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The Best Coffee Shops in Downtown Charleston | 6 Must-Try Places

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Let’s talk coffee in Charleston! If you’re strolling through the cobblestone streets of Downtown Charleston, you’re in for a treat beyond the city’s famous Southern charm and historical allure. 

This city isn’t just about sumptuous Southern cuisine; it’s also a haven for coffee enthusiasts. From the sunlit patios to the cozy, art-filled nooks, Charleston’s coffee shops are brewing up some serious magic.

First up, let’s swing by Bitty and Beau’s Coffee, where every sip comes with a heartwarming story. 

This isn’t just your regular coffee stop; it’s a place that brews kindness as much as it does coffee. 

Then, for those of you who can’t resist a creative twist on your latte, Second State Coffee is your go-to. Lavender lattes, anyone?

Coffee shops in Downtown Charleston

Not to be outdone, Clerks Coffee Company, nestled in the Emeline hotel, brings a unique blend of coffee, community, and charm, perfect for both tourists and locals. 

And for those craving a space where coffee meets creativity, look no further than The Rise Coffee Bar. It’s a minimalist’s dream with a dash of downtown buzz.

Ah, and then there’s Mercantile & Mash, offering a diverse palette of flavors and experiences under one roof. It’s a culinary adventure waiting to be explored. 

Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer takes the experience outdoors, where their tranquil patio sets the stage for the perfect coffee rendezvous.

Last but definitely not least, The Rise Coffee Bar offers a snug escape for anyone looking to relish their coffee in peace.

So, there you have it, the magnificent seven of the best coffee shops in Downtown Charleston! Each with its own unique flavor, just like the city itself. Ready to explore? Let’s dive into the aromatic world of Charleston’s coffee culture, one cup at a time!

My Top Three Picks of the Spots For The Best Coffee Shops in Downtown Charleston

Restaurant Top PickOur Rating
The Rise Coffee BarLavender Honey iced latte5/5
Clerks Coffee CompanyCappucino4.5/5
Bitty and Beau’s CoffeeLarge mint frap4.5/5

The 6 Best Coffee Shops in Downtown Charleston

Bitty and Beau’s Coffee

159 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States // +18436090455

There’s something special about finding a place that serves up more than just a great cup of coffee. That’s exactly what I discovered at Bitty and Beau’s Coffee in Downtown Charleston. 

Picture a sunny Charleston day, the kind that makes you grateful for a bit of shade and a cool drink. 

That’s the day my friend and I decided to pop into Bitty and Beau’s for a much-needed caffeine fix.

As soon as we stepped in, the vibe was unmistakably cheery. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill coffee shop; it’s a place bursting with warmth and smiles. 

We were greeted by the friendliest staff, and the counter was lined with an array of tempting breakfast sandwiches, burritos, and an assortment of sweet treats. But what we were really after were their famed frappes.

mocha frap

I opted for the large mocha frap, a classic choice for a chocolate lover like myself. My friend, always one for something a bit different, chose the large mint frap

Let me tell you, these weren’t just any frappes. They were the perfect antidote to the Charleston heat, each sip better than the last, transporting us from the bustling city to a moment of blissful indulgence.

But here’s the thing that sets Bitty and Beau’s apart – it’s their heart. The story behind this coffee shop is as rich and inviting as their coffee. 

Bitty and Beau’s was born out of a mission to provide employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

This heartwarming premise is woven into every aspect of their service, making each visit more than just a coffee run – it’s an experience that touches your soul.

So, if you ever find yourself in Downtown Charleston, looking for a place to quench your thirst and warm your heart, Bitty and Beau’s is the spot. 

Trust me, grab a coffee here, and you’re not just getting a drink, you’re becoming part of a beautiful story.

Second State Coffee

70.5 Beaufain St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States // +18437934402

Let me take you on a little journey through the heart of Downtown Charleston to a place where coffee and creativity meet: Second State Coffee. 

Once known as Black Tap Coffee, this minimalist-chic coffee bar has become my go-to spot for some of the most inventive lattes in town.

The cafe was bathed in gentle sunlight, creating an ambiance that’s both inviting and inspiring. It’s the kind of place where you’ll find local creatives and neighborhood friends gathered around communal tables or perched at the window-bar seating, all buzzing with discussions about their latest projects or the day’s events.

