh area, I don’t even have to mention the ‘I Believe in Raleigh’ mural on the side of the building because everyone and their grandma has Instagrammed a picture of them in front of it. They have marketed their whole business around that saying (including merchandise available to purchase with said logo) and it has clearly
The hot and iced lattes I ordered were both perfectly creamy and bitter at the same time. The smash avocado toast made me so happy that I slept in too long to feed myself breakfast. But the no wifi hours (from 9 am to 1 pm) made me not so happy I had crawled out of bed, put on pants and driven twenty minutes just to drain my hot spot data. I totally understand and respect a coffee shop’s decision for wifi hours because I’m that asshole who sit at their establishment for hours on end taking up a table their busy coffee shop could use for more customers. But between that, the lack of plugs for dying computers in need of some juice and it not being centrally located in downtown Raleigh, it didn’t hit the top of my particular list.
With that being said, Sola deserves all of the attention it gets in Raleigh. The service is friendly and timely, the parking is convenient, and the food went to infinity and beyond. If I had a late work day or needed to impress a client, Sola would be an obvious choice.
#4 The Morning Times (@themorningtimes)
- Hours: Monday thru Friday – 6:30am to 10pm, Saturday and Sunday – 7:30am to 10pm
- Address: 10 East Hargett Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
I don’t think I can write about The Morning Times without mentioning their breakfast burrito because IT’S THAT GOOD. If you haven’t had it, please, go try it and add some chorizo in my honor. But this isn’t a ‘Best Breakfast Burrito in Raleigh’ blog post. So after finishing my burrito in two bites, I had to swallow my biased taste buds and let the rest of my senses have a say. The Morning Times is everything you’d want in a downtown coffee shop. The service is quick but the staff is always friendly, the drip coffee is as delicious as their fancy espresso drinks, which not all cafes remember to do, and their aesthetic is Instagram-worthy without trying too hard.
If I worked in an office downtown and walked to The Morning Times every day for my morning cup of joe, it would probably be number one on this list. But in my line of work, I could spend up to 6 hours in a coffee shop that I have to commute to. The parking in downtown Raleigh, on East Hargett
But even with those two problems, The Morning Times deserves every bit of your time and your money. While I won’t be spending a lot of my work hours there you know for damn sure there will be weekend hours spent there with a breakfast burrito in one hand and an iced coffee in the other.
#3 Heirloom Brewshop (@heirloombrewshop)
- Hours: Monday thru Thursday – 7am- 10pm, Friday and Saturday – 7am- 11pm, Sunday – 7am- 10pm
- Address: 219 South West Street, Raleigh, NC 27603
Heirloom was the coffee shop that every new friend I made wanted to meet up at. Pictures of people in the bright and airy shop popped up on my news feed every day. Plus, Heirloom is located in one of the hottest areas of Raleigh with neighbors like Morgan Street Food Hall, O-Ku Sushi, and the Dillon luxury apartments.
I was almost taken aback by the borderline perfect aesthetic when I finally got to walk through their doors. The floor-to-ceiling front windows bring in the brightest of natural lighting even on a rainy day, the natural wood details make you feel like you’re on the west coast and the mostly all-white decor makes every morning spent there feel like a fresh start. But it also made me feel as if I had to dress like I was ready for a seven-page feature in Vogue. Maybe it’s just me but sometimes I like to roll out of bed, brush my teeth and head out the door to grab a coffee and just solely focus on work. Heirloom is almost like a supermodel at a party full of normal looking humans. Everyone wants pictures with her but she is almost too intimidatingly beautiful to hang around for too long before questioning your own vanity.
But I have no beef with the supermodel named Heirloom. The trendy coffee shop has personable service, amazing classic coffee, unique concoctions like their honey cinnamon latte, awesome food options and they have everything you would need to comfortably write your next blog post there. The parking situation isn’t ideal but it also isn’t as bad as the central downtown coffee shops that only offer paid street parking. There are at least options with metered street parking, two-hour free street parking and a parking garage conveniently located next door to Heirloom. I will definitely be spending a lot of time there for client meetings, photo shoots and on mornings I feel like hopping on the runway with Heirloom.
