How can something so good get overlooked? Nestled in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, a vibrant and eclectic city, is renowned for its art, music, craft breweries, beautiful mountain scenery, and outdoor adventures. Like the mountain fog, these excellent offerings have hidden the city’s coffee culture. Do yourself a favor and visit these fantastic Asheville coffee shops between your adventures. Beyond a delicious cup of joe, you get an energy jolt to kickstart your day so you can explore all Asheville offers.
High Five Coffee
- Flagship location: 190 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC 28801
- Downtown location: 13 Rankin Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801
- French Broad River location: 2000 Riverside Drive, Asheville, NC 28804
- Hours: The Broadway and Rankin shops are open daily from 7 am to 6 pm; the Riverside shop is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm
Julie and I happily try eateries, coffee shops, and outdoor adventures when visiting a town. We occasionally take our chances but often prefer to chat with locals for expert recommendations.
One particular endorsement for High Five Coffee was so strong that we could not ignore it. He insisted High Five is the best coffee shop in town and refuses to go elsewhere because it would be a step-down.
Admittedly, we went with skepticism. I chuckled to myself upon seeing the hand emblem in the storefront window. We opened the door, and heavenly coffee aromas drifted across the room. Perhaps the stranger is wise.
A Mistake Leads to Striking Gold
I quickly skimmed the menu and spotted a few exciting latte flavor combinations. My curiosity was piqued. I ordered one of their specialty beverages called “The Storm.”
After one sip, I felt a kick. I missed that the drink included cayenne. Continuing to sip the delicious concoction, I determined it was one of the best lattes I had ever tasted.
The barista was cordial and chuckled when I told her I had overlooked the spicy ingredient. Then she told me the drink was previously called “El Diablo,” but they recently changed it. She then admitted it was her favorite.
High Five did not disappoint. The shop conducts in-house training and additional training with its partner, Counter Culture Coffee, to ensure customers receive exquisite coffee. Their effort shows in both the delicious coffee and friendly service.
You will find a nice variety of options from which to choose, including outstanding specialty beverages. They carry local baked goods, including a morning glory muffin that is gluten-free and vegan-friendly. If you want something other than a muffin or pastry, the shop serves several tasty breakfast and lunch items to pair with your coffee. Although the food is good, the coffee is the star here, shining brightly.
Old Europe Pastries
- Location: 18 Broad Street, Asheville, NC 28801
- Hours: Monday – Thursday, 7 am to 10 pm; Friday – Sunday, 7 am to 11 pm
If you love pairing your cup of brew with something sweet, head to Old Europe Pastries. We received many enthusiastic local endorsements for Asheville’s longest-running cafe. Many boldly proclaimed they had the best desserts in town and excellent coffee. That is all we needed to hear.
It’s almost as if they intentionally pipe the scents of coffee and confectionary goodness onto the sidewalk to lure people in. The strategy works. To put your mind at ease, it is not all for show. Their pastries are divine.
The bakery case flaunts heavenly desserts, including delectable cake slices, cookies, macarons, tiramisu, eclair, hazelnut napoleon, key lime pie, vanilla cheesecake, and more. Your hardest decision will be what to order. Julie and I sampled a few items and can confirm each put us in sheer bliss.
Old Europe offers various options, including drip coffee, a full array of espresso drinks, and cold brew. Despite the excellent desserts, they earned their place on our list for tasty coffee sourced from Dynamite Roasting Company in neighboring Black Mountain, North Carolina. If you only seek a cup of joe, you will walk away happy. Have a dessert with your coffee, and you will float on a cloud.
- Location: 346 Depot St, Asheville, NC 28801
- Hours: Open Monday – Saturday, 8 am to 6 pm
A bright red building in the vibrant River Arts District, Grind AVL is about more than just coffee. Asheville’s first Black-owned coffee shop and co-working space is about community and events. They view coffee as something that unifies us, a concept I appreciate. Their objective is to support and grow businesses to build Black Wall Street.
Grind AVL provides organic, high-quality coffee products and partners with local dairies and bakeries to ensure fresh goods. Their coffee menu appears simple, but they cover everything from drip, iced, and cold brew coffee to lattes, Americanos, and several types of tea. Grind AVL’s flavor shots include vanilla, caramel, mocha, cinnamon, brown sugar, hazelnut, and toasted marshmallow. They typically serve seasonal drinks as well. So, they have you well covered for delicious beverages.
