If you are looking for the best Charleston coffee shops you are in the right place!
I attended college in the Charleston area, lived here for 6 years, and since then regularly return to visit family so you can bet that I have expertise in this area. I recently took a tour around Charleston’s coffee shops and even had the chance to speak to a few of the owners, to create the ultimate guide to Charleston’s coffee scene.
So, grab your reusable mugs and let’s explore the best coffee shops in Charleston!
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Best Charleston Coffee Shops Downtown
Harken Cafe & Bakery
If you only have time for one coffee shop in Charleston, SC, let it be Harken Cafe & Bakery. Located on a quiet corner of Queen St, Harken is ideally situated for visitors looking for the best things to do in Charleston. In fact, right next door is 82 Queen, one of the best brunches in Charleston!
As soon as you walk up to the sidewalk outside of Harken, you are transported by their beautiful, charming aesthetic. Inside, cozy decor with fresh lively plants and exposed brick cover the walls.
Be sure to try their pastries, our favorite was The Great Dane but everything looks so good you couldn’t go wrong.
Brought to you by the same team as Harken, The Harbinger Cafe is another delight and we highly recommend it. There is tons of space to sit down with a friend or your laptop and spend time enjoying your delicious coffee.
Harbinger also has an excellent spread of unique pastries and prepared food options.
Thought it opened less than one year ago, this exquisite little Cuban café is more than just a coffee shop. It’s a welcoming hub that brings a slice of Miami to the heart of Charleston, and it all starts with their authentic Cuban coffee. Run by Kathy and Lane, who moved from Miami five years ago, this café has become a hotspot for both locals and tourists, including fellow Cubans and other Latines who’ve found a taste of home in Cafecito.
The vibrant pop art on the wall of Don Arsenio, Kathy’s grandfather, enjoying his classic Cuban coffee is a testament to the café’s deep-rooted love for fostering community. In line with this, they’ve designed an open kitchen concept, allowing guests to sit, watch, and engage in lively chats with them.
It’s not just about the coffee, though. Their lunch menu is a must-try, with all sandwiches made by Kathy herself, and pressed to perfection on the plancha. They also offer veggie options for those seeking a plant-based treat.
And for sweet tooth enthusiasts, don’t miss the key lime pie. Made in-house and served on a stick drizzled with Belgian chocolate, it’s a heavenly treat you don’t want to miss.
All their ingredients are sourced from Miami, ensuring that every bite and sip you take at Cafecito offers an authentic Cuban experience. So the next time you find yourself looking for the best coffee in Charleston, make your way to Cafecito. You’re going to love it here!
If you’re seeking the best coffee shops in Charleston, don’t miss the chance to visit Kudu Coffee. This local gem, steps away from King Street, is known for its excellent coffee and friendly atmosphere.
But there’s more to Kudu than just their high-quality brews. Unique to many coffee shops, Kudu also serves a selection of craft beers. The staff are incredibly friendly, and there is a lot of space inside plus a courtyard to sit and enjoy.
Take a moment to relax in their inviting courtyard, savoring either a smooth latte or a crisp ale, and you’ll quickly understand why Kudu Coffee earns its place among the best Charleston coffee shops.
In the mood for something else unique, like quality wine instead of a local beer? Well, let me introduce you to Island Provisions. Nestled in downtown Charleston, it makes for an excellent stop on your coffee shop tour. But if you ask me, their Johns Island location holds a special charm that makes it one of my favorite spots to visit.
Not only can you savor a delicious cup of java here, but you can also explore their collection of unique wines, perfect for those who like a little adventure in their glass. I even found one of my favorite California Pet-Nat’s here from Kivelstadt once!
Second State Coffee
Located on Spring Street, Second State Coffee is a must-visit for any coffee lover in Charleston. Their minimalist-style space provides a cozy and inviting atmosphere to relax and indulge in some of the best coffee in town.
But what sets Second State apart from other coffee shops is their commitment to sourcing beans from small-batch roasters across the country. This means you can try a variety of unique and carefully selected blends, each with its own distinctive flavor profile. It’s the perfect spot for coffee enthusiasts looking to expand their palate.
While many of the shops on this list are newer, I have been going to Second State for a honey-lavender latte since my college days. Back then, it used to be called Black Tap, and while the name has changed, the excellent coffee has not. This Charleston staple is a must on any list for the best coffee in town.
Next on our coffee adventure is blūm, a true gem in the heart of Charleston. This spacious coffee shop offers plenty of seating in its large, open floor plan, making it a perfect place to relax, work, or catch up with friends.
The artful decor and the bar inside add a trendy, modern touch to the warm atmosphere. But the real star at Blūm is their coffee – rich, flavorful, and brewed to perfection.
The coffee shop has ample parking and a beautiful exterior as well. Whether you’re sipping on a classic espresso or trying out one of their signature blends, you’re in for a treat.
Mercantile & Mash
Located away from the bustling center of Charleston, Mercantile & Mash offers not only some of the best coffee in town but also boasts a spacious outdoor seating area, perfect for those sunny South Carolina days.
Besides the benefit of ample parking, what sets Mercantile & Mash apart is an exciting twist – it’s not just a coffee shop! As you sip your perfectly brewed coffee you’ll find yourself surrounded by locally-sourced gourmet goodies. From cheeses and charcuteries to fresh-baked bread and specialty wines, it’s a heavenly experience for both coffee lovers and foodies alike.
