Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville, South Carolina, is a fresh small to midsized city with some real tourist draw. Whether you’re coming to visit our extraordinary downtown, visiting for business, or considering making Greenville your new home, one thing is certain: you need great coffee.
And good news for you, great coffee is in abundant supply in our small city. We boast at least six local roasters — and those are just the ones I know off the top of my head! There’s more great local coffee in this city than I can fit in this guide, so without further comment, here are my top 5 picks for the best coffee shops in Greenville, SC.
Due South Coffee Roasters
Due South Coffee Roasters came into being in 2013 in the historic Taylors Mill. The mill is a large defunct mill in a neighboring textile town, and both the town and the mill have seen a rebirth this decade. Finding unexpected levels of success, Due South relocated operations to Hampton Station (yes, another reclaimed building — this time an abandoned cotton warehouse just outside downtown).
With the move to Hampton Station, Due South moved much closer to the action downtown and reduced the distance between it and most of its local corporate and restaurant clients. In its new location, the café offers local pastries and ice cream in addition to serious and seriously innovative coffee drinks.
Due South Coffee Roasters was one of the first (if not the first) third-wave coffee purveyors in the city (think single-origin coffees presented with tasting notes in the same world as wines). It was also, to my knowledge, the first third-wave roaster to open up shop. These people are serious about their craft.
At Due South, you’ll have your choice of several single-origin offerings (with tasting notes) brewed by the cup using the pour-over method. Seasonal beverages aren’t sugar-coated sweetness bombs. Instead, you’ll find lightly sweetened and highly adventurous works of art, sometimes featuring spices and botanicals. Cold brew, nitro, tea, proper espresso beverages, affogato (espresso with ice cream!) and even kombucha are on offer.
As a local roaster, Due South has plenty of freshly roasted coffee beans for purchase as well.
Pictured: Methodical’s downtown store at the base of the Bank of America Tower
Methodical Coffee is another local success story. The original downtown location opened in February 2015 in the Bank of America Tower to great fanfare: the line was out the door from open to close that first day. The buzz may have been in part due to coffee master Will Shurtz, who for several years prior had been making waves as the nomadic barista, making high-end custom-roasted coffee on the go and at corporate events.
In just five short years, Methodical has expanded to three locations: one inside The Landmark Project on Wade Hampton (next to Community Tap) and another inside the Commons, another — you can probably guess — reclaimed abandoned warehouse building. The Commons is also just outside downtown, this time just across from the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
Whichever location you visit, the experience is the same: unflinchingly high standards of coffee taken very seriously. Methodical is another third-wave joint. It, along with Due South, can be a little bit intimidating if your usual fare is Starbucks or Dunkin’. The shop certainly skews a little young and a lot trendy. But if you’re willing to be a little bit daring, you just might discover a new world of coffee you never knew existed.
The menu here is simple. The focus is definitely on the quality and origin of the beans and the brewing methods employed (including siphon!). Expect your pour-over, siphon or espresso beverage to be strong.
If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, the tres leches latte and the mocha are both lovely.
Pictured: Coffee Underground is, quite literally, underground. But don’t miss it!
If you’re not too sure about third-wave coffee, I get it. Sometimes all that seriousness is more than I’m looking for, too. Coffee Underground is decidedly second-wave in its approach (think “Seattle style” coffee with its roots in the 1990s). In fact, the dream began when owners Dana Lowie and Steve Taylor visited Seattle in 1991. They opened one of the first outlets of that variety in Greenville, starting as the Pony Espresso coffee cart in 1992 and evolving into Coffee Underground in 1995. Steve left a few years later, but Dana still runs the show, which has expanded to include a full food menu and an improv theatre space.
Coffee Underground is literally underground, occupying a basement space underneath Restaurante Bergamo on the corner of Main and Coffee. The food menu is expansive, and the coffee section has plenty of dessert-style lattes and espresso beverages.
Coffee Underground may remain firmly rooted in the second wave style, but the coffee is still quite respectable. Until 2005 they served West End Coffee Roasters beans (West End just missed the cut for this guide, as they are a roastery first with only a small prepared coffee presence). Since then, Coffee Underground has begun roasting their own coffee on site.
Coffee Underground has an additional sister location, Coffee on Stone. The menu there is more coffee and bakery focused, but the stores share the same DNA and ownership.
The Village Grind
The Village Grind is located in the Village of West Greenville, technically its own entity just outside Greenville’s city limits. Several years back, the downtown stretch of West Greenville became an artist destination thanks to its comparatively low average rent, and now the community is rapidly transforming.
The Village Grind is unique. It’s got a great, cozy vibe that’s a smidge more rustic and chic than the “rustic industrial chic” that’s become so popular. I’d probably call it a third-wave-ish shop. They take their coffee seriously, but in a way that’s somehow more laid back than the first two shops in this guide. Delicious coffee and non-coffee beverages and unique, character-filled pastries make up the menu here.
The Grind doesn’t even have a full website, yet they got the attention of The New York Times — quite an achievement, even by Greenville standards. It’s a great place to visit, but its limited hours make it hard to get to for the 9-to-5 crowd.
There’s more to Greenville than its downtown. Some locals can even be a bit downtown-averse. Thankfully, several new coffee shops have opened outside the downtown core in recent years. My favorite of these is Bridge City Coffee. This shop along the Wade Hampton Corridor is an excellent destination for many in the Overbrook and Stone Lake neighborhoods, as well as local university students and anyone heading into downtown from Taylors.
Bridge City is a roaster and café with impressively high standards and impressively low pretentiousness. The shop is decked in clean whites with a mix of vintage and modern furniture. Even better, Bridge City is mission-driven, helping “young adults transition well into the real world” in partnership with several local nonprofits.
The coffee is top-notch, and the tea is remarkable. Bridge City has the best herbal tea I’ve ever tasted, and nitro fans will enjoy their nitro hibiscus tea.
Plenty to Drink Throughout Town
Whatever your ideal coffee experience looks like, Greenville has something for you. Enjoy the sights of the city as well as its flavors, and we hope you come back soon