While the shop has a spacious indoor cafe with free Wifi and many outlets, the outdoor patio welcomes you on warm, sunny days. You can enjoy sweet or savory items for breakfast, lunch, or a snack, regardless of where you sit.
If you need space for a business meeting, small party, or mixer, check them out. They offer a coffee break package and room to seat up to 49 people comfortably.
Pollen Coffee & Flower Shop
- Location: 45 S French Broad Avenue, Suite 150, Asheville, NC 28801
- Hours: Open daily from 8 am to 4 pm
If you seek a different experience, visit Pollen Coffee & Flower Shop. Some of the competition recommended the unique establishment. It was the first I had heard of a combination coffee and flower shop. Naturally, we were curious. So we checked them out.
You can sense a different vibe when you enter the store. The wall behind the counter features a few flowers, and a small table off to the side contains lovely flower arrangements in vases. You will discover a few other plants and a refrigerator unit housing flowers. However, the flowers do not dominate the space. You can tell it is a coffee shop.
Pollen is a multi-roaster cafe that covers all the basic coffee drinks. They carry locally baked goods, rotating their offerings seasonally. Pollen boasts a healthy selection of vegan-friendly and gluten-free menu options. Their drink menu changes daily, often featuring flavor profiles infused with flowers, spices, or fruits.
Pollen creates unique flower arrangements that you typically will not find elsewhere. They aspire to make sending and receiving flowers a fun experience. Their quest for self-expression shines through in the tasty coffee, fresh food, beautiful flowers, and the shop’s art and music.
- Location: 242 Clingman Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801
- Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 8 am to 3 pm; Friday – Saturday, 8 am to 3:30 pm
Nestled in the heart of the River Arts District, Ultra Coffeebar is a specialty coffee shop, a local favorite. They serve organic coffee roasted by Counter Coffee Culture in Durham, North Carolina, that pairs perfectly with their excellent food.
Ultra has an extensive coffee and espresso bar with hot and cold drinks. They shine brightest with their nitro cold brew, a velvety smooth drink with a rich, foamy head. Ultra makes flavor shots in-house, including vanilla, caramel, chocolate, lavender honey, and rotating seasonal flavors. They also serve a fantastic dirty chai latte.
Beyond the fantastic coffee, you have many food options, all of which are delicious. Breakfast items include bagels, English muffins, wraps, paninis, and house-made baked goods like muffins, bars, cookies, pies, and protein balls. They carry many daily and seasonal rotating items.
Lunch selections include a healthy wrap and various pressed ciabatta sandwiches. Ultra proudly offers vegan and gluten-free items, including tofu eggs, buffalo tempeh, gluten-free bread, and vegan-friendly baked goods. With this level of excellence, Ultra has earned the right to use its name.
- Location: 221 West State Street, Black Mountain, NC 28711
- Hours: Open daily from 6:45 am to 6 pm
A quick 20-minute drive from Asheville, Dripolator sits in the quaint, historic downtown area of beautiful Black Mountain. The coffeehouse serves hot coffee, espresso drinks, mouth-watering homemade pastries, fresh fruit smoothies, and coffee frappes. They offer free
WiFi and outdoor seating. With a cozy atmosphere, it feels like home.
Black Mountain itself is a beautiful area, worth the drive. Many Asheville residents willingly make the trip to “The Drip.” The coffee is consistently good, and the food is outstanding. Customers rave about the pound cake and pumpkin blueberry muffins. They offer gluten-free selections too.
Dripolator is known for its creative seasonal beverages. If you visit during the winter holiday, they offer unique drinks, including the immunity mocha, lump-o-coal latte, and the log cabin latte.
Summit Coffee Company
- Downtown location: 1 Page Avenue, Suite 148, Asheville, NC 28801
- Hours: Monday – Friday, 7 am to 5 pm; Saturday – Sunday, 8 am to 5 pm
- River Arts District location: 4 Foundry Street, Suite 20, Asheville, NC 28801
- Hours: Monday – Wednesday, 7 am to 5 pm; Thursday – Friday, 7 am to 6 pm; Saturday, 8 am to 6 pm; Sunday, 8 am to 5 pm
Summit Coffee has two Asheville locations, one downtown and the other in the River Arts District. We visited the River Arts District location. Representative of the area, part of the building showcases a colorful mural. Inside, it is cozy, spacious, and inviting.
