The indie coffee scene continues to explode in cities across the country, and Greenville, SC is no exception. Vibrant, independent coffee shops are now a popular alternative to common chains. This is no surprise as these local coffeehouses typically source high quality beans, provide personalized service, and offer a cozier atmosphere that makes you want to linger around with your drink and return again and again.
Greenville has been making headlines in recent years for its’ growing foodie scene, as more unique restaurants and coffee shops continue to sprout up and down historic Main Street. Relaxing in one of the many coffee houses lining Main is a fun and affordable activity to add to your Greenville to-do list.
Here are a few of my favorite Greenville coffee shops to consider during your visit.
1. Methodical Coffee
- Best for: Top-notch coffee
- Location: 101 N. Main St.
Quality-wise, Methodical offers the best drinks in downtown Greenville. The artisan coffeehouse began roasting its’ own beans (which you can now purchase at the shop) and continues to receive praise from top publications around the world.
Although pricing is quite high (7 bucks for 2 regular coffees!), it really is the best place to go if your primary concern is high quality coffee. Methodical specializes in single origin coffee, cold brews, & pour over, using top end equipment like the luxurious Slayer espresso machine. The coffee is always smooth and delicious on every visit, as opposed to other shops where your drink can be a hit or miss depending on the beans used that day.
The coffee of the day is always excellent and the Americano is definitely the smoothest, most flavorful in town. If you are in the mood for something a bit sweeter, be sure to try out their fabulous mocha. Asides the wonderful coffee, the presentation of the drinks in gorgeous Blue Willow china, is really what sets this coffeehouse experience apart from others in the area.
Best mocha in town, hands down!
Methodical also serves tasty pastries. Pictured below is a delicious “healthier” cinnamon roll.
The ambiance here is modern and trendy, with an attractive 2 story layout. Upstairs, you can enjoy your drink while gazing outside the humongous windows overlooking the downtown. Soft music plays in the background via a record player. Outside they have a small patio which is great for people watching during the warmer season. Overall, this is the best spot in town for a coffee date due to the stylish ambiance and beautiful presentation.
2. Port City Java
- Best for: Outdoor seating
- Location: 11 S. Main Street
Port City Java is a popular Carolina based coffee shop which originally opened in Wilmington, NC in 1995, and has since then spread to include numerous locations throughout the Carolinas. They offer a variety of drips each day including a decaf, house blend, a single origin, and a fair trade/organic option. Their homemade muffins are excellent – if available, treat yourself to the red velvet!
All the drips I have tried have been delicious and it’s great that they offer an organic option for the health conscious. The Americano is decent, although a bit strong for my taste. If you like stronger espresso drinks, this is the place to go as they use an extra shot in all their drinks (although you have the option to reduce the number of shots).
If your visit falls during the summer and you are craving something cool & refreshing, try out their delicious mocha milkshake. Port City also offers a large selection of caffeine-free drinks (smoothies, ice teas), and thus, is a great choice if you are traveling with anyone who doesn’t drink coffee.
Pricing here is totally affordable (about 4 bucks for 2 coffees) and they are one of the few places in town to offer a free refill. There is almost never a long line and service is quick.
The best aspect of Port City Java is their beautiful outdoor seating areas. They have a large shared courtyard in the back which is surrounded by lovely trees, and out front you can sip your drink while watching all the action on Main St. This coffee shop definitely offers the best patio of the bunch, so if your visit falls during the spring or summer months, give them a try!
3. 101 Espresso Bar
- Best for: a unique setting & great service
- Location: 101 Wade Hampton Blvd.
101 Espresso Bar is one of the few decent coffee shops located outside of the downtown region, although it is just minutes away, so still easily accessible. If you are looking to avoid the noisy crowds and hassle of finding parking, 101 is a great option.
This coffee shop is housed in a very peculiar looking building, and thus, the overall vibe is a bit more eclectic, and a little less corporate than nearby options. 101 feels a bit more local, and baristas are friendlier and more sociable. Service is always perfect. One friendly barista even offered to carry my drink upstairs for me and is always around to provide free refills.
