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The Daily Tar Heel

"Wanna grab coffee after class?"

It is a core college experience. It includes a 16-ounce cup, conversation that lasts several hours and a few acquaintances that will inevitably become your family. 

Coffee shops are a delicious way to create and strengthen friendships, experience the Chapel Hill and Carrboro community at its most basic level and drain what little is left of that college budget. Here are some iconic spots that may become the backdrop of your best memories.

1922 by Carolina Coffee Shop

Started by Chapel Hill’s oldest continuously running restaurant, Carolina Coffee Shop, 1922 is a nostalgic token of the town’s unique history. Carolina Coffee Shop has been a staple for over a hundred years, serving generations of Tar Heels — firmly persisting even when other iconic restaurants have recently closed their doors. 

In 2022, to celebrate its 100-year anniversaryCarolina Coffee Shop opened 1922, which offers grab-and-go style coffee and pastries. They have a variety of drink options from espressos to cold brew to non-coffee beverages like hot chocolate.

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

This coffee shop and bookstore is essential in a typical UNC student’s weekly coffee rotation. 

The sense of community here is palpable. This is both a place where old friends can meet and where two strangers might strike a riveting conversation. It is also an ideal first-date spot — the books, numerous tables and pastry options invite conversation. It’s also, for the careful listener, the perfect spot to eavesdrop on those first dates.

Epilogue offers delicious coffee with its espresso drinks and house-made syrups. But the real star of the show here is the chocolate. Any chocolate-based drink like their Mexican chocolate, mocha or frozen chocolate is a must-try. Their vegan churros are delicious, especially when dipped in the chocolate sauce. They also have an extensive breakfast menu, featuring chilaquiles, breakfast burritos and omelets.

Caffe Driade

If Epilogue is about riveting conversation, Caffe Driade embodies a comfortable, transcendental silence. Set in beautiful natural scenery — where there are breathtaking gardens, fountains and sculptures against the backdrop of the woods in the Bolin Creek Trail — Caffe Driade is a magical place to be on an early summer morning. 

This coffee shop has been a Chapel Hill staple for 30 years and is independent and locally-owned. They offer delicious brewed coffee and espresso drinks, as well as non-caffeinated drinks like kombucha, soda and a variety of teas. The cafe also sells baked goods — my personal favorite is their flaky and indulgent chickpea tartine

Breakaway Chapel Hill

This is more of a restaurant than a traditional coffee shop, but the coffee options are delicious, and it’s a great place to work and socialize. So, in my book, that checks all the boxes.

This restaurant-cafe offers delicious and cross-cultural breakfast options like huevos rancheros and the Breakaway Breakfast, which features grilled halloumi. If you want something a little more substantial than coffee and a pastry, but you still want a casual place to hang out or do some work, this is the spot for you. 

Gray Squirrel Coffee Co.

This one is for the coffee connoisseurs (many might say snobs, but I disagree). Gray Squirrel is renowned for their delicious coffee blends, featured in their incredible espresso drinks. This coffee shop is insistent on serving their customers exclusively high-quality coffee. Since coffee beans are a seasonal product, their team works to test the latest harvests to see which is bestThey also have pastries like cookies, madeleines, scones and tea cakes.

Coffee shops across Chapel Hill offer a delicious remedy to loneliness and stress in college. There are many more options in the area that are worth exploring. So, every now and then, indulge in that 12-ounce cup of coffee coupled with a three-hour long debrief. It may make or break your college experience.

@dthlifestyle |

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