The Asheville coffee shop sources its beans directly from various areas around the globe but roasts everything locally in small batches. They pour drip coffee, lattes, espresso, cortados, cappuccinos, espresso sodas, mochas, matcha, and chai lattes.
Summit offers interesting spring seasonal beverages, including strawberries and cream, lavender haze, fruit-loop latte, blueberry coffee soda with thyme, and a kid-friendly unicorn soda. Typically, I prefer hot coffee. However, I tried the strawberries and cream iced coffee and found it tasty and refreshing.
They offer various food items, including vegan and gluten-free options. We saw vegan energy bars, vegan strawberry and lavender pop tarts, and gluten-free selections like morning glory muffins and chocolate chip cookies. I ate a morning glory muffin and was pleased with its freshness and ample supply of fruits and nuts.
Green Sage Cafe
- Downtown location: 5 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC 28801
- Merrimon location: 633 Merrimon Avenue, Suite A, Asheville, NC 28804
- South Asheville location: 1800 Hendersonville Road, Asheville, NC 28803
- Hours: Open daily from 8 am to 4 pm
As the name implies, Green Sage Cafe makes great efforts to serve healthy, organic, sustainable dishes. Accordingly, it is one of Asheville’s greenest cafes. You should find ample space to enjoy delicious food and coffee from their broad menu, regardless of location.
The cafe offers an array of organic farm-to-cup coffee and espresso drinks, whole-leaf teas, whole-fruit smoothies, house-made juices, and scratch-made pastries. They serve breakfast and lunch all day. Many vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-sensitive options are on the menu. For those with kids, Green Sage Cafe has a kid-friendly menu as well.
PennyCup Coffee Company
- Downtown on “The Block” location: 39 S Market Street, Asheville, NC 28801
- River Arts District location: 362 Depot Street, Asheville, NC 28801
- North Asheville location: 857 Merrimon Avenue, Asheville, NC 28804
- Haw Creek / East Asheville location: 6 Beverly Road, Asheville, NC 28805
- Hours: Vary by location
The name of PennyCup repeatedly came up in discussion when we inquired about the best coffee shops in Asheville. PennyCup Coffee Co has various locations throughout the city, becoming a staple for tourists and locals seeking a great cup of coffee. The small-batch roaster offers single-origin roasts, custom blends, espresso, and specialty coffees.
PennyCup carries syrups of lavender, honey, mocha, vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, and peppermint for those who like a splash of flavor.
The cafe has an impressive assortment of vegan options, including berry bars, chipotle cheddar biscuits, and chocolate croissants. Pennycup carries scrumptious lemon berry muffins, spicy mocha cookies, and gluten-free banana bread.
Julie ordered banana bread, and I had a hazelnut latte and a lemon berry muffin. The hazelnut finished smooth and creamy, blending perfectly with the espresso. Both baked goods were fresh and tasty, bursting with flavor.
Double D’s Coffee & Desserts
- Location: 4 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801
- Hours: Vary by season
While walking through the heart of downtown Asheville, we stumbled across a shiny red, double-decker bus that serves coffee, tea, espresso drinks, smoothies, and milkshakes. Food items include muffins, cookies, bars, and brownies.
Double D’s Coffee & Desserts has become a city landmark. You can savor your cup inside the bus or in the surrounding courtyard. Although it may be touristy, it is an iconic coffee experience. If you are traveling with kids, it is the perfect place for everyone to have a treat.
Wrap-Up: Top Asheville Coffee Shops
Chock-full of attractions, Asheville is a must-visit city along the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. Before heading out on your daily adventures, kickstart your day at one of the top Asheville coffee shops. With java this delicious, you and the coffee shops will emerge from the mountain fog.
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About the author
We are Scott and Julie at Miles with McConkey. After nearly 30 years, we took a leap of faith out of the corporate world to enjoy a life of travel and adventure. We hope to inspire you to find ways to travel more and enjoy life now.