What is it about the most perfect cup of joe that somehow gets us out of bed in the morning and right to the neighborhood coffee shop? Is it the coziness of the atmosphere, the craftsmanship of a latte, or just a place to recharge with a friend? We know the best spots have the ambience, staff who actually care, and, of course, delectable coffee that makes you choose them over flipping on your Keurig.
Finding the best coffee shop is an art — it requires time and patience. Luckily for you, Baltimore, we’ve done all that hard work. This next cup has got your name on it.
Ceremony Coffee Roasters
Make this stop a morning ritual. Ceremony Coffee is an experience inspired by Ethiopian culture (coffee is poured to guests in a ceremonial fashion). The baristas take hospitality to a new level — they’ll bring your coffee to your table and bus it as well (now that’s service)! Based in Annapolis and expanded to Mt. Vernon and Harbor Point, there’s no doubt their coffee is in high demand. Experience a pour-over by the cup or an espresso served in a rocks glass (pinkies up, folks) and feel that caffeine flood your bloodstream.
Order and Chaos Coffee
Order and Chaos is where coffee and advertising become one. Occupying ad agency Planit on the outskirts of Federal Hill, they claim a “creative cup of coffee.” Completely designed by the agency as a way to find order within the chaotic workday, Planit personnel are able to grab a free cup of coffee on their way into the office. Members of the public can glimpse through the high glass walls for a sneak peek behind the advertising scene (almost like an episode of Mad Men) while they sip their caffeine. Need a quick bite to eat? Grab a “walking waffle” — house-made, ready to go, and sure to be in your belly after a few steps out the door.
Artifact, meaning an object that is of human craft and cultural significance, is an incredibly appropriate name for this java joint. Artifact Coffee, tucked away in Hampden’s Union Mill, is a rustic coffee shop within a restored factory building. Really, “hip” doesn’t even begin to describe this spot — they’re coffee experts, offering anything from honey lavender lattes to “spike-i-attos” (that’s some strong stuff) and an inspiring breakfast menu. Fitt Tip: plan your arrival accordingly; you may have to fight off someone for a seat during peak hours.
Cunningham’s Cafe and Bakery
A cafe with a happy hour — sign us up! If the charm of the decor and lighting at Cunningham’s doesn’t instantly draw you in, we are sure their drinks will! Enjoy a morning mimosa (we don’t judge), Nutella Latte, or let some Walking Dead into your life. No zombies here, though, just a cold brew coffee with an extra shot or two of espresso for the early-morning struggle. Looking for a bite to eat too? They have a full menu of breakfast dishes and lunch salads, soups, and sammies. Bonus: there’s a happy hour from 3–5pm for alcoholic beverages and select caffeinated brews.
3 Bean Coffee
Coffee, cacao, and vanilla — the three beans within the products at this caffeine compound. Nestled just below the rise of Federal Hill, this cozy spot offers a variety of fun drinks. Try a Honey Graham Latte, nitro on tap, or, if you’re in the mood for a non-coffee beverage, a matcha latte. And how could we forget their ice cream selection from local farms? Add a scoop to your coffee after an incline run up the dreaded Federal Hill; you’ve earned it.
The Daily Grind
While the Fells Point waterfront is full of bars and restaurants, sometimes all you need is an energizing cup of coffee (especially after all that Friday night fun). The Daily Grind, self-proclaimed “funky coffee shop”, is a hipster’s paradise, bustling with life at all hours of the day. The breakfast wraps, a generous pastry display, and grab-and-go housemade granola bars are bomb. Plus, the atrium in the back of the shop is filled with light and greenery, with comfortable seating both inside and out, making it a friendly space to work or just zone out waiting for that caffeine to kick in. Bonus: bring your dog! They have a “doggie door” open for those who need a quick Scooby Snack for the pup and a cup of joe for the walk.
This hole-in-the-wall cafe in historic Fells Point is often overlooked. It’s a fact: with Cafe Latte’da, once passersby give it a try, it becomes a part of their daily walk to work in the morning. They offer the savory Zeke’s Oriole Blend Coffee and vegan breakfast wraps, but what really drew us in were the coffee ice cubes — a guarantee that your coffee will not be watered-down during the hot summer walks. We can’t deny that is sheer genius! Also, check out a cup of Cafe Latte’da joe Sundays at the Baltimore City Farmers Market.