#2 Fig (@figraleigh)
- Hours: Monday and Tuesday – 7am to 5pm, Wednesday and Thursday- 7am to 10pm, Friday and Sunday – 7am to 12am
- Address: 1000 Brookside Drive #109, Raleigh, NC 27604
edit from the future: since the posting of this list, Fig has unfortunately closed
up shop. It was all of a sudden and seemingly out-of-the-blue. We will miss Fig!!
Fig was actually the first coffee shop I worked remotely at in Raleigh and it set a pretty high bar for the rest of the cafes in town. Not that this is the most important thing to start with but driving there and finding parking was so easy. So easy that I stupidly assumed the rest of the places in town would be equally as stress-free. Everything about Fig was stress-free the first, second and millionth time I went. The aesthetic is very modern and dark which makes sitting in one of their circle booth tables for hours very inviting. But it also makes you want to show up in an adorable outfit to take the perfect Instagram coffee moment. And if you do end up bringing your camera to snap a few cute pictures, the staff don’t make you feel like a narcissistic manic which gives them all of the points.
The only point Fig lost on my list was for their food options. They have some fruit and scones to get you by but nothing too exciting. In their defense, they aren’t going for the classic coffee shop vibes. The cafe organically transforms into a social cocktail club once people swap their cup of coffee for a gin & tonic. Food seems to be something they put aside to focus on creating an all-day social club.
It is slightly hard to be writing this post because Fig feels like a hidden gem that I don’t want to share with the rest of the Raleigh yet. While they’ve all been fighting for parking and paying an extra dollar or two for coffee downtown, I’ve been sipping on perfectly-crafted lattes at Fig and getting all of my work done without breaking a sweat.
#1 BREW Coffee Bar (@brewcoffeebar_nc)
- Hours: Monday thru Friday – 7am to 6pm, Saturday – 8am to 7pm, Sunday – 9am to 5pm
- Address: 111 Seaboard Avenue #116, Raleigh, NC 27604 (plus a location in Cary)
The craziest thing about Brew Coffee Bar being my number one pick is that when I moved here, it wasn’t the place everyone was talking about or recommending. Even when I went there for the first time I didn’t know how well-rounded Brew was as a coffee shop until I went to a few of the overly-hyped ones. That being said, I’ve found myself thinking about their lattes late at night when coffee should be the last thing on my mind. For remote workers, Brew hits every single mark that we need to get shit done.
Every corner in the Seaboard BREW location is remote worker friendly. They have a very quiet back area for the nerds that actually get work done and don’t reward themselves with a Buzzfeed quiz every time they answer a work email. Then a coffee bar for old friends catching up or the front area for anyone in between. Bonus points for every area having the perfect amount of plugs so no one has to fight to charge their laptop. The aesthetic was inviting but not intimidating. I felt as comfortable walking in wearing the clothes I slept in the night before to meet a co-worker as I did in a well thought-out outfit meeting a new friend. Plus they work with some amazing local vendors for small snacks like Little Blue macarons or banana bread from Sweet Peak. The rest of the points were easily earned. The staff is always helpful and never judges my lack of brain cell usage before 11 am, there is plenty of free off-street parking, and above all the coffee is killer.
After months of trying 15+ coffee shops in Raleigh, several dozen cups of coffee, only like five Morning Times breakfast burritos, we have our answer. So, if I ever go missing send the cops to BREW first and to my home office second.
Before I go I just wanted to say thank you our queen Bailey Bee for inviting me to share a little piece of my brain on here. My adoration for local businesses and coffee meshed together and created this love child of a blog post. I went on a quest through Raleigh and made my way through some amazing places. I want to praise my amazing friends (@taymodonnell, @nrich14, @alliewears, @burlyandpuff, @champagneandbluejeans & @kiararuth) who drove all over town to help me nail down this list.
There are plenty of other great coffee shop options if you’re looking to do more than just work. If you are looking for somewhere to reconnect with a friend for lunch, I’d recommend
My next coffee shops to conquer are in the Durham area so I hope you guys aren’t sick of me *taking pictures of every liquid I consume* while I avoid getting a 9-to-5 job.