Bitty & Beaus
We would be remiss to create a list about the best coffee shops in Charleston and not include Bitty & Beau’s. Nestled next to the bustling Charleston City Market, this acclaimed coffee shop is more than just a place for your next cup of joe. It’s a place where love and acceptance brew as strongly as the coffee.
Bitty & Beau’s is a proud B Corporation™, committed to their admirable mission of providing employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As you sit back and savor your latte, you’ll be inspired by the warmth, friendliness, and dedication of the staff.
So, if you’re seeking out the best Charleston coffee shops, Bitty & Beau’s isn’t just a pit stop, it’s a must-visit. We guarantee, it’s an experience that will warm not just your taste buds, but your heart too as you will be supporting a great cause.
Other Coffee Shops in Downtown Charleston
While we do our absolute best to visit every coffee shop in Charleston, there are always one or two that we don’t make it to. Other great coffee shops that constantly top the list are Babas, The Daily, and Sightsee Coffee. We can’t wait to visit these shops on our next visit to Charleston to see what the buzz is all about!
Best Cafes in Charleston’s Neighborhoods
Park Circle Co-op – Park Circle
If you’re willing to venture a little outside of downtown Charleston, you’ll uncover a hidden gem in the Park Circle neighborhood – the Park Circle Co-op. This spot is not just one of the best coffee shops in Charleston, SC, but also a treasure trove of artisanal and local items.
Here, the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee mingles with the captivating smell of baked goods, filling the air with an irresistible allure that’s hard to ignore.
As you grab your fresh coffee, take a moment to explore the Co-op’s range of local products. From local produce, preserves, and honey, to handmade wares like baskets and clay mugs there’s something to pique every interest.
So, if you’re on the hunt for the best coffee in Charleston, SC, and want to take a little piece of Charleston back home with you, make sure to swing by Park Circle Co-op.
Orange Spot – Park Circle
One of my favorite coffee shops in Charleston has always been the Orange Spot located in the up-and-coming Park Circle neighborhood. With tons of space to spread out and enjoy your coffee with friends or your laptop, this charming cafe is a great spot for visitors looking for a new spot for coffee.
The bright and airy interior, filled with natural light, is the perfect place to hunker down for a few hours of work. Plus, they serve up some amazing coffee – from classic espressos and drip coffee to specialty lattes and mochas.
Orange Spot offers many sandwiches and pastries to pair with your brew as well.
King Bean Coffee Roasters – Park Circle
Another great cafe situated in the eclectic Park Circle neighborhood is King Bean Coffee Roasters. This beloved local hideaway is famed for its exceptional coffee, roasting their beans on-site to ensure every cup is as fresh as possible.
Island Provisions – Johns Island
A surprising change of pace from your typical coffee shop, Island Provisions is a cafe with an extensive natural wine offering as well as various local goods. Swing by to try their unique house-made syrups like Rosemary, and grab a slice of avocado toast to pair with it.
Pick up some snacks and a bottle of natural wine to bring with you for later.
Low Tide Brewing – Johns Island
If you’re hunting for the best coffee and a unique experience in Charleston, you have to make a stop at Low Tide Brewing on Johns Island.
In the mornings, they serve some aromatic and invigorating coffee. As the day wanes, the coffee aroma is gradually replaced by the rich, hoppy scent of their house-made beers.
Visitors can choose to sip their drink in the ambient indoors, but the outdoor seating area is a real highlight, providing an enjoyable and relaxed setting for savoring whichever brew.
What’s more, the live music performances add to the lively and vibrant atmosphere. Come for the coffee, stay for the beer, and relish the music!
Charleston Coffee Exchange – West Ashley
Sacks of locally roasted coffee beans from all over the world, including Costa Rica, Ethiopia, and Honduras, will greet you from the counter when you enter Charleston Coffee Exchange.
With a commitment to ethical sourcing, owner Paul takes a hands-on approach, personally visiting small farms to ensure fairness and quality. The coffee here holds Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certifications, with a significant portion being organic.
Dedication to excellence is evident in Charleston Coffee Exchange’s association with the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), which sets the gold standard in coffee. Not only is the shop certified, but individual employees also undergo specialty training in various aspects, from barista skills to roasting and tasting. Some even travel to farms to assist in their coffee growth, demonstrating an exceptional commitment to the coffee industry.
The menu boasts over 20 varieties of coffee, with Ethiopia Yergeshev and four types from Costa Rica being the significant highlights. Some exclusive blends are only available online or to specific wholesale clients. You’ll also find a delightful selection of flavors, from Blueberry to Coconut and Buttered Rum, with a choice of 4 seasonal blends at any time.
What’s more, the Charleston Coffee Exchange partners with Little Peanuts, a local pastry shop, to offer fresh pastries – the perfect accompaniment to your coffee.
With plans to set up a full coffee/espresso bar at their warehouse, complete with pour-overs and French presses, Charleston Coffee Exchange continues to innovate. Keep an eye out for their upcoming tours and tasting events.
Coffee Shops in the Greater Charleston Area
Lodi – North Charleston/Mount Pleasant
When I asked local friends for the best cafes in Charleston, Lodi was often shouted out on the list. So when I made the trek up to the Cypress Gardens, I decided to swing by their drive-up window.
The iced coffee was unexpectedly delightful! While their food options are limited, they compensate with a wide variety of other beverage choices.
Map of Cafes in Charleston SC
As you can see, the coffee scene in Charleston is booming and there is no shortage of incredible cafes for whatever your coffee needs may be.
Take some time to slow down, stay awhile, and sip the flavor of your next favorite cafe in Charleston.
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