What’s the Best Coffee Shop in Raleigh?

In this city of coffee shops, you are bound to have a favorite.

November, 14, 2008 , by David

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Best Coffee Shops In Raleigh

This week’s Q&A is perfect on a rainy fall day, like a warm cup of coffee.  There are so many places to get your java in this town, that we thought we would talk about our favorites.  As usual we are partial to those that are locally owned and operated and centrally located, but please share yours below in the comments.  While you are at it, check out our growing list on the Raleigh coffee shop listing, and add any that you patron.

Ladye Jane, Morning Times

I can’t imagine starting my workday without a visit to the Morning Times first. I love the coffee (by far the best tasting in town), I love the staff, and I even love my bagel that comes out a little squishy since it’s heated in the sandwich press and not a toaster. I didn’t used to be an everyday coffee drinker, but the whole experience of walking to work and stopping by to get coffee before going into the office has become a ritual, and my day always feels a little off if I don’t start it that way. It’s like the morning version of Cheers… depending on when you go to work, you see the same people every morning at just about the same time and get to start the day with a little chit chat with your friends.

Mark, Cup a Joe Hillsborough

Give me consistency. I don’t know about you, but I want my coffee to taste like it was brewed on the same stainless steel equipment as the first day a joint opened up. The kids that work at Cup A Joe on Hillsborough Street might rather spit on you than take your order, but after one day on the job, they can make a damn good iced coffee drink. It’s also easily the best in town for cafe style Thai Tea, Bubble Tea—and their espresso milkshake is ridiculous. Raleigh’s professors and academics regularly engage in discourse, and the walls are hung will local artists’ work. With grit like Durham and grunge like the Jackpot, Cup A Joe is the Old Raleigh coffee shop.

David, Helios Coffee

An old staple of Glenwood South, Helios Coffee is always a treat to visit.  The shop is set up to be a comfortable spot for mobile workers and quiet rendezvous alike. Helios has a grown-up appeal that I think contrasts with the other shops in town. Recently redesigned to include more seating, the Helios owners seem to get that the early nineties vision of coffee-shop-as-Ecko-furniture-gallery *cough* Third Place *cough* is bygone, and that sitting in a scum bucket of nicotine tar is only cool if you are a smoker (cup o’ cig anyone?). The setting is efficient and bustling from the early morning until late at night.  The space is an adaptable one, opening all its doors in the Spring to create a nice breeze, and opening to a large patio that somehow feels secluded right on Glenwood.

Everything about Helios is smart, including their fair trade coffee and the care which is taken in brewing it.  Their espresso is light and never burnt—something other shops don’t seem to see as fundamental.  Helios smartly serves a great alcohol selection: beers that are fairly priced and a fairly extensive wine list.  That doesn’t even include their very decent food selection that meets my needs any time of the day.  It really is the grown-up coffee shop.  I hope the others can learn from everything that Helios consistently does right.

Acree, The Third Place

I first saw The Third Place when I was seventeen and my hipper-than-hip high school writing teacher brought our class there to work on an assignment. I’d never been to any coffee shop besides Starbucks, and I’d certainly never strutted around Five Points with my classmates at 11 a.m. on a weekday, so the funky baristas, bohemian decor and unspecified bathrooms awed me.

I ordered a vanilla latte, was reprimanded by an employee for taking what I foolishly thought was a free copy of the New York Times, and fell instantly in love.

After that, The Third Place became a hotspot for the disenchanted and pretentious at my high school (of whom I, admittedly, was a member), and, even years later, old friends and I would always flock there when home from college.

We staked out a spot on the smokers’ patio and made friends, eventually, with the kids we’d been eyeing—the cool kids who wore band t-shirts and chain-smoked, who were gay or high school dropouts, and who lived in the margins, far removed from our boringly stable upbringings.

Gradually, of course, all the quirks of The Third Place that had enchanted us as teenagers grew stale, but even as late as this summer, whenever friends from home and I got together we’d inevitably spend a few minutes at The Third Place out of habit. Like our parents’ houses, it felt comfortable and automatic, but after a short time we’d be itching to get out.

Still, in August, when The Third Place cut back its hours to 7 p.m., I felt personally betrayed. At a certain age, you don’t want to live with your parents, but you don’t want your parents to move away and sell all your stuff, either. So this event marked the end of an era for me.

