Charleston’s Coffee Culture

“I love going to coffee shops and just sitting and listening.” ~ Julie Roberts

Locally Owned Coffee Shops

One of the first things I research when I travel to a new city are the local coffee shops. Obviously I love my coffee and while I might judge a place if they don’t have a Starbucks, the real judgement, is if they don’t have independently owned coffee shops and cafes.


History has long shown how pivotal coffee shops or cafes have played in the honing of artists, philosophical ideas, writing, even political revolution. They are a gathering for the creative types to not just get caffeinated, but to think and create.

While I don’t deny my love for Starbucks, I much prefer to shop and frequent independent cafes. It not only helps support small businesses and the local commerce, but it also gives me the vibes of a city.


Charleston Coffee Culture

You can tell a LOT about a city from their coffee shops.

I had heard that Charleston was a hub for artists, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that they were also a mecca for coffee. I admit, even I was impressed with how much Charlestonians LOVE their coffee. They had coffee shops upon coffee shops, from the trendy, to the hipster, to the bohemian, if it was the coffee Olympics, they would have won the gold.

It was coffee all day, every day, and in my sleep!


City Lights Coffee

A shop that kept coming up in my Google and Yelp searches, was City Lights Coffee. When I arrived at my hotel, one of the first things I asked, since I had been up long before it should be legal, was where the best (and closest) coffee shop was located. The clerk right away mentioned City Lights Coffee.

As luck would have it, it was only two blocks away and right between, the street the hotel was on, and King Street, the shopping mecca of Charleston.


It was a sign that this would become my local coffee home while I was there.

It looked like a hole in the wall, but a popular one at that! The shop was tiny, and mostly taken up by a large counter that had seating reminiscent of an old school diner, with a few tables against the wall which also displayed local artwork. It had a large coffee menu, as well as extensive baked goods which included vegan and gluten free options.


It was not only a happening place every time I went in, but the baristas and owner were always full of that Southern hospitality you hear so much about. The owner remembered not just me, but also my drink order after my first visit.

I am not one for ice coffee, unless it is cold brew, but their iced lattes were delicious. They weren’t watered down, or to milky, but strong and sweet. It was a shop, that if I lived in Charleston I could see myself going to write and meet friends every day.


Café Framboise

Another coffee shop, which was more of a cafe, that I could see myself frequenting if I lived there, was Café Framboise. The brightly decorated cafe is also located just off of King Street and had an assortment of delicious coffees, teas and even wine in the afternoon. They also served delicious salads, crepes, and pastries.


I ended up hanging out there for a couple hours to charge my phone, regroup, and do some reading. It helped that the food was not only delicious, but so was the coffee!


The Lost Dog

Charleston and the surrounding towns and islands offer a wide range of breakfast and brunch places. One such place was Sullivan’s Island. While it was more restaurant then cafe, not only was their brunch delicious, but so was the coffee.


I had ordered a cappuccino and oh my lanta was it rich foamy goodness. The foam reminded me of a frothed meringue. In all my coffee drinking years, I had never seen foam this frothy or stiff. It was like drinking a cloud, but with caffeine. I was one happy caffeinated woman!


The Obstinate Daughter 

I don’t typically order coffee in restaurants, even if they do offer it, I usually find it watered down, and not as worthy as a true coffee shop. With long (amazing) jam packed days, I needed a pick me-up and I was pleasantly surprised by the Obstinate Daughter.


I honestly shouldn’t have been, because not only had the restaurant gotten amazing reviews, but by this point, I had long since discovered that Charleston really could do no wrong in the coffee department. Heck, even their Starbucks were filled with that charming Charleston architecture.

I had ordered a cafe au lait and it was strong, rich, and so yummy. It was also served in a le creuset cup and saucer, which as a former chef, I am obsessed with their dishes and they won major brownie points!

I could not have been more impressed, nor kept as highly caffeinated as I was, whilst in Charleston. It really was and is a coffee lovers happy place.


What is your favorite coffee shop in Charleston? Do you live in a city that has that coffee culture? 


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36 thoughts on “Charleston’s Coffee Culture

  1. Yaaaassssss! I’m so glad Charleston came through in the coffee department! I don’t drink a ton of coffee but when I do it has so much flavored cream in it that it’s probably no longer considered coffee (lol). In any case, I’m pumped that you had a good time and that the coffee shops were full of Southern Charm!

