The Coffee Crawl
Lorelai Gilmore of the hit television show Gilmore Girls said it well: “I can’t stop drinking the coffee; if I stop drinking the coffee, I stop doing the standing, and the walking, and the words-putting-into-sentences doing.”
I feel exactly the same way.
If I don’t pour myself a steaming hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning, my entire day feels off. A good, quality coffee has the power to change the day.
There needs to be more to a cup of coffee than just the typical Starbucks brew or a pop-in, easy, Keurig cup. It should be about the flavor, the richness, the fullness; even more so, it should also be about the community and bringing people together.
In Charlotte, this quality can be found all over at the city’s many specialty coffee shops.
So, food blogger and avid coffee lover, Meredith Banks (@clt_foodie), and I set out on our adventure to discover what’s happening in Charlotte’s coffee scene.
And we’re buzzing about what we found.
1ST STOP: The Suffolk Punch
Food, coffee, cocktails – The Suffolk Punch has got it all.
With real greenery hanging all over, the place inspires one to get lost in the space and the wood and metal accents break up the room – a blend of whimsy and modern.
Their warm, welcoming interior invites customers in and encourages relaxation. We totally fell for that vibe – and ordered “Warming Spices” lattes. The drink reminded me instantly of Fall which is always a funny feeling when you’re in the throes of a hot and humid summer day. The drink’s warm temperature delivered a warm feeling immediately.
Today, creating latte art is both a creative process – and an exact science. The heart rosette on my latte brought artistry to what could just be simple coffee.
In that sense, it was truly a cup of love which I think speaks to Suffolk Punch’s overall vibe – they invite customers in to really, truly enjoy their coffee.
Ironically, they brew Hex (which was our next stop).
2ND STOP: Hex
Oh, Hex, yes.
This spot not only understands coffee, but also recognizes the importance of community and a community’s relationship to coffee. We felt that the minute we walked in – and the minute we left. “Goodbye, thanks for stopping by!” said the owner as we walked out.
Hex’s environment is friendly and family-oriented. How many coffee shops have an owner so committed he’s walking around and talking to customers? I think you notice that friendly vibe because the space is designed so intentionally simple. It’s clean and crisp – minimalistic and white. In doing so, there’s room for people and personality – and, of course, fresh coffee. They even share a space with Good Bottle Co. This special kind of “coworking” fosters that extra creativity and community.
I ordered a draft vanilla latte; Banks ordered a cold brew; both were available on tap.
These drinks are fun for those under 21 (like me!) because you’re getting a craft drink straight from the tap.
3RD STOP: Enderly Coffee Co.
Enderly started out as a roastery in 2012 which means they know how to roast and brew a good cup of coffee.
With the opening of their new coffee shop, they’re more about the community than ever before.
Like the pops of yellow in their space, Enderly is a bright light in the neighborhood of West Charlotte. Goodwill bakes all of their pastries and owner Tony Santoro hires people who live nearby. This not only supports the community, but also teaches more people how to make a quality coffee.
Enderly maintains a good balance of relating to its people and educating every patron all at the same time. There’s a kid-friendly play area in one corner, and then a roaster in another.
I decided to cool things down. I ordered an iced chai with oat milk; Banks ordered a hot cappuccino also made with oat milk. This dairy alternative proved tasty, adding nutty, robust flavors to my spicy chai and her cappuccino.
If we figured out anything from the coffee crawl, it’s this – coffee is really, truly about community.
“I love the focus on people and relationships in most of the local coffee shops, at Enderly especially. They are very ‘people-focused,’” said Banks. And it’s true. The baristas at each respective location talked with us while we were there. I like getting to know the person who made my coffee; it feels so much more personal and real versus a barista yelling “Emma!” when my coffee is ready for me.
Banks and I are both Charlotte natives. Having lived here our entire lives, we know this community better than anyone. And we can speak to the fact that this Charlotte community wouldn’t be the same without these specialty coffee shops or the intimate communities made possible at each one.
I definitely spend more money on coffee than I need to. But because of what we discovered, a cup of coffee in Charlotte, served with style by someone who cares, is priceless to me.