Today, The Third Place thrives as a respectable daylight coffee shop, and I often spend Saturday afternoons there, taking advantage of the warm atmosphere and free wi-fi. But this adult version of The Third Place is a world apart from the hip evening hang-out I used to know, where underage suburbanites got their first tastes of a life beyond SAT prep courses. It is now instead a mature, cozy neighborhood coffee shop.

Still, some nights, while having a beer at Lilly’s, I’ll find myself looking over at The Third Place and imagining that in just a few minutes a barista will play some punk rock loud on the stereo, drop a box of day-old bagels on the table, and growl, “Get outta here. We’re closed.”

Brian, Global Village

It’s hard to remember sometimes that there’s life beyond West Street. But in fact I spent my formative years (a lot of them) wandering the stretch of Hillsborough Street between Oberlin and Brooks, and hiding out in Global Village Coffeehouse. In my opinion Global Village is the focal point of the entire University District.

Some go there for owner Mike Ritchey’s incredibly consistent and delicious espresso.  Others fight the line to get their hands on one of this city’s most sought-after chicken salad sandwiches.  Many show up for their weekly dose of live music from Raleigh icons David McKnight and Bruce Emery.  Fans of local, independent business like to recount the legend of how Global Village killed Starbucks and helped defend Hillsborough Street against an incursion of high-end chain stores like the one that has priced many students out of Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street.

What really does it for me at Global Village, though, is the crowd of intelligent people who hang out there.  Pretty much the entire faculty of the NCSU Philosophy Department have made GV their choice for caffeine, and its proximity to several other humanities departments on campus make it a natural gathering place for students and faculty. Combined with the tight seating arrangement this makes it difficult to
avoid having - or at least hearing - an intellectually lively conversation while you sip your latte.

On the down side: no parking, lines to the door almost every day around lunchtime, and a host of freshman design students camped out all day along the comfy bench seating can make GV seem a little
overwhelming - especially for those accustomed to the less frantic atmosphere of the Morning Times or Cup-a-Joe.  Even so, it’s worth it to me every couple of weeks to hunt for a parking space, or to walk
the mile or so from my house just to remind myself that this place exists.


Tim, Morning Times

Convenient to my workplace, home, and favorite bar, and with new evening hours,
Morning Times has all but monopolized my coffee habit. The small space on street level is filled with chit chat among customers and baristas, but can accommodate the morning coffee rush without feeling cramped, due to the large storefront windows and the customer flow through the “In” and “Out"doors. In addition to the limited tables alongside the busy mosaic countertop, there is sidewalk seating as well as a lounge upstairs that doubles as an art gallery, showcasing local talent monthly against the backdrop of exposed brick walls. With window seating and comfortable couches, it is easy to pass time making conversation, reading, or surfing on the complementary wi-fi.

Commanding a cherry-red espresso machine, the baristas have perfected a wide range of espresso drinks. You can also purchase drip coffee and beans by bulk from Carrboro Coffee Company, or opt for loose-leaf tea or a beer. With sandwiches, salads, fruits, bagels, cookies, and pastries, it is a great place for a quick bite and stands out as yet another downtown jewel courtesy of Empire Eats.








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  • Rachel
    11/14 03:53 PM

    Morning Times gets my vote.  I rarely drink coffee, so my opinion is based primarily on location, staff, atmosphere, and, most importantly, the chai latte.  Although several area coffee shops brew their own chai, Morning Times is the only place where I can find a chai with the right amount of flavor, milk, and spice.

  • cls
    11/14 04:01 PM

    Myself, I am quite partial to Sosta Café on weekday mornings. Luciano and Jerome know every patron’s name and they are always glad you came…. I also frequent Morning Times, especially now that they are open until 10p.

    Sosta is great for their vegan latte, and Morning Times for their homemade Chai.

  • Scott
    11/14 04:05 PM

    Morning Times is the epicenter of our city’s Creative Class. It rules absolutely.

  • RaleighRob
    11/14 04:14 PM

    I guess my “favorite” coffee house would vary depending on what I want and when I want it.

    If I want just a cup of coffee, and nothing else, then Global Village is my favorite.  IF they’re open….their hours are short, especially when NCSU isn’t in session.  But when it is, that’s some damn good coffee right there.