The interior is stylish with a cool spiral staircase which leads up to a quiet upstairs loft area with big windows.
The outdoor patio is perfect on a mild spring or summer morning. This is one of the few coffee shops where you will not have to fight for a seat!
4. Swamp Rabbit Cafe
Best for: Delicious coffee (beans from NC roaster Counter Culture), Fresh fruits and veggies on-site, located right next to the Swamp Rabbit trail
Location: 205 Cedar Lane Rd
The Swamp Rabbit Cafe is a co-op/coffee shop. In addition to serving excellent coffee from NC local roaster, Counter Culture, they also whip up a fresh batch of homemade pastries daily. The house made Cinnamon roll is ginormous and worth every calorie. They even offer a gluten-free/vegan donut, which honestly offers the same sugary satisfaction as the gluten loaded alternative.
A vegan strawberry donut and cinnamon roll. Both amazing, probably loaded with sugar, however, you can always hike on the bike path for walk/ride to burn off those calories!
Blueberry pie and a chocolate croissant! More like dessert than breakfast, but so worth it for a little weekend treat!
While the interior is nothing to write home about, they do offer a nice covered patio. Spring, fall, and early summer are the best seasons to enjoy your drink outside.
The cafe also offers fresh seasonal produce, fruit from local farms, and housemade Stecca bread daily.
And, best of all, one of the nicest sections of the Swamp Rabbit trail begins right here. There is a free parking lot, so you can hop right on the trail after your breakfast. Bike rentals are available for $15 per day.
5. West End Coffee Shoppe
Best for: Avoiding the crowds and traffic on South Main St.
- Best for: Avoiding the hectic crowds on Main St.
- Location: 1021 S. Main Street
West End Coffee Shoppe is a great choice for those looking to escape the crowds as it is located in the quieter West End of Main Street. If you plan on attending a Greenville Drive game at Fluor Field, this is a great choice as the field is within walking distance. Also, there are numerous restaurants and boutique shops to stroll through in this part of town.
The design is minimal, although the exposed brick walls add a nice historic touch. Large windows offer the perfect setting for people watching while enjoying your cup of joe. The Brew of the Day, available in a medium or dark roast, is always excellent. The artisan roasted coffee beans come from parent company, West End Coffee roasters, one of the oldest roasters in the Carolinas.
If you are up for something a bit different, a number of creative drinks are on the lineup. For example, the Yea THAT Chai (espresso shots, chai, and steamed milk topped with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkles) and the Dublin Downtown (espresso shots with vanilla, Irish cream, and steamed milk topped with whipped cream and espresso powder) are 2 interesting choices for the more adventurous.
Bonus: Old Europe
- Best for: A treat to go along with your coffee
- Location: 716 S. Main Street
Old Europe is one of the newest additions to the ever growing Greenville coffee scene. Asheville’s oldest coffeehouse, known for its’ decadent pastry offerings, is now located in the West End. If not for the mediocre coffee, it would definitely be up there near the top of this list. While the coffee is a bit too bitter and burnt tasting for my liking, the treats are amazing!
This is the place to go for a winning dessert, whether it be cheesecake, eclairs, tiramisu, and cookies. Breakfast offerings including Quiche, breads, various croissants, and muffins. One of the few places in town where you can get a Quiche, and fortunately, it’s pretty amazing!
Note: The Village Grind is a decent coffeehouse, although way too crowded for my taste. The coffee is great and the decor appealing, unfortunately, it is noisy and extremely overcrowded most of the time. If you are willing to put up with the crowds, stop by for a great cup of coffee!
Full service restaurants serving great coffee: Passerelle Bistro, Soby’s, Crêpe du Jour. If you prefer a full meal along with your coffee, there are numerous restaurants which do not offer your standard Folgers. Check out one of the above mentioned restaurants which serve up a great brunch menu, along with a great cup of joe.