Now, let’s talk about the coffee. Second State is renowned for its creative twists on classic lattes – think brown sugar or lavender – and their pour-over brew is nothing short of exceptional.

cappuccino

On a personal recommendation from one of the friendly baristas, I decided to try the brown sugar cappuccino

It was a delightful surprise! The espresso had a robust flavor with low acidity, and the sweetness was spot on, not overpowering but just enough to enhance the coffee’s rich notes.

To pair with my cappuccino, I chose a blueberry muffin. This wasn’t just any muffin; it tasted homemade, with a soft, moist texture that melted in my mouth. It was the perfect complement to my coffee, making my visit even more enjoyable.

For those venturing a bit further, there’s a Second State location in Mount Pleasant offering a full menu of hearty breakfast and lunch options. 

But for me, the Downtown Charleston spot holds a special charm. It’s more than just a coffee shop; it’s a vibrant community hub where every visit feels like a new experience.

Clerks Coffee Company

181 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States // +18434141676

Tucked away in the Emeline hotel, right on the bustling Market, Clerks is a vibrant oasis for both visitors and locals alike.

From the moment you step inside, you’re welcomed into a world where coffee is king and the vibe is always lively. 

Despite its popularity, there’s a certain coziness to Clerks that makes it a perfect spot for anyone looking to sip on a latte while diving into some work. 

The seating area, with its handsome backdrop, sets the stage for a productive yet relaxed experience.

But Clerks isn’t just about coffee and work. As the day transitions to evening, the place takes on a new life. Laptops close, and the coffee bar serves up a tempting selection of beer and wine. 

And let’s not forget the food – think slices of mouth-watering Detroit-style pizza and fresh, crisp salads.

cappuccino

Now, onto my personal favorites. The cappuccino here is not just a drink; it’s a work of art, complete with the cutest latte art you’ve ever seen. Pair it with their coffee cake, and you’re in for a treat. 

Seriously, this coffee cake is something else – it’s deliciously moist, perfectly sweet, and just heavenly. 

And if you’re in the mood for something a bit crunchier, their cookies are amazing – each bite better than the last.

The ambiance at Clerks Coffee Company adds to the charm. It’s cozy, inviting, and the service? Superb. The staff makes you feel right at home, adding to the overall delightful experience.]

Having explored many cafes in Charleston, I can confidently say Clerks Coffee Company stands out as one of my favorites.

Mercantile & Mash

701 E Bay St Suite 100-1, Charleston, SC 29403, United States // +18437932636

Have you ever stumbled upon a place that just instantly captures your heart? That’s exactly what happened to me with Mercantile & Mash in Downtown Charleston. 

Located just at the foot of the Ravenel Bridge, this sprawling establishment is more than just a coffee shop; it’s a delightful maze of culinary wonders.

Stepping into Mercantile & Mash feels like entering a wonderland for foodies. The ambiance is set by the charming brick building, which houses not only a coffee shop but also a whiskey bar, wine and butcher shops, plus an area for dining and games. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to explore every corner.

During my visit, the menu options were a feast for the eyes. It’s hard to choose with so many great offerings, but I went for the avocado toast

Let me tell you, this was not just any avocado toast. It was the largest, most delectable slice I’ve ever had, with the perfect balance of creamy avocado on crisp, fresh bread. The word ‘amazing’ doesn’t do it justice.

avocado toast

Have you ever stumbled upon a place that just instantly captures your heart? That’s exactly what happened to me with Mercantile & Mash in Downtown Charleston. 

Located just at the foot of the Ravenel Bridge, this sprawling establishment is more than just a coffee shop; it’s a delightful maze of culinary wonders.

Stepping into Mercantile & Mash feels like entering a wonderland for foodies. The ambiance is set by the charming brick building, which houses not only a coffee shop but also a whiskey bar, wine and butcher shops, plus an area for dining and games. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to explore every corner.

During my visit, the menu options were a feast for the eyes. It’s hard to choose with so many great offerings, but I went for the avocado toast

Let me tell you, this was not just any avocado toast. It was the largest, most delectable slice I’ve ever had, with the perfect balance of creamy avocado on crisp, fresh bread. The word ‘amazing’ doesn’t do it justice.

The Rise Coffee Bar

77 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States // +18435185117

Next is a little spot that is my go-to in Charleston for those days when I need a caffeine boost delivered with style and flavor. 

The Rise Coffee Bar, a modern, counter-serve cafe that’s all about serving top-notch espresso drinks, tea, cold-pressed juices, and a tempting array of baked goods.

The Rise may be petite, but it packs a mighty punch with its coffee offerings. It’s the kind of place that draws you in with the promise of a perfect cortado or a uniquely delightful honey lavender latte. 