    Morning Times is great if I want more…a bagel, a sandwich, yogurt/fruit parfaits…etc.  It’s your all-purpose breakfast/brunch/lunch emporium.

    If for some reason I want something in the evening, these days it’s usually Helios.  (Especially since Third Place slashed their hours.) 

    Third Place will always have a place in my heart from earlier days when there were fewer indie coffee houses in town.  But I miss what it was like back then.

  • Rachel 2
    11/14 04:32 PM

    Helios gets my vote!  The seating inside and outside is perfect, the staff is fun and inviting, and as a regular carmel latte drinker, their carmel drink is literally the best I have had in years!  And best of all, its patrons are far more grown up and professional than the typical smoke-filled, college-kid filled places off Hillsborough.  As a young professional, that in itself is refreshing.

  • Tc
    11/14 05:04 PM

    I gotta say Cup a Joe, for the quality.

    Mostly because they roast their own beans, and I for one really appreciate that.  (though I must say, the high turnover rate amongst their baristas is a negative.  I was completely baffled that they couldn’t figure out how to add honey to an iced latte.) 

    (not sure, but I don’t think Third Place, Morning Times, or Helios roasts their own beans) 

    And leaving the city limits, but staying in the triangle, Cafe Driade in Chapel Hill is the best around.  Can’t beat the setting or the coffee.

  • pickle
    11/14 05:26 PM

    lame

    the answer is Reverie (I hope that place still exists, I don’t live in Raleigh anymore)

  • j
    11/14 05:33 PM

    i second reverie..

  • Tony
    11/14 06:01 PM

    There is a place at the corner of Glenwood and Peace called Star-something.  The name escapes me.  I really liked Helios, but the service is such a crap shoot if you’re in a hurry.  You can easily burn 25 minutes sitting by the napkin dispenser as the drinks seem to come out in no order.

  • Jason DiMambro
    11/14 06:07 PM

    The Morning Times gets my vote!

    Great coffee, fast wireless Internet, character, atmosphere, good music, great artwork. I could go on and on and on and on…

  • Brandon
    11/14 06:26 PM

    Many people overlook the “other” Cup A Joe. In the lower part of the Mission Valley Shopping Center next to the Cinema. They always make drinks quick and delicious. Even if the line is to the door in the morning I can be in and out in under 5 minutes. Quality, quality, quality of the product is the best thing about this underground coffee shop though. They also have breakfast, lunch, and pocket sandwiches all day long, unlike those other places.

    I wen’t there yesterday and had their Egg Nog Milkshake. Freakin Awesome. Best milkshake I ever had.

  • Angel
    11/14 07:26 PM

    Third place, Helios and Reverie get my vote. Hillsborough street’s Cup a Joe’s coffee is always burnt and their service terrible.  Although the morning times’ service is great and their coffee decent I find the place as pretentious as the Raleigh Times.  I much rather give my money to non-monopolies.

  • Lisa Jeffries
    11/14 07:44 PM

    Port City Java at the College of Textiles in Centennial Campus is usually my closest solution…. with more local roots than *bux.

    I think my next closest (and eventually money saving) solution is going to be a Keurig :-)

    I do enjoy Helios and Times if I’m DT, though.

  • Lisa Jeffries
    11/14 07:45 PM

    However, I should also note I’m a once-a-season coffee drinker, though. I just really don’t do morning coffee all that often.

  • Johnny
    11/14 08:05 PM

    the best espresso drink I have ever had was from the whole foods on wade ave.

    probably random luck though

  • emily
    11/15 02:11 AM

    New world on pleasant valley off glenwood. They’re so great.  I’ve been going there for maybe 12 years or so.  It seems like they’ve served Larry’s since day one.  Just love them.

