As travel writers who normally work on the go, coffee shops many times serve as our office. We’ve spent time in quite a few, especially in Durham.
And since they inhabit a city that’s 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 also featured in our guide covering a weekend in Durham. This post is part of our series on Durham and other awesome spots in Central North Carolina. We originally created it on December 4, 2017.
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.
Website | 420 W Geer St, 2013 Chapel Hill Road, & 2627 Hillsborough Rd
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, with a focus 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 does limit their Wi-Fi hours at the downtown and Lakewood locations (each location varies) in order to spur conversation and community.
Website | 105 W NC 54
Opened in 2000, Bean Traders is the SoDu OG of local and independent coffee. When they 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.
Website | 341 West Main St
With a signature coffee blend that was created by local community members, Beyu (pronounced “Bee You”) Caffé is a community gathering place for the curious. With delicious restaurant items as well as 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, cayenne pepper, and 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
I mean, 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 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
If you’re in a Triangle grocery store looking for some locally-owned coffee, chances are you are going to 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.
Further, JVG employees are paid a living wage, the roasting facility runs on solar, and they partner with farms who 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 an amazing boost. We’ve enjoyed 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
Starting in Elon, owners Phil Smith and Ryan Vet wanted to bring their coffee shop to their home of 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, as well as 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
One of the things that makes me a small-town girl is that I absolutely hate trying to figure out where and how to park. Durham is certainly easier than some cities, but when you’re looking for a place to get some coffee and do some work, parking is a huge concern for me.
Enter Foster Street Coffee, not only in a great location close to downtown and near the Farmer’s Market, but also a validator of parking! Just be sure to park in the Liberty Warehouse garage around the corner on Corporation St.
Inside, the vibe is quiet and unassuming and the coffee 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!
Nolia: Family + Coffee
Website | 1004 Morning Glory Ave
While we primarily use coffee shops in Durham for work, occasionally we also need to perk up after a rough night with the kid. Enter Nolia, also known as every parent’s dream.
This family-centric place is run by absolutely beautiful and shining souls. 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 not only invited but celebrated.
To make the deal even sweeter, all of the coffee at Nolia is direct-trade and ethically-sourced. Here, you can change our community not only by raising incredible humans but also by drinking their amazing coffee.
We also think that Nolia is totally a place where parents can get a little bit of 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!
Website | 721 Broad St
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.
With a window filled with budding plants and plenty of pillows, the energy inside promotes growth and productivity.
East Durham Bake Shop
Website | 406 S Driver St
Primarily known for their baked goods, we think that East Durham Bake Shop is the perfect spot to get some work done in East Durham. Cozy up with a slice of pie and a mocha latte made with Raleigh’s Videri Chocolate.
And if you aren’t feeling coffee, we think East Durham Bake Shop is one of the best places to enjoy a wide selection of teas over WiFi.
Partnering with both Durham-based, woman-owned companies Jeddah’s Tea and Arteao, the tea selection will absolutely aid your inspiring work.
Website | 7830 NC-751
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!
Website | 5420 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd
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 and snacks along with coffee. Hidden in an unlikely place near I-40 and Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd, Namu is a not-so-secret gem.
In warmer temps, Namu’s courtyard is the perfect spot to knock out some work. 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!
Website | 2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd
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. It is impossible for me to work at Guglhopf and not bring home a loaf of their bread from the bakery.
Both the inside and outdoor portion of Guglhopf 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 interntational restaurants in Durham! Check it out to eat more deliciousness in the Bull City!
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.