Coffee is a staple in nearly every college student’s life, but what’s good beyond the chain shops on Franklin Street? Dive staff writers visited South Rd. four different shops scattered around Carrboro and Chapel Hill. Which one suits your fancy?
At 1215 E. Franklin St., Caffe Driade is a bit of a walk from campus. But its secluded and intimate environment make it well worth the trip. Like its sister cafe, Open Eye, Driade carries beans from both shops’ parent business, Carrboro Coffee Company, which offers fair-trade and single-origin coffee and espresso beans.“Beyond our great product, people come here for the atmosphere,”said barista David Ruiz. “It’s a nice, cozy, magical location in the woods.”
Driade offers customers extensive outdoor seating — from a heated, covered porch to a walkway that leads you to additional seating immersed in the woods.
In addition to its food and beverage offerings, Caffe Driade also boasts one of the best selections of cigars in Chapel Hill, which can be enjoyed on one of their many patios. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to check out their Affogato, which Ruiz described as an espresso sundae.
Driade always features a local artist’s work on their walls and the installments change each month.
From May through October, Driade opens up its outdoor stage to local and nationally touring musicians alike for live music under the stars. -Lucian Crockett
The Looking Glass
Forget the library or Starbucks — there’s no better place to chill out or do work in this warm weather than at the Looking Glass Cafe, which sits at 601 W. Main St. in Carrboro.
The main customer base is older students who live in the Carrboro area, barista Tachelle Allen said. When asked why they pick Looking Glass over other coffee shops, she put it simply: “Starbucks’ coffee sucks. And our relaxed atmosphere and outdoor seating area provides something that the other shops don’t.”
The most coveted space is a single hammock above the flower garden beside the cafe, but if you can’t get it, there are picnic tables and comfortable wooden chairs to choose from, too.
Inside is equally as relaxing. A large fish tank lines the wall and there’s plenty of space between the tables. A boutique in the back sells local art, incense and tobacco supplies.
Looking Glass offers an extensive menu of coffee and teas. For some serious caffeine, a popular drink is the Jabberwocky: two shots of espresso mixed with coffee and dark chocolate. The house-made Italian soda, with over 30 flavors to choose from, makes for a refreshing, cold drink.
With its eclectic menu of paninis, burritos and quesadillas, Looking Glass’ food is as popular as its drinks. If you want something sweet, treat yourself to one of their locally made brownies, sticky rolls, croissants or other desserts. -Alex Dixon
Open Eye Cafe
Located at 101 S. Greensboro St., Open Eye Cafe is centrally located in Carrboro and also serves as the nerve center of Carrboro Coffee Company, which hosts training sessions and roasts beans on location. Open Eye offers ample room for its patrons, including outdoor seating and study rooms, but it can get quite loud and crowded during busier hours. There are several different seating options including comfy chairs for personal reading and large couches for conversing over a cup of joe.
Open Eye is also a social staple of Carrboro and even though it may look like people are busy doing work, it’s rumored that everyone there is actually trying to get laid. Despite this social standing, barista Michael Harwood points out that Open Eye’s real focus is on the coffee. “It’s a two fold thing where it’s that cliche third place where everyone can come hang out,”Harwood said.“But it’s also about craft coffee and being a place where you can get a quality cappuccino, a pour over or a French press.”
Like its sister store Caffe Driade, Open Eye also often features live music and monthly art installments. The cafe also often hosts special art exhibits for the monthly 2nd Friday Artwalk, where patrons have the opportunity to meet the featured artist of the month. -Lucian Crockett
With an expansive list of “magical mochas,”“mighty leaf teas” and tasty pastries, it’s no wonder the Daily Grind Espresso Cafe is a staple in hundreds of students’ morning wake-up routines.
Since 1993, the Daily Grind has quietly resided in the corner of Bulls Head Bookshop, the perfect location for students and teachers on the run. Sister cafes to the Daily Grind include the Global Cup Cafe located in the FedEx Global Education Center and the Friends’ Cafe in the Health Sciences Library.
When asked what sets the Daily Grind apart from other coffee shops, barista Matthew Karkutt believed the “synergy” of the workers contributed to the open and friendly atmosphere, in addition to the employees’ exuberant personalities.“I set this place apart, not gonna lie,”Karkutt said.
“I’ve worked at other places on campus and the quality of coffee here is so much higher,” said another worker over the drone of her frothing pitcher. Matthew’s personal favorite brew is a dry cappuccino, although he recommends a classical mocha with a “perfect blend of sweet espresso” for the novice customer.
If you’ve never tried the Daily Grind, consider going for a superb $2 cup of coffee. But be prepared to leave with their exquisite salted caramel macaroons, a handful of chocolate covered espresso beans and dozens of other to-die-for confections. -Thompson Wall
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