  • thefencepost
    11/15 02:45 AM

    my fav is The Well in wake forest, yeah I know that isn’t in DT, but there is life outside of DT Raleigh. when I am dt I like helios

  • Micah
    11/15 04:17 AM

    Third Place used to be cool, but I no longer like the atmosphere.  Their coffee beans come from the wonderful and local Larry’s Beans for long time now.  Helios is okay, but can be very slow and sometimes pretentious.  They serve Counter Culture coffee, which is also a locally owned business and roasts great coffee. The beer and wine, along with the patio is a HUGE plus. Their food is very good for the price.  Cup-A-Joe does roast their own coffee…And it sucks.  They have always over roasted their coffee, and it tastes like burnt sludge.  It makes me laugh to hear people say they like it by proclaiming, “I drink REAL coffee.”  If you know anything about brewing espresso it can be painful to watch some of the baristas at both locations pull your latte shots. The consistency of espresso based drinks there is absolutely horrible.  I used to like it at Hillsborough, but that was back in college when 90% of the reason me and my friends went was just to have a place to hang out.  The staff at both locations (especially Mission Valley) seems to change very frequently, and I believe this is because the management and owners (whom I see in the shops sometimes) are of a poor quality.

    Morning Times is my current top choice.

  • tt
    11/15 09:15 AM

    Morning Times/Evening Times - it’s always where I want to be.

  • sasquatch
    11/15 09:34 AM

    sasquatch message get nixt like fly life in spider web.sasquatch sorry for using word with dirt on it to describe feelings toward squirrels.not realize   article targeted at hipsters and yupsters of city of oaks.sasquatch try again.when sasquatch go for cup of mud in city him prefer krispy kreme,me love hot sticky doughy things that come in pretty box hmmmmmmm…please not nix sasquatch message and hurt feelings…thankyou…me try to bring manners to meesage this time.

  • claire
    11/15 12:24 PM

    i’m with brandon on the “other” cup a joe- also known as “stealth cup a joe” and “international cup a joe”. the place has practically no personality of it’s own, which makes it a great backdrop for hearing all the different accents and languages of what i assume are ncsu grad students from all over the world that hang out there. the line moves fast and i like their coffee- i did get a crappy latte once and they remade it. i think what i like best about it is that it is about the least hipster coffee joint in town. and sometimes i just want some flipping coffee and not to make some kind of a scene you know?

  • raleighgirl
    11/15 01:50 PM

    I stopped visiting Cup a joe because I was tired of asking for real half and half.  Seriously, the stuff on the counter is watered down with milk or something to cut costs.  Very lame.  Sadly, I make my own coffee at home now and buy Larry’s beans when I can.

  • ct
    11/15 04:53 PM

    Of the north Raleigh shops, my wife frequents New World. I get to Stone Wolf on Falls of Neuse occasionally… but I’m a tea drinker.

  • Sandra
    11/15 05:11 PM

    Morning Times !!!!!!!

  • Acree
    11/15 07:14 PM

    I go to Stone Wolf when I’m in North Raleigh. They recently started using environmentally friendly paper cups instead of those Styrofoam Lite things… makes the coffee taste so much better.

  • Kate Maddalena
    11/15 08:16 PM

    HELIOS.  Sorry, I’m less cyber-hip than most of the denizens there, but I call it my “second office.” I like to spend the whole day grading papers.  The baristas are all bike-friendly cool dudes and chicks, and they have IMPECCABLE taste in music (except a random Eagles song now and then, but you have to give an indie kid his classic rock eccentricities).

  • Bruce DeBoer
    11/16 05:23 PM

    All of the above mentioned coffee houses are great. Cup-a-Joe is the original local coffee house but I lost interest in the french roast approach to all beans.  Third Place changed owners and while the atmosphere naturally changed, it is still a great hang.

    However, Morning Times has won my taste buds because every morning I leave their door, sip that first sip and say, “damn that’s good”.  Add to that a crew that is always “on” and management that “gets it” big time. If they don’t get your vote you probably haven’t been.

  • stefanie
    11/16 09:07 PM

    The best = Morning Times.  I drink my lattes with soy and Casey makes the perfect one every time…(and Tim’s ain’t too bad either—he’ll put an “M” on it.  I like my lattes to be like Guinesses)

  • Rusty
    11/16 11:36 PM

    I’m also partial to Helios and CupaJoes myself, but you’ve opened my eyes to just how many coffee shops I have yet to try…

  • Scott P
    11/17 08:58 AM

    Gotta chime in again for the dark horse. Royal Bean across from Meredith is spacious and friendly. Check it out.