    1. Girl…I was in Coffee heaven! It was ah-may-zing! Bwahahaha, that might be how I drink mine. Maybe? Lol. I love me a good ol’ latte. Nothing beats that:) Thanks so much sweets! I really did! It was incredible! I wish I was still there! <3

  2. Locally owned coffee shops are THE BEST! I used to live in Cardiff and adored their many independent coffee shops- they also made for the best study locations! Xx

    1. They really are! And they do! I love going to a coffee shop and staking out a spot and just writing/studying/wasting time on Facebook…..Lol. Thanks for reading beauty! I hope you are having an amazing day! <3

    1. Hehe. I definitely did a little coffee detox when I returned home, but it was SO worth it! Thanks so much sweets! Thanks for stopping by! <3

    1. It was amazing! And these were only the ones that were in our area. There were a couple others I would have loved to check out! And girl yass! If you want to get to my heart remember my coffee order, and if you remember both my Winter and Summer orders, you can have all my possessions too. LOL. <3

  3. That City Lights iced coffee looks AMAZING! I’ve only been to Charleston once, but I loved the vibe. Everyone was so laid back, fashionable, comfortable, and just relaxed. Would love to go back one day and walk around the city more.

    1. It was SO yummy! I was seriously hooked the whole time I was there! It is amazing! I miss it so much! I hope you get to go back! Thanks for stopping by hun! <3

  4. I have a habit of going to chains when I go somewhere new, but you make such a good point! It would be great to visit a local cafe that has lots of history 😀

    1. I do understand that. It is easy to go to a place where you know the menu. While I went to local shops, my friend would go to Starbucks, so we always made two coffee trips. Lol. <3

  5. How much caffeine do you consume a day! 😆 I do like to try the local coffee shops when I’m trying rather than the chains – sometimes they’re hits, sometimes misses. I do get bummed out when I find a really great coffee place while travelling that isn’t available back home! I think Toronto is fairly tame in terms of coffee culture… it’s mostly chains: Tim Horton’s, Starbucks, Second Cup…

    1. To much…Way to much…Basically I have coffee running through my veins :p Lol. I do too! It is a great way to get the feel of a city.
      That is the worst part. I feel that way about Peets (which is a California chain) I LOVE their coffee, and there is only one in New York. (but it isn’t close to where I live) I am obsessed, but it isn’t popular on the east coast. Ooo I haven’t heard of Second Cup! Hope you are having an amazing week! <3

  6. I can definitely admit to having a coffee shop obsession – there are dozens of them here in Brighton and each one is unique in its own way and tells a different story, hence why I love finding new ones to visit as much as possible. As you said, they’re not only great for the actual drinks, but also as a spot for creativity and for the growth of ideas. Charleston seems like a coffee lover’s dream – I would love to one day visit the wonderful places you’ve mentioned in this post! Xx

    1. Yay for coffee obsessions! 🙂 I have heard great things about Brighton and when I (finallY!) go to England it is one of the places I want to visit! I love that so much! That sounds so cool! And it really is, which is why i love them so much! Yes I hope you get too you will be in coffee heaven! <3

  7. I’ve never been to Charleston (or America for that matter), but it looks like this place could rival Melbourne (in Australia) for it’s coffee obsession. It looks like a great place for a visit. If I ever get to America, and Charleston, I’ll have to look out for these places.

    1. Ahhh I have heard such amazing things about Melbourne and the fact they are obsessed with coffee just sealed the fact I NEED to go there now! Thanks for that info!:) It really is! I hope you get to visit, especially Charleston it is such a fun city! <3

  8. I also love checking out local coffee shops, It’s one of my favourite things to do in a new city 🙂 I’m not the biggest fan of Starbucks coffee, it always tastes burnt to me without a lot of added sugar so I prefer to go local.

  9. OK that picture of you in that ADORABLE green top is stunning!!! Seriously could be an ad. STOP, you are stunning. Writing these places down for some day down the road right now! XOO

    1. Awe thanks beauty! You are the sweetest! And seriously going to make my ego burst! ;p But no seriously thank you for the sweet words! Yes! YOU have to go to Charleston! I could see you there! <3

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