It’s every college kid’s favorite drug. Without it, you couldn’t possibly withstand Professor Pinkass’ lecture on the endocrine system or a night of cubicle confinement in the library. You may not even be able to get out of bed. And it’s the best way to get a solid pick-me-up before a rowdy night of debauchery. It’s coffee. And thank God it’s legal.

With sidewalks seething with sleep-deprived students and your fair share of businesspeople on the go, Charleston has a whole handful of charming little joints where you can get a cup o’ joe. Whether you’re the cream and sugar type, take it straight up black, or dress it like dessert with whipped cream and chocolate syrup, we’ve got your coffee fix covered.

Kudu Coffee House
4 Vanderhorst St. Downtown.

(843) 853-7186.

If exotic is your thing, Kudu will be too. With the atmospheric vibes of a safari tent, the beat of goat hide drums and other world-music sounds, and a giant stuffed kudu head (kind of like an antelope) hanging on the wall to watch you sip your mug, Kudu Coffee House is truly “an African experience.” With a selection of the finest quality African coffees, open mics most Thursdays, one of the best courtyards in town, and occasional live music, Kudu is like a community watering hole for “kahawa” drinkers (that’s Swahili for coffee, in case you didn’t know).

» Free Wi-Fi

» Happy hour with discounted beer and wine (Thurs.-Sat., 4-7 p.m.)

City Lights
141 Market St. Downtown.

(843) 853-7067

The atmosphere is so utterly quaint and full of dollhouse charm, one would never guess that the building’s original use was a brothel, but the people at City Lights continue to please their customers day after day (with delicious coffee, of course). The bead-board walls, embossed tin ceiling, and marble-topped bar actually echo closer to a Roaring Twenties speakeasy, and they aptly hold a half-price happy hour during the week. (Sorry, no bootleg liquor.) They host a bluesy “ragtime novelty” band, The Amazing Mittens, every Wednesday from 6:30-8 p.m., which perfectly complements the folk art portraits of blues artists on the walls. This java joint’s also got a coffee milkshake that’s so good you’ll want to do the jitterbug.

» Free Wi-Fi

» Happy hour with half price beer and wine(Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.)

» “Band T-Shirt Day;” wear a band T-shirt the 15th of every month and get 10 percent off.

East Bay Meeting House
159 East Bay St. Downtown.

(843) 723-3446.

Located in Charleston’s French Quarter, East Bay Meeting House serves up their coffee with European flair. With an elegant interior scattered with café tables and a full lunch menu serving up sandwiches, soups, and salads, this is the perfect place for a little tête-à-tête. Stay long enough and you can enjoy the fully-stocked bar in the back, fixed up with fancy leather couches and live music on Fridays and Saturdays.

» Happy hour with discounted beer and wine, $2.50 house liquors (Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.)

» Blues and poetry open mic (Mon. nights)

827 Folly Road. James Island.

(843) 225-7574.

Kronic’s ambiance is as cozy as your grandma’s living room, but the coffee is anything but the old lady’s cup of Folger’s. Kronic does it fresh, fair-trade, and organic, serving you gourmet coffee, loose-leaf teas, and one killer lunch menu (this ain’t grandma’s meatloaf neither). They even have a full range of vegetarian options, including their very own falafel. If the weather’s nice, enjoy your mug on the front porch. They also serve desserts daily that might even beat out grandma’s baking. Sorry, Nana.

» Free Wi-Fi

» Live music on Sat.


354 W. Coleman Blvd. Mt. Pleasant.

(843) 216-8832

A Mt. Pleasant fixture, Metto’s convenient drive-thru window happily fuels busy coffee-drinkers’ daily commutes down 17-N (Their dark roast is even called the Old Village Blend). If you have the time to stay, lounge out on the deck beneath a big oak or try a mozzarella pesto panini that’s worth walking the Ravenel Bridge for. The guys at Metto love coffee so much they’ve even made it into an art form, shaping latte foam into leaves and hearts.

» Free Wi-Fi

Muddy Waters
1739 Maybank Hwy. James Island.

(843) 795-0848; 1331 Ashley River Road. West Ashley. (843) 225-3683.

With locations in James Island and West Ashley, it’s clear the people love Muddy Waters. They even came in fifth on “the top five rated cafes” by While their coffee may come from all over the world (they proudly serve Counter Culture Coffee — high quality coffees from Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacifics), they also serve pastries from Normandy Farms and cookies from Sublime Pies and Cakes, and their walls are scattered with lots of local art. After one visit you’ll realize this place is as soulful as the man they named it after.

» Palmetto Acoustic Series (live music by various artists every other Thurs.)

» Coffee cuppings (coffee tasting, times TBA)

» Free Wi-Fi

11 Magnolia Road. West Ashley.

(843) 637-3555

Coffee was once called “the magic bean,” and Alchemy Coffee has proven the name true. Located in the hip little West Ashley haven of Avondale, Alchemy serves up coffee, baked goods, and made-from-scratch sandwiches. Settle down and regain your peace of mind after a wild weekend with their brunch and open mic on Sunday mornings or join them the first Friday of each month for an art show.

» Free Wi-Fi

If you still support “the man,” there are four Starbucks in a one mile radius downtown — two on Calhoun, one on King, and yet another on the corner of King and Calhoun.

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