Best Coffee Shops in Charlotte, NC: Part I

National Coffee Day.

That day is today.
Quite honestly today feels no different to me from any other day as I have come to have a special appreciation for coffee.  You could call it a love but I think I almost love the idea of drinking coffee more than the actual drink itself.  The experience, the environment, the warm happy feelings.  It’s all lovely.

I’ve lived in Charlotte for just about nine months now, and a good percentage of that time has been spent in coffee shops.  Whether I’m writing, doing research, or planning my next trip, I love the atmosphere of small, local coffeehouses.  I’ve enjoyed seeking out my favorite of these gems and getting to know the vibe that each one features.  Below are a few of the many coffee shops that can be found in and around Charlotte.  They feature interesting people, good jams, and delicious smelling pastries, and keep me focused and productive for hours on end.  Below is a brief list of my favorite five coffeeshops so far.  Notice the terms “so far” and “Part 1” meaning that the quest never ends, and there will be more!  Let me know of your own favorites, because I’m always on the lookout everywhere I go!

Central Coffee

I first visited this place when I would come down to Charlotte for a long weekend and my boyfriend would have to go in to work.  It was right down the street from his office and his apartment, and we would often meet for coffee after he got off work.  It has a small interior with not a lot of seating- just a handful of small tables, a seating area in the back, and a small counter bar at the front window.  However, outlets were always available and the staff is friendly and easy to start a conversation with.  Parking is also very limited in the lot, but the side street has free parking if you are willing to walk a block or two.

CoCo and the Director

CoCo has become a part of our weekly routine.  Located in Uptown, Charlotte, CoCo is about three blocks away from our church and therefore the perfect place to grab a cup (our personal favorite is the Dirty Chai), and spend a couple hours chatting, relaxing, and preparing for our week.  In addition to my love for delicious warm beverages, I love reading.  Even more than going to a bookstore and selecting a brand new book to devour, I find extra enjoyment in browsing the shelves of used bookstores or Little Free Libraries.  CoCo features a bookcase where you can sift through books other customers have left.  I check this shelf weekly and have certainly ~borrowed~ my fair share.  I always return them after completion, or drop another book in its place.

As if warm cozy drinks and new-used books weren’t enough, CoCo has a very unique set-up.  The coffeshop can be found off the Marriott hotel lobby, and features a co-lab space specifically designed for community collaboration.  Project groups, team meetings, or a large group of friends planning a reunion can sign up on a chalkboard for a designated time and use the provided space as their own.  The main seating area includes a set of exaggerated stairs with pillows and cushions strewn about, making it the ideal lounging spot.  CoCo and the Director is definitely a favorite for the fun and unique atmosphere.  And also delicious beverages.

Sunflour Baking Company

Located on 7th Street in Elizabeth, Sunflour looks like its name sounds: bright and cheerful.  Large windows, green walls, bold floral prints, and sunflowers make the room open, airy, and fun.  Sunflour’s menu features a large selection of breakfast options, sandwiches, pastries and other assorted bakery goods, and coffee and tea drinks.  This is definitely the place to go if you like getting something different each time and you’re tired of the same old typical muffin options.  It’s also in close walking distance to Independence Park- perfect for enjoying your coffee outside picnic-style!

The company has another location on East Boulevard but I have yet to visit that shop.

Not Just Coffee

There are currently four locations open (with another coming soon!) of Not Just Coffee.  Natural wood tables with steel frames, white walls, green plants.  Clean, modern, simple.  That’s easily how I would describe NJC.  The girlfriend of a friend of my boyfriend (got that?) is the ~heiress~ to the company, as her parents are the owners and founders.  We love to support local business, especially when we know the people involved.  NJC is definitely the coffeeshop for working.  People are quick to enter and exit if they’re not staying, and those that do stay are busy and focused.  Let’s just say, if they’re about to open up their 5th!!! location, they must have this coffee thing down.

Smelly Cat Coffee House and Roastery

No matter your feelings on coffee, the name of this fun place is intriguing enough.  Personally, it reminds me of Friends.  How can it not?? They spent 95% of their time in a coffeeshop, and Phoebe’s song “Smelly Cat” is legendary.  Putting the Friends reference aside (which  I’m not entirely sure is intentional or not??), it should come at no surprise to find that this funky little coffee shop is located in Noda, Charlotte’s fun, eclectic, artsy neighborhood in North Davidson.  Partnering with local artists, this company provides a fresh, passionate, and community-oriented environment.  Even if you don’t frequent Noda often, this place is definitely worth checking out.  Grab a chai latte and go for a stroll around the neighborhood, taking in the awesome street art murals.


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