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The 13 Best Coffee Shops in Durham, NC

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on February 14, 2023.

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As travel writers who usually work on the go, coffee shops often serve as our office. This means we’ve probably spent a lot of time working in Durham coffee shops! So here are our recommendations for the best coffee shops in Durham, NC.

Thanks to numerous weekday and weekend mornings and afternoons writing about North Carolina travel for you, we want to share the best places to grab a cup of joe in Bull City!

And since they inhabit a city known for innovation and cultural spunk, these places are known for more than just roasted beans. You’ll see why when perusing our favorite coffee shops in Durham.

A few of these places are also featured in our guide covering things to do in Durham. They’re some of the most awesome spots to visit in Central North Carolina.

Coffee Shops in Durham NC

Note: We know there are a lot of incredible locally owned places to choose from; these coffee shops are ones that we think offer something extra special or are the perfect place to get some work done.

Cocoa Cinnamon

Website | 420 W Geer St, 2013 Chapel Hill Road, & 2627 Hillsborough Rd

Best Durham Coffee Shops Cocoa Cinnamon Image

Cocoa Cinnamon is the OG Durham coffee shop. Starting from humble beginnings as a bike cart, this place’s three locations not only serve eccentric and thoughtfully created coffee items, but they’re also invested in the community.

One example is Cocoa Cinnamon’s encouragement of those able to donate toward Community Coffee for those who cannot afford it.

The vibe in each location is similar, yet different, focusing on representing the community in which it lives. On the menu, you’ll find worldly options and drinks named after the “history and the characters that inspire us.”

From decadent drinking chocolate to handmade churros (at the Chapel Hill Rd location only!), Cocoa Cinnamon’s community funky artistic vibe perfectly embodies what Durham is all about.

Note: For those seeking co-working, Cocoa Cinnamon limits their Wi-Fi hours at the downtown and Lakewood locations (each location varies) to spur conversation and community.

Bean Traders

Website | 105 W NC 54

Opened in 2000, Bean Traders is the SoDu OG of local and independent coffee. When it first opened, Bean Traders was one of the first Durham coffee shops to roast their own beans. But beyond just roasting, the folks here go from farm to cup for everything in-between.

Bring your own cup to fill up and receive a discount and feel better about your coffee choices, knowing that their green coffee is sourced through Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and Organic Farms.

If you’re hungry (which you will be!) Bean Traders also has incredible baked goods made in-house using local ingredients from the South Durham Farmer’s Market.

Bean Traders is both great for working at or meeting a friend. The space is very kid-friendly, with a giant chalkboard and toys in one space. They also offer weekly storytime sessions.

Beyu Caffé

Website | 341 West Main St

Best Coffee in Durham NC Beyu Caffe Carver Image
The Carver. MMM!

With a signature coffee blend that local community members created, Beyu (pronounced “Bee You”) Caffé is a community gathering place for the curious. With delicious restaurant items and catering, Beyu is a counter-service cafe with a cozy window seat.

We talked about their Carver’s Peanut Butter in our Durham Restaurant Guide, but it begs to be celebrated here, too. Essentially, it’s a caffeinated Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but so much more complex than that. In more detail, it’s espresso with peanut butter, dark chocolate, and steamed milk combined to make utter perfection!

But that’s not the only decadent order on the coffee bar menu. Check out the Runaway Latte, which uses sweet praline syrup, and cayenne pepper, and is topped with cinnamon for that Bull City sweet and spice.

Beyu Caffe and one more spot in this post featured in our guide to black-owned Durham restaurants, too!

The Durham Hotel

Website | 315 E Chapel Hill St

Who WOULDN’T want to sip coffee in a beautiful mid-century modern hotel lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows around them? The Durham Hotel is an incredible place to stay, too, but it is also home to the perfect coffee bar and restaurant.

Need to have a business meeting but find coffee shops a little too informal? Or how about feeling something fancy yet affordable? The Durham Hotel uses local Counter Culture coffee to create its own binge-worthy coffee soda.

While the rooftop is known for its incredible raw bar and cocktails with a view, we beg to say that the lobby of The Durham is also just as magical!

Joe Van Gogh

Website | 1104 Broad St, 114-B West Chapel Hill St, 4711-5A Hope Valley Rd

Durham NC Joe Van Gogh Broad St Image

If you’re in a Triangle grocery store looking for locally-owned coffee, chances are you will see either Joe Van Gogh or Counter Culture. And as an added bonus, you can find JVG in coffee shops throughout the area that serve their roasted beans.

Ensuring high-quality green coffee directly from the source, Joe Van Gogh roasts and blends via sustainable practices. Not only do they compost using CompostNow in all of their cafes, but they also use commercially compostable single-use items.

Joe Van Gogh Durham NC Image

Further, JVG employees are paid a living wage, the roasting facility runs on solar, and they partner with farms that also pay fair wages and create gender equity. For Joe Van Gogh, coffee is more than a bean; it’s about fostering a sustainable community.

Of course, it’s also delivering very delicious coffee. No matter what you order, you’re in for a fantastic boost. We’ve enjoyed a hand-poured nitro cold brew and cappuccinos and will always come back as long as Joe Van Gogh will have us.

The Oak House

Facebook | 126 W Main St

Downtown Durham Coffee Shops The Oak House Image

Starting in Elon, owners Phil Smith and Ryan Vet wanted to bring their coffee shop to their home in Durham. The Oak House is one of the newest places on our list, after setting up shop in One City Center in downtown.

Based on our visits there and always seeing people inside when passing by, the response to this place has been huge!

