11 of the Most Fantastic Charleston Coffee Shops

coffee ready to be served at one of the best charleston coffee shops
The first time I drank coffee, I felt like I could wrestle a pig–literally.
I experienced my first jolt of energy, concentration, and vigor while working at a farm in upstate New York. I had to be dissuaded from wrestling one of the pigs on the farm. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked. For this particular addiction, I moved to the right place. As is the case with any major hipster city, there are more than a few excellent Charleston coffee shops to be found.
I have to admit that I was not much of a coffee snob before moving to Charleston. I’m still not too elitist about my coffee choices. I recently accepted gas station coffee to avoid a caffeine withdrawal headache. But I do know and appreciate good coffee, as I have to keep the beast at bay, especially early mornings.

The 11 Best Charleston Coffee Shops

Without further ado, my favorite top 10 Charleston coffee shops are:

1. Brown’s Court Bakery

This place is pretty cute. It’s a bakery within a converted Charleston single home. There are porches and an upstairs area to spread out and do some work while sipping your freshly brewed coffee or tea. Brown’s Court Bakery also has some fantastic baked goods like baguettes and macaroons, many of which sell-out early in the morning. This is the place I frequented almost daily back when I was unemployed. Of the Charleston coffee shops, this one is the best place to work, though socializing is not frowned-upon.

2. Kudu

This was one of the more unique business combinations in Charleston when it first opened. Kudu is both a coffee shop as well as a bar, though it closes at 9 pm. Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer offers the typical fare of any coffee shop like ham and cheese croissants. As their name implies, they also have a sweet craft beer selection to enjoy any time of day. The outdoor patio is a fantastic place to relax, or read. There’s no Wifi at Kudu, so work is difficult to do here. But that’s the point.

3. Black Tap

Kudu probably has the best atmosphere of the Charleston coffee shops downtown. And yet, Black Tap Coffee arguably has the best coffee. This place is down on Beaufain Street. I sometimes take a stroll down here on Sundays to read the New York Times, which is free and readily available on the tables. Their pour-over coffee is considered the best by all the Charleston coffee snobs I know. Other popular items include the China Black Tea and Iced Vanilla Latte. That said, the space is a little small with seating that fills up fast.

4. City Lights Coffee

This quaint little place is on Market Street, close to the Charleston City Market. Run by an Irishman, it has the feel of an Irish pub or cafe. City Lights Coffee is usually the go-to place if I’m starting to feel drained in the touristy part of historic downtown Charleston. It beats the Starbucks a few blocks away, hands down.

5. The Daily

work station all set up at brown's court bakery, one of the best charleston coffee shops
Located on King Street where the North and South-bound parts of Route 17 split into separate by-passes, The Daily is the epitome of cool. You can sit outside in a fairly exposed outdoor seating area, or enjoy the industrial-style though open interior. Besides their hot and iced coffee, their smoothies, breakfast sandwiches, and especially their bread is not to be missed.

6. Bearded Cafe

Recently opened up on Spring Street is the Bearded Cafe. The friendly (and bearded, of course) staff serves local King Bean coffee. All coffee is served using the elite pour-over technique style of serving coffee. With specials every weekday and special discounts hidden in some sleeves of your drink, the Bearded Cafe is worth checking out when you’re exploring the area. The Bearded Cafe is near Xiao Bao Biscuit and other nearby Charleston casual restaurants in the hip Elliotborough-Cannonborough neighborhood.

7. Tricera Coffee

This little cafe close to the Cistern of the College of Charleston campus has taken an owner’s obsession with triceratops to a whole new level. The entire cafe is themed around the dinosaur, with fossils decorating the walls. Tricera Coffee offers some things one expects at a coffee shop. It also has more unique offerings like a saffron latte, an egg sandwich on an everything bagel, or even a glazed donut sandwich on the menu.

8. King Street Cookies

Although the name implies otherwise, King Street Cookies has some great coffee. It also makes a point of highlighting that its coffee is local and a better experience than the Starbucks on the other side of Calhoun Street from it. And you can feed your sugar addiction after taking care of your caffeine addiction with one or more of their dozens of varieties of cookies.

9. Harold’s Cabin

Up by me, this is a recent addition to the restaurant and coffee shop scene in Charleston. Bill Murray’s new restaurant at the corner of Congress and President, Harold’s Cabin has some of the best coffee in Charleston. And its atmosphere is great for relaxing, though I suspect ordering a coffee, whipping out a laptop, and getting to work may not be encouraged.

10. Collective Coffee Company

coffee maker at one of the best charleston coffee shops
Tricera Coffee replaced Collective Coffee Company at its downtown location. That said, the Mount Pleasant coffee shop is still doing quite well. The industrial feel of the interior of the Collective Coffee Company is hip, and features all the classic menu items one expects to find at a coffee shop. It also offers breakfast and lunch everyday. The friendly and helpful staff at Collective Coffee will help regulars and newbies to the rotating collection of Counter Culture coffees and Rishi teas. In this hipster’s opinion, Collective Coffee Company is arguably the best coffee shop in Mount Pleasant, SC.

11. Charleston Coffee Roasters

If you’re looking for another locally-produced coffee from here in Charleston, Charleston Coffee Roasters is made on Huger Street. It’s right next to Palmetto brewing company. While their product is available in most grocery stores in the area, their brand is more often found in local Charleston restaurants like:
  1. Fish
  2. Five Loaves
  3. Graze
And there you have it, this hipster’s favorite coffee shops in Charleston, South Carolina (and nearby). Personally, sitting and reading with a cup of coffee is one of my favorite things to do in Charleston, SC.
So grab a book from one of the nearby used book stores in Charleston and head to one of these chill, relaxed, and above all hip locations to imbibe your favorite caffeinated beverage. Preferably before you bite someone’s head off.