  • VaNC
    11/17 11:11 AM

    I must say I like Cup-a-joe, MT, and Helios and go to all based on where I am close to at the time.  My only issue with Helios is that I can not go there without feeling like I am disturbing someone.  Everyone but me is in there “working” at a computer.  If you go in there to talk, you often feel like you are making too much noise.  I often wonder how Helios makes money with people working there for hours, taking up all the tables, nursing one cup of coffee.  I know that is a generalization and I am hopelessly unhip and “out of touch” with Generation Y or whatever, but that vibe is just odd to me. 

    I also want to put in a vote for Crema on F. Street.  Best eggnog latte in the CIty.  They make them with real eggnog and not that syrup stuff.  Can’t wait til they start making them this season.

  • VaNC
    11/17 11:12 AM

    Oh, and I must say that I used to go to Third Place but just don’t seem to go anymore.  I see they have stopped being open at night.  Does anyone know why?

  • Misti
    11/17 11:33 AM

    STARBUCKS ALL THE WAY!  They have a ton of locations, so I can find one pretty much anywhere I am in the city!  I discovered that little gem when I moved to Raleigh from Newton Grove.  There is nothing like Starbucks there!  And if you check it out, make sure to get a black and white cookie!  They’re to die for!!!

  • Acree
    11/17 01:57 PM

    @VaNC:

    I heard from Third Place employees that the owners were having trouble keeping the place afloat and that paychecks were bouncing. I hate to spread rumors, but there it is. I can’t vouch, however, for the reliability of these sources.

    I’m not sure if cutting back hours has helped. There was always a huge crowd there at night, but most of us were nursing $1 cups of coffee for hours. Speaking of which, as far as I know you can still get a cup of coffee at TTP for a buck!

  • Acree
    11/17 02:00 PM

    Where is Newton Grove that it is uninvaded by Starbucks? Amazing.

  • Meredith
    11/17 02:00 PM

    I second the Royal Bean. It’s open til 11pm which is a huge bonus and there are lots of tables to study at in the back. Not to mention the abundance of electrical outlets. Global Village is tasty, but not a good place to get work done since there are NO outlets. Royal Bean coffee is also locally roasted at Mr.Toads in Cary.

  • JLV
    11/17 02:19 PM

    Crema on Fayetteville!

  • VaNC
    11/17 02:22 PM

    Where is Newton Grove that it is uninvaded by Starbucks?

    Newton Grove is a small town a little off 40 on the way to Wilmington.  They likely do not have Starbucks, but they do have the Sof-T-Shop, and we stop for lunch there every time we drive to the beach!

  • Kevin
    11/17 03:36 PM

    Cup A Joe has been consistently terrible as far back as I can remember.

  • emily
    11/17 05:25 PM

    ummm… how much do I love misty? My mom/grandparents are from Newton Grove.  Def no Starbucks in Newton Grove despite it being “the circle of opportunity”. 

    Go on girl and get you some starbucks.

  • MMI
    11/17 07:15 PM

    I think it has been said (by me) on New Raleigh already, but Global Village is **BY FAR** my favorite coffee shop—and I don’t mean just in Raleigh.  It has been a personal getaway for as long as I have lived here, and quite likely a major reason as to why I now live ITB.  Why?  It’s simple:
    1) Better quality drinks.  Mike is über-picky about his beans and roaster.  Even the Tea, Chai, and Hot Chocolate get high marks here.
    2) What you get for your money. Back in the day, GV put up to 4 shots (!!) in a large espresso drink for a dollar less than the 2 shots that Starbucks (then located just 2 doors away) put in the same cup.  It’s now a 3-shot drink, mostly because my peers can’t handle the extra jolt.  It’s still at least a dollar less expensive than the competition.
    3) Service.  Nearly everyone at GV knows my name, and is making my drink the second I walk through the door.  Everyone there is terrific, but not just anyone is allowed to serve as a Barista.
    4) Environment.  Sure, it’s a college joint, but just about every kind of person is in there.  Mike keeps things set up so people are invited to linger, but few stay all day, as was mentioned.  Even when swamped, a seat will usually open up within 5 minutes.


    It should be noted that a big chunk of the friends I have made in this town have been either employees or fellow patrons at Global Village.


    Honorable Mention goes to New World, which I frequented when I lived in NW Raleigh.  I have had the coffee (tasty!) at Morning Times, but that was just after their new hours started and just before my first PBR next door.  :)  I am eager to try them during normal hours.  Helios, also, is subject to the hour.  I go there for a late night jolt.