They use Caballo Rojo for their drip and Joe Van Gogh (what do you know?) for their espresso. And the fun doesn’t stop with their traditional espresso menu, a rotating selection of craft beers and wines, and cocktails.

Because they’ve partnered with a local coworking organization (ask inside), customers can use the Oak House and enjoy some membership perks. All of this makes this place a welcoming and cozy spot in downtown Durham to sip and work.

Foster Street Coffee

Website | 530 Foster St

Foster Street Coffee Durham

The vibe at Foster’s Coffee is quiet and unassuming, and the coffee is delicious. Foster Street is (or was) our little secret spot to work without much distraction or hassle. Now you’ll have to find out for yourself!

It’s located next to the Durham Food Hall, so if you want to take your day from coffee to food- you’re in the perfect place!

Liturgy Beverage Company

Website | 530 Foster Street (Inside the Durham Food Hall)

Durham coffee shops have no shortage of innovative beverages, but Liturgy Beverage Company is one that always surprises me. While you could order the usual latte, we encourage you to try the specialty drinks or the fantastic selection of single origins for a pour-over.

liturgy coffee durham food hall

Seen here is the Holiday Coffee Soda- pomegranate, orange, and clove syrup with espresso and topo chico. It’s a 10/10, and I’m just mad that it’s not served all year long!

What is even cuter is that the owners, Tim and TiLissa, met in a coffee shop. So, whether you are looking for a place to connect or a coworking space, Liturgy is sure to fuel your day.

Nolia: Family + Coffee

Website | 1004 Morning Glory Ave

Nolia Durham NC Image

While we primarily use coffee shops in Durham for work, we occasionally need to perk up after a rough night with the kid. Enter Nolia, also known as every parent’s dream, is one of the best things to do with kids in Durham.

Absolutely beautiful and shining souls run this family-centric place. Nolia is where you can bring your kids to play while you sit back and enjoy a coffee while it’s still hot. And it’s a space where your child is invited and celebrated.

To make the deal even sweeter, all of the coffee at Nolia is direct-trade and ethically sourced. You can change our community by raising incredible humans and drinking their amazing coffee here.

We also think Nolia is where parents can get a little work done while their kids are playing. Just sit at the large table that overlooks the play area, and you can keep an eye on your kiddo!

Cloche Coffee

Website | 721 Broad St

Durham Coffee Shops Cloche Coffee Image

Cloche (with a hard “O”) is French for bell-shaped glass that protects plants from frostbite. Cloche Coffee is an adorable space that shares the building with the American Dance Festival.

It’s covered in greenery, and even though it’s smaller than others on this list, Cloche is probably the coziest coffee shop in Durham.

Best Coffee Shops in Durham NC Cloche Image

With a window filled with budding plants and plenty of pillows, the energy inside promotes growth and productivity.

Cloche is also one of the few coffee shops in Durham with an outdoor patio, making it a fantastic workplace in the spring and summer months.

People’s Coffee

Website | 7830 NC-751

Durham Coffee Shops Peoples Coffee Image

If you find yourself in South Durham (or SoDu as the locals say), People’s Coffee is a great place to get some work done while slugging some coffee! As one of the few coffee shops we’ve seen offering Vietnamese Coffee, we are huge fans of this spot!

Exclusively using Wake Forest’s Black & White Roasters beans, the space is bright and the coffee is smooth. And if you find yourself wanting a little kick of health, People’s Coffee also serves kombucha!

Namu

Website | 5420 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd

Coffee in Durham NC Namu Image

Having spent five years living abroad in South Korea, Namu feels a little bit like home to me. Starting as a food truck, they serve Korean street food, snacks, and coffee. Hidden in an unlikely place near I-40 and Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd, Namu is a not-so-secret gem.

Namu’s courtyard is the perfect spot to knock out some work in warmer temps. A surrounding bamboo forest and plenty of seating make it easy to feel transported to East Asia. I urge you to grab a Chocopie, some Yuzu Tea, and work so long that you’re hungry for some Bibimbap!

Guglhupf

Website | 2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd

Durham Coffee Shops Guglupf Image

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a good snack and a specialty latte. At Guglhopf, you get both, plus incredible German pastries and bread. I can’t work at Guglhupf and not bring home a loaf of bread from the bakery.

The inside and outdoor portion of Guglhupf is beautifully decorated, elevating your workspace from a drab corner office cubicle to something more sophisticated and delicious.

We also included Guglhupf in our guide to international restaurants in Durham! Check it out to eat more deliciousness in the Bull City!

Final Thoughts

Downtown Coffee Shops in Durham NC The Oak House Image
If you need a break, people watching from The Oak House is awesome!

Working for yourself or working from home can get boring and isolating. Getting out of the house is one of the easiest ways to break up the day and have an excuse to get out of your pajamas.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Bull City, you’ll know that there are plenty of coffee shops in Durham that not only serve great java. They are also beautiful places to cultivate productivity.

For those familiar with the area, we’d love to hear about your favorite Durham coffee shops! Let us know here or contact us via email. Either way, let’s keep the convo going.

3 thoughts on “The 13 Best Coffee Shops in Durham, NC”

  1. You all do a great job and I had a good time pouring over your list of coffee options for the area. (pun intending) 😉

    I have to say I’m shocked that you don’t have Liturgy on your list. Hands down, the best spot I went to in Durham for coffee and I’m super discerning about the coffee I drink. I’ve been known to travel with a siphon and burr grinder on road trips lol!! I know everyone has an opinion and we all have our subjectivity but after walking into a few of your recommends, I walked right out based off the menu, machine and atmosphere.

    Reply

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