A few years ago, Charleston could only boast a few really great coffee shops, but cozy places to get a specialty coffee are on the rise. Here are the six best places to grab a hand-crafted latte, espresso, or coffee and a fresh pastry in West Virginia’s capital city.
Cafe, Vegetarian, $$$
Real dedication goes into the coffee and pastries at the café at Taylor Books. Owner Ann Saville gets up each morning to make her famous scones or other types of breakfast bread and has a case full of fresh baked goods ready by the time the bookstore and café open. If you’re a later riser, the café also offers your typical lunch fare, plus homemade quiche and chicken pot pie, and is open late every day except Sunday. With plenty of places to sit, you can settle in with your favorite read or the day’s newspaper, meet with friends, or just enjoy your spot in a historic building surrounded by great books.
Everyone loves the relaxed vibe at Moxxee Coffee, located in a little, free-standing building close to the hospital and Clay Center. The menu has all the modern coffee shop specialties, from frozen chai and mochas to classic espresso drinks. House specialties include the Double Down, a ristretto espresso shot in whole milk with espresso syrup; the Milk & Honey latte, honey-sweetened whole milk with a shot of espresso; and the Muscovado brown sugar latte. All drinks come in one size only. Moxxee is also not just about coffee; they also offer a number of specialty teas that are brewed with care and attention to steeping times and water temperature.
Tucked inside the Capitol Market is Mea Cuppa Coffeebar. Located at the site of the Kanawha and Michigan Railroad rail yard, the market and Mea Cuppa are open daily throughout the year. Mea Cuppa opened in 2015, and it has quickly become a favorite in Charleston. The coffee bar prides itself on serving natural, organic, and fair-trade coffee when possible and making coffee culture accessible to everyone. Each month, Mea Cuppa offers specialty themed drinks, and the artist who designs the sign gets a month a free coffee. Grab a cup and wander around the market to explore the food and farm vendors, or buy a pound of whole-bean coffee from local roasters.
Good bagels are not easy to come by in West Virginia, but if you are in Charleston, Starlings Coffee & Provisions is the place to go. The breakfast sandwiches also come on homemade English muffins, another local favorite. And the lattes, tea, and coffee are winners too. But beware—this is just your morning and midday coffee shop, as it closes in the early afternoon every day.
If you’re on the west side of Charleston, check out Cafe Crema. Opened in 2016 by a mother-daughter team, the café offers all the espresso classics in two sizes, as iced or hot, or pour overs, along with a variety of teas and chai drinks. You can get a more substantial breakfast than just pastries with oatmeal, waffles, grits, or the daily special, or stop in later for sandwiches, salads, and soups for lunch.
In 1910, Italian immigrants made up 30% of West Virginia’s population. They arrived to work in the coal and logging industries and have left an indelible mark on the food and culture of the state. Today, you can get a little taste of authentic Italy at Caffé Romeo on the south side of Charleston. The small café uses beans toasted in the Neapolitan way to make espresso drinks. And in true Italian fashion, they also offer homemade Italian-style gelato.