    Cup-a-Joe, sadly, doesn’t make my favorites list.  I grew weary of people dangling smelly armpits over my brew.  The coffee is fine, and the employees friendly.  It’s the other customers I don’t want to be around.

  • Ryan
    11/17 10:41 PM

    Hmmmm…I thought I had posted my vote for MORNING TIMES days ago, but I had not.  Rob, I wanted to represent the MT like we talked about tonight, so here it is!

  • Ernie
    11/18 12:00 AM

    McCafe is my shit.  Thats how I do!

  • coachmam
    11/18 07:50 AM

    Royal Bean across from Meredith is friendly and an excellent place to sit an enjoy a cup of coffee or do some work. The coffee choices are wonderful as well and they easily accommodate groups who desire a meeting place. Sometimes you can even catch live music!

  • Dina
    11/18 09:14 AM

    well, i have floated around all the coffee shops in raleigh, and if you know who i am, you know where i frequent the most. has anyone tried 101 Lounge + Cafe? Diagonally across from artspace, this trendy little european-like establishment offers a variety of items, including coffee, espresso, and tea all day long, breakfast sandwiches and pastries, lunch, and lite fare… you have to come in and check it out for yourself. Open at 7:00 am on weekdays, 9:00 am saturdays, and 11:00 am on sundays, this place is very convenient for any patron.

  • kg
    11/18 01:01 PM

    partial to morning times but i’ll do helios in heartbeat cause it’s down the street from me.  crema on fayetteville st. though does have an awesome hot chocolate.

  • MMI
    11/18 03:57 PM

    Is Royal Bean the joint that used to be a Coffee Shop/Online Gaming Cafe’?

  • ab
    11/18 04:04 PM

    Helios all the way!  Consistently delicious (never had a bad cuppa) and efficient.  I heart helios.

  • oakcity
    11/19 12:28 PM

    cup a joe rules, you can’t smoke anywhere else.

  • MMI
    11/19 02:17 PM

    And I will give Cup-a-Joe credit for having separate smoking areas that actually manage to keep the smoke isolated.  Maybe the smoke serves to cover up to B.O.  ;)

  • RaleighRob
    11/19 03:24 PM

    Oh I guess I forgot Crema in my earlier comment.  Maybe I was subconsciously saving it for a future “Best Ice Cream Shop in Raleigh” thread!  ;-)

  • Louis
    11/20 01:03 PM

    I can’t start the day without a cup the “da bean” across from Meredith. Great coffee, good Danish and a great place to meet. Along with open access and plenty of plugs it has a friendly staff and warm atmosphere.
    See ya there.

  • MMI
    11/20 04:12 PM

    I’m curious—how much does the presence of power outlets affect people’s choice of coffee shops?  I know of at least one that purposefully limits their available outlets to keep squatting to a minimum.

    Case Study: The previous owner of Jumpin’ Java off of T.W. Alexander used to limit Net access to hourly increments and give patrons a password to access their WiFi.  He told me that without that precaution, people had been pulling their cars up to his door and using his network without ever buying so much as a cup o’ drip coffee.

  • dubedo
    11/20 04:47 PM

    I don’t like coffee shops that charge for wifi, but I think giving out one-hour passwords with each purchase is brilliant and very appropriate.  I have often wondered how these shops make money when people just fill up their tables and sit there all day after spending maybe $2.  I did plenty of studying in coffee shops as a graduate student, but I definitely felt honor-bound to buy something every hour or two in return for the hospitality.  (I don’t actually object to paying for wifi, per se, what I object to is the services that require entering a credit card and creating an account, because the one time I did this at a Starbucks my card was repeatedly charged for future logons even though I only used it once - in other words, my credit card info was not secure.)

  • MMI
    11/20 05:40 PM

    Not to mention the fact that T-Mobile (Starbucks’ WiFi provider) charges a whopping $10 per session.


    Personally, I think it makes good business sense for a coffee shop to pay $50/month for WiFi access just to get people in the door.  It’s just as appropriate for them to want some actual turnover to see the full benefit of that.  That’s why I completely understand & agree with your desire to give them at least some business in return.  The hijackers (a strong term, but not entirely inappropriate) who don’t give them ANY business (or just a buck or two) in return for long hours of service are a pretty sorry lot, IMO.  And that comes from a former grad student who knows a thing or three about being a starving student.

