Loading your recommendations…

Durham's Best Coffee Spots

Estimated Read Time:
3 minutes

Durham's boldness is brewed fresh at these gems, and all are approved and raved about by locals.

Posted By Ashley Strahm

You're probably wondering how we made this list, and we don't blame you. With so many places both tucked away and on main strips in Durham's most populated streets, we polled locals on social media to suggest favorites to add to the list of the best coffee shops to enjoy year-round.

This post was originally published pre-pandemic. Please check with each coffee spot directly prior to visiting to find out which safety measures are in place and if hours have temporarily changed.

For a bite with your brew

Beyù Caffè and Beyù Blue are owned by Dorian Bolden, a 2002 Duke alum. Upon receiving his diploma, he left the Bull City for the Big Apple to begin work as a Wall Street stockbroker, but eventually opened Beyù Caffè in the heart of downtown Durham after returning home in 2005. “I am a firm believer that what has always separated Durham from any other place, and the reason that we call it Dirty Durham, is diversity,” Bolden said. “... I am hoping new companies coming to Durham like it for its authenticity and its grit, and work to maintain diversity in the workforce." At the beginning of October, the downtown location started to allow for orders to be taken inside.

Cloche Coffee is one of the latest coffee shops to arrive in the Ninth Street district across from East Campus. The beautiful tranquil interior is the perfect place to work, catch up with friends, or recharge. They serve organic, ethically sourced and fair trade coffee from Larry’s Coffee.

When Areli Barrera de Grodski and Leon Barrera Grodski opened their third Cocoa Cinnamon location in Lakewood (featuring very delicious homemade churros and drinking chocolate), they were intentional about hiring locals to craft their bold beverages for students, visitors and residents alike. You’ll find the original bike they outfitted to grind and serve coffee around town on display as well as vibrant colors and details in design inspired by Areli’s family-owned churreria in Mexico. What's more, Cocoa Cinnamon recently changed its coffee-roasting company name and branding to Little Waves Coffee Roasters, and the brand is already making big waves nationally.

Durham Co-op Market

We know what you're thinking — so many urban places have a co-op market. But you're never been to one like this. The Durham co-op invites you to shop your values; their offerings are responsibly sourced and many of their warm beverages are handmade on-site. The shop feels more like a slightly fluorescent living room, with families, free samples, and plenty of areas to cozy up with a warm mug.

Foster Street Coffee

Foster Street Coffee is situated between the Durham Food Hall and a few steps up from chicken and waffles at Dame's. It is half of a block from acres of park pleasantries at Durham Central Park, making for perfect stop after the Durham Farmers' Market or to stopover as you wind your way through the Geer St. corridor.

Joe Van Gogh

Study vibes. Beverages. Warmth and sweet sips. Find it all at their two Durham locations on Broad Street and Woodcroft.

Triangle Coffee House

Nestled between the storefronts frequented by students, locals, and visitors alike, this glass-front coffee shop is exactly what we're talking about when we say R&R is yours to experience this season.

Oak House Durham

The original location of The Oak House in Elon, NC, was such a success that its owners decided to expand. Their craft coffee/wine bar concept is now in the heart of downtown Durham on the ground floor of One City Center. Stop by in the morning and sip on a cup of joe from Caballo Rojo’s in-house roastery. At night, cozy up at the bar or table with a great glass of wine. Oak House prides itself on having the best of both worlds.

Mad Hatter Cafe

After a recent redesign, Mad Hatter invites all to slow down and yes, smell the coffee. Morning, noon and night are all beautiful times to "clear your mind, indulge your senses and treat yourself." We're here for it.


Gourmet coffee all day, folks — from a place that's been catering in and around the Triangle since 1988.

Ninth Street Bakery

This beloved staple has been serving those beautiful bread and pastry smells in downtown Durham since 1981, but that's not all. Let those wisps of caffeinated vapor waft over you on their cozy patio or in their quaint indoor spaces.

Parker and Otis

Gifts. Goods. Grub... and it's all great. Jennings Brody has created an oasis of delightful food with fresh, local ingredients and wares that are perfect for any occasion. The Brightleaf Square staple is open seven days a week, serving breakfast and lunch with an amazing array of gifts, gourmet foods, cheese, wine and candy.

Off the beaten path

Bean Traders

Flannel and birkenstocks and mismatched mugs and plates and cutlery ... it's all a part of the charm of this south Durham gem, where high grade, delicious coffee is brewed with lots of study space and house-made treats to enjoy.

Dulce Cafe

Sweet doesn't even scratch the surface. Drink your warm beverage with a side of desert at this hidden gem. Located in south Durham at Sutton Station, this delectable spot earned this Yelp review: "Oh. My. God. So delicious. Why did I wait so long?? Their BLAT (bacon lettuce AVOCADO sandwich) is to die for. Their cobb salad? Perfection. All of their breakfast items also look amazing. And their portion sizes are VERY generous. Nothing to complain about here."

Esmeralda's Cafe

A hidden gem in Northgate Mall, this cafe offers a diverse selection of tea, coffee, fresh pastries and fresh fruit.


There is much, much more to be discovered betwixt the bamboo shoots and long grasses in this private oasis off 15-501. Namu's cafe is tucked away from its restaurant and is perfect for intimate conversation or solo relaxation.

People's Coffee

Mmmmhmmm — coffee for the people. People's coffee is intent on providing the best in roasted and brewed beans for visitors.

Counter Culture

Counter Culture is brewing beauty from beans, and folks are taking notice. There certainly is a distinct culture to their coffee! Although their brick and mortar is only open to the public at their training room on Fridays at 10 a.m., this Durham-based coffee roasting company has training locations throughout the country and delivers blends directly to your doorstep.

Warmth on wheels

Caffe Bellezza Mobile Coffee Bar

The inspiration behind his Italian-inspired mobile coffee bar began when owner Tim Morris took an unforgettable trip to Rome, Florence, and the Cinque Terre, Italy in 2012. The name Bellezza is Italian for 'beauty,' which is how he describes Caffee Bellezza coffee — as both a beverage and a personal work of art.

Caffe Bellezza Mobile Coffee Bar

Bonus: warm libations

A short walk across CCB plaza will bring you right to the door of the newly open and breathtakingly beautiful Jeddah's Tea, where you can sip both hot and iced beverages sweetened with handcrafted simple syrups and decadent honey. The sweet treats are locally created too and are delightful accompaniments to each perfectly steeped cup.

About the Author

Ashley Strahm

Jersey roots, Durham fruits. Lover of all things edible, egalitarian and true. Find me clad in Birkenstocks, seeking Bull City Beautiful stories by trail, wheel and spoke.