Yes, the space inside is limited, which means most people grab their drinks to-go. But there’s a charm to this small yet bustling spot.

Located conveniently close to the hustle and bustle of King Street and its myriad of shops, The Rise is an ideal stop for a quick pick-me-up. I found it while wandering around, just slightly west of the main drag. 

latte

Despite its size, there are a few chairs available for those who want to sit and savor their drinks in a more relaxed setting. 

And for a more open, airy experience, there’s an inviting courtyard that’s perfect for enjoying your coffee while engaging in lively chats.

I decided to try their signature drinks: the Lavender Honey iced latte and the Vanilla Almond iced latte

Both were exceptionally tasty, striking the right balance between coffee richness and the unique flavors of lavender honey and vanilla almond.

What really stands out at The Rise, besides the coffee, is the friendly and efficient staff. Even when the lines get long – and they do – the team works swiftly, ensuring everyone gets their coffee fix without much of a wait. One of the best coffee shops in Downtown Charleston.

Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer

4 Vanderhorst St, Charleston, SC 29403, United States // +18438537186

For the last spot, in the heart of Downtown Charleston lies Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer, a charming cafe that’s a perfect blend of specialty coffee, craft beer, and an inviting atmosphere. 

This popular spot has carved out a niche for itself with its emphasis on relaxation and enjoyment, rather than being just another workspace.

One of the highlights of Kudu is its beautiful outdoor patio. This isn’t just another seating area; it’s a tranquil oasis in the middle of the city, complete with the soothing sound of a fountain. It’s the kind of place where you can sit back, sip your drink, and let the world go by.

Indoors, the cafe is equally welcoming with plenty of seating, but it’s the outdoor experience that truly sets Kudu apart. 

The decision to forgo WiFi is a subtle nudge for patrons to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with the present moment.

bagels

The coffee at Kudu is as delightful as the setting. Each brew is a testament to their dedication to quality, ensuring every cup is a delightful experience. 

And if you have a penchant for baked treats, you’re in for a treat. Their assortment ranges from quirky “pop-tarts” to classic muffins and bagels, including delicious day-old items that are hard to resist.

Cleanliness and comfort are apparent both inside and out, making Kudu a place you’d eagerly return to, whether you’re a Charleston local or just visiting.

Next time you’re in Downtown Charleston and looking for a place to unwind, remember Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer. 

It’s not just a cafe; it’s a sanctuary where you can enjoy a superb cup of coffee or a refreshing beer in a serene, welcoming environment. And one of the best coffee shops in Downtown Charleston.

FAQs

What makes coffee shops in Downtown Charleston unique?

Downtown Charleston’s coffee shops stand out for their blend of historic charm, innovative brews, and inviting atmospheres. 

Each cafe has its own personality, whether it’s the rustic elegance of a restored building or the creative flair of modern decor. 

The focus on quality, locally-sourced ingredients, and friendly, knowledgeable baristas adds to the uniqueness.

Are there any coffee shops in Downtown Charleston that serve more than just coffee?

Absolutely! Many coffee shops in Downtown Charleston, like Mercantile & Mash, offer a diverse menu including local beers, wines, and delicious food options like Detroit-style pizza and fresh salads. Clerks Coffee Company, located in the Emeline hotel, is another great option for a wider selection beyond coffee.

What is the best time to visit a coffee shop in Downtown Charleston to avoid crowds?

Weekday mornings or early afternoons are generally less crowded. Weekends, especially Sunday mornings, tend to be busier. However, each coffee shop has its own rhythm, so it might vary.

Wrapping Up: The 7 Best Coffee shops in Downtown Charleston

As we wrap up our caffeinated journey through Downtown Charleston, it’s clear that this city’s coffee scene is as rich and diverse as its history. 

Each coffee shop we’ve explored offers more than just a cup of joe; they provide unique experiences, a sense of community, and a window into the soul of Charleston. 

Whether you’re seeking a quiet corner to savor a meticulously crafted espresso, a lively spot to share laughs over lattes, or a sunny patio to enjoy an afternoon pick-me-up, Charleston’s coffee shops have you covered. 

They’re not just places to drink coffee; they’re destinations where memories are made, ideas are born, and the simple pleasure of a good cup of coffee is elevated to an art form. 

So, next time you’re in Charleston, take a moment to indulge in its vibrant coffee culture – it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.

Visiting other destinations in South Carolina? Check out our other delicious guides:

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