A Guide To Raleigh’s Best Coffee Shops From a Raleigh Native

A Guide To Raleigh’s Best Coffee Shops From a Raleigh Native

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NCSU chapter.

As someone who has lived in Raleigh her entire life and enjoyed coffee since freshman year of high school, I have a definitive list of what the best coffee in Raleigh is. I have tried many a latte in my lifetime and love exploring the area to find a new place to find the best coffee. Here are my top five cafes in the Raleigh area. 

Nora cafe

This is my favorite coffee shop in the entire world. In my mind, nothing can beat the atmosphere, quality, and customer service that you can get at NoRa (North Raleigh). Now I might have an incredible amount of bias when it comes to this particular cafe, but I have been coming here since I was 15 years old when it was still called Maude’s Coffee and Garden Emporium. Even with a rebranding, this cafe has been a staple in the Raleigh community for many years. With the increasing problem of finding places for teens and young adults to hang out, NoRa Cafe is the answer to that question. They have an incredible amount of syrup flavors with their classics such as the Lazy Sunday which is a combination of caramel, vanilla, and cinnamon flavors. The coffee is sourced from Carrboro Coffee Roasters which is aptly based in Carrboro, NC. They also source baked goods from other local bakeries around the city including made to order breakfast sandwiches on Michael’s English muffins that are baked fresh in Raleigh. Nora Cafe is the perfect place to sit around and talk with your friends over the perfect cup of coffee. 


Downtown Raleigh is filled with an abundance of coffee shops and it can be hard to weed through all of the options to find the best. Luckily for you, I can tell you that lucettegrace is among the best of the downtown options. Their coffee is wonderfully rich while not being overwhelmingly bitter (Larry’s Coffee–brewed in Raleigh). I highly recommend the lucettegrace iced coffee if you’re looking for something that is sweet and caffeinated. What stands out about lucettegrace is the abundance of wonderful pastries. They are most famous for their macarons, but they have creative combinations of flavors that are unexpectedly amazing. For instance, my favorite pastry is the baklava croissant which is a croissant filled with baklava filling. My mom’s favorite is the nun’ya biscuit which is classic southern biscuit filled with sausage gravy like a savory lava cake. To top it all off, they make their own sourdough as well that you can buy by the loaf. lucettegrace is an incredible option when sorting through Downtown Raleigh coffee shops.  

Cheeni indian food emporium

Technically, this option doesn’t really count as a cafe anymore, but this ever-growing business started out as a cafe in the lobby of the YMCA on Fayetteville Street in Downtown Raleigh. They have Indian Street food, coffee, chai, pastries, and they now serve full dinner plates instead of just snacks. It is owned by Preeti Waas who grew up in India and brought the cuisine straight from her childhood in India. She is one of the warmest people that I have ever met, and even sold groceries at the discounted bulk restaurant prices during the pandemic for people who needed it. To actually talk about the restaurant, the Madras Filter Coffee is different than any cup of coffee you’ve ever had. It is made with a technique that is not often found in Raleigh as it is poured back and forth to aerate the coffee before serving. The food is also incredible and I highly recommend the Street Style Toast and the Veg Puff. Cheeni has moved around the Raleigh area a lot since 2019 when it first opened, but it has always been clear that the quality of both the food and drinks and customer experience has been the most important goal for Preeti and her team.

THe third place

This iconic staple of the Five Points neighborhood in Raleigh has longserved this community with Larry’s coffee and delicious pastries. The Third Place resides nextdoor to Lilly’s Pizza on Glenwood Avenue (which I also highly recommend but that’s a different list). It is a small coffee shop that has wonderful coffe and breakfast sandwiches. The atmosphere is wonderful for sitting around and talking with friends with a good amount of seating that it cultivates through vintage wood furniture. The coffee is wonderful, the food is delicious, and the company you can find there is a sign of a true community. I know people who go every single day and sit there for hours. The Third Place is a fantastic place to see the true culture of Raleigh in one spot. 

The morning times

The second of two Downtown Raleigh coffee shops, The Morning Times is an iconic part of Raleigh culture. It is the sister cafe to the restaurant The Raleigh Times which resides in the building where the newspaper “The Raleigh Times” used to run its business. This small cafe has more than meets the eye with an upstairs that has a good amount of seating. They serve Counter Culture Coffee which is brewed in Durham and their breakfast options are creatively thought out and delicious. I have not stopped thinking about their maple cinnamon latte since I got it last November. One thing to note is that the seating fills up incredibly fast on the weekends and the line goes out the door most mornings. If you don’t want a long wait for coffee, go in the afternoon or right when they open. The Morning Times is a great option for coffee downtown, second to lucettegrace.