  • James
    11/20 08:52 PM

    I don’t drink coffee, but I’ve always liked the idea of a coffee shop. As a non-coffee drinker I don’t know if I deserve a vote but if you give me one mine goes to Cup-A-Joe.  I like the subtle nod to Raleigh history—Former Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, who banned booze on battleships inspiring US Navy seaman to call coffee “A Cup of Joe”, was also the owner of the News and Observer and lived in Raleigh. Plus coffee shops close to Universities seem to hit closer to the ethos of what I like about coffee shops. 

    Morning Times gets an honorable mention since it also has a nice nod to Raleigh history (although points are deducted since the Times was an afternoon paper). The place is also a who’s who of downtown Raleigh in the moring.

  • JT
    11/21 09:16 AM

    I’m nostalgic to Cup-A-Joe but I’ve always found their coffee to be horrendous.  My theory has always been that they let the beans cool in those plastic tubs which promotes condensation and causes them to spoil from the moisture.  As for seriously good coffee Morning Times and Helios.  Morning Times uses Open Eye, from Chapel Hill’s beans, and I think Helios uses Counter Culture.  Both of those choices are phenomenal both in their regular coffee and espresso.

  • MMI
    11/21 01:13 PM

    I don’t know about “spoilage” in the microbiological sense, but you’re right about moisture ruining good beans.  Allowing moisture to condense on the bean results in that water sapping the flavor from the beans.  That’s also why one shouldn’t store their coffee in the fridge or freezer—ice crystals form, then thaw, then leach out the flavor of the beans or grounds.


    [end session of Mr. Wizard’s World]

  • Micah
    11/21 02:52 PM

    I was right there last night, and wanted a latte, so I figured I would give Cup A Joe Mission Valley another chance.  This is what happened:

    Me: “I would like a medium double skinny latte, please.
    Cashier: “What flavor do you want?”
    Me: “Just coffee.”
    Cashier: “Ummm,no…Do you want Vanilla or Hazelnut or something? We don’t have coffee flavor” (I think that statement is hilarious)
    Me: “I just want the latte.  Just the milk and espresso please.”
    Cashier: (with confused look)“oookay.”
    She writes the order on a little sticky note and gives it to the barista.  The barista walks over and says to the cashier, “You forgot to write the flavor on here.” The cashier exasperatingly says, “He says he doesn’t WANT flavor in it!”  The barista looks at me like I have an extra eye on my face and makes my latte.


    I thought it was amusing, and I wonder if they, consciously or not, have people flavor their coffee so that you can’t actually taste how bad the coffee itself is.


    As for my latte?  It was so hot that I couldn’t drink it for nearly 10 minutes.  It tasted pretty bad, and I think it was because they heated the milk too much.  I drank half of it an threw the rest, along with my styrofoam cup, in the trash.


    I’m really not TRYING to be so critical of Cup A Joe, but there coffee is just BAD.

  • Micah
    11/21 02:54 PM

    I meant “THEIR!”  Sheesh, I have been doing that a lot lately.  Or maybe I meant, “But there, Coffee is just BAD.”  Haha.

  • MMI
    11/21 04:20 PM

    Time to cue up Denis Leary’s classic bit about “coffee-flavored coffee.”  Search for it—you won’t be disappointed.

  • Brandon
    11/23 11:19 AM

    To: Micah

    I think your right that there always seems to be a new cashier in Cup A Joe stores. I can’t speak to night time service as I never go there after work. In the morning I never seem to have a problem.

    I don’t drink the lattes much. Too much dairy for me. I had a cup of Ethiopa on Friday. The fermented and winey flavors in that bean were awesome.

  • MMI
    03/05 03:44 PM

    Always glad to see a cool new coffee shop, but that’s way the hell up near Rolesville!  Yahoo says it’s near Wake Tech’s north campus, though.  Good news for the students out there.

  • morning times rules!
    04/03 12:15 PM

    The Morning Times rules! They know how to make a latte the right way. The beans are not burned like at starBUCKS. The staff is awesome and the espresso is creamy. Great coffee, great shop- bottom line it’s the best.

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