Before you make any assumptions of this cafe, Dooby’s is named after the owner — a nickname he received growing up. This relaxed coffeehouse is smack-dab in the middle of Charles Street, a competitive spot for any cafe to open. Fortunately, Dooby’s Korean-inspired treats make it stand-out among the rest, serving the likes of Orange Blossom Mochas and unique, Miso Caramel Lattes. You heard us right — a latte made with miso paste and milk! Enjoy a Matcha Green Tea White Chocolate Cookie while you sit at the open windows perfect for people-watching.
Peace & A Cup of Joe
This coffeehouse in West Baltimore has strong and flavorful coffee, house-made bagels, and an atmosphere that makes it a home away from home — local art on the walls, live music, and a quiet, comfortable upstairs area. And calling all students! There are plenty of outlets for you to post up and get work done, and the couches upstairs are perfect for napping when you need a break from studying. And the scholarly perks keep coming: students receive a discount.
The Bun Shop
A hidden gem, The Bun Shop is snug in Mt. Vernon. Imagine the Great Hall in Harry Potter with its long bench seating and dim lighting, but instead of the flickers of candles, it’s the glow of laptop screens. This coffeehouse is a student favorite due to its late hours, open until 3am — the perfect time for late-night studying or a weekend night in with their never-ending supply of board games. Fitt Tip: their specialty, buns (ranging from sweet and savory), pair superbly with their Vietnamese Iced Coffee.
Nestled in Reservoir Hill, Dovecote Cafe is a friendly hub for the community to sit, stay, and gather. An oasis of natural lighting, local art (including the old-fashioned wallpaper), and they even have a mini produce section. Sink your sweet tooth into their infamous banana bread or cozy up with a steaming cup of organic coffee.
Who says you can’t have your gelato and drink your coffee too? This small waterfront bakery in Fells Point is sister to the best gelato in town, so you know their coffee menu is pretty sweet. Sit on their outdoor patio and listen to the seagulls or watch the Urban Pirates come in and out of the port while you indulge in your Sipping Chocolate. Oh, it’s just a steaming hot chocolate made with the same chocolate, milk, and sugar they use for their decadent chocolate gelato.
Take a coffee break at one of the six locations of Atwater’s. Known for the support of local farms, art, and culture, the popularity of Atwater’s can’t be denied. A steaming hot London Fog Latte on a cold day—or even a hot one—is exactly what you need to add to the luxe atmosphere.
A go-to coffee spot with a funky vibe, you should stop into Common Ground if you find yourself strolling down the Avenue of Hampden. They have super-fresh coffee and a staff with service expertise as well as latte artistry (keep your Instagram feed strong). But if you’re feeling frisky, don’t miss out on their Dirty Chai Latte.
Red Emma’s is a community space within a bookstore (a bookstore that is doubling in size with its move/reopening in Mt. Vernon). So, naturally, you’re in the best place to sit down with a book and sip on a cold brew. The shop in Baltimore offers a superb book selection and cozy space in the bustling city area. Though, if you aren’t in the mood to sit down and enjoy the fantasy world within a book, play a game of checkers or mancala while you drink your coffee and down one of their many delicious food options, all vegetarian-friendly.
Bird in Hand Coffee
Bird in Hand’s cafe-bookshop in Charles Village is the result of an epic collab between Artifact Coffee and The Ivy Bookshop. Visit their shop to catch up with friends over a fresh roast or to sip and savor your cup of joe over a new book from their collection. On the menu, ingredients are acquired as local as it gets — all of their bread and pastries are baked at Woodberry Kitchen and all meats are from Parts & Labor.
How you doin’? Need a caffeine kick that will have you quoting Friends? Patterson Perk, a clever name spin-off from the Central Perk cafe, is Canton’s quick-stop coffee shop to pick up a morning cup. And a small bite to eat with it. Their coffee is organic and locally sourced, and their pastries are handmade right in Baltimore. Stop on in and introduce yourself — their crew makes a special effort to get to know their regulars.
Zeke’s Coffee roasts their coffee in small batches — 10–30lb.-batches as opposed to the 150lb. industry standard. In other words, Zeke’s clean and distinctly flavored brews are some of the freshest around Baltimore — just ask hot spots that Zeke’s supplies like Common Ground and Caffe Latte’da. The Northwest Bmore shop is also super active, hosting regular events like pizza nights and pancake breakfasts. You can also catch a cup of Zeke’s joe at the Fells Point Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Here’s another hip coffee shop in—you guessed it—Hampden. Spro Coffee has explored coffee in a deeper way, working with roasters from across the country and pairing those coffees with a range of brewing methods that they felt best complimented their flavors. Their shop offers a relaxed, informal atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating, soo kick back and savor all those fresh flavors.
**Updated by Alison Sallitt, September 2018