I love coffee and buying local so it should come as no surprise that I was excited to hear that a new neighborhood coffee shop serving locally roasted Counter Culture Coffee was opening in North Raleigh. Sola Coffee & Café opened its doors a little over four weeks ago and I have been by several times to check it out and try different items from their food and drink menu and think Sola is a fantastic addition to the growing Triangle coffee scene.
Sola breathes new life into a re-purposed building that use to be a small bank branch in the Greystone Village on Lead Mine Road (Google map). The interior has been completely transformed into a community oriented space that provides an inviting environment with earth tone colored walls decorated with artwork, and warm and natural lighting. The cafe has ample indoor & outdoor seating perfect for individuals or larger groups. The exterior of the building has a unique look with large river stone masonry along the main entrance wall, while the focal point of the interior is the rustic looking coffee bar built with reclaimed wood from a 107 year old barn.
The open atmosphere of Sola makes it a great space to relax or hangout to do work while enjoying your coffee or a bite to eat. I particularly enjoy the natural light that pours into the space from the numerous floor to ceiling windows. I also appreciate the multiple electrical outlets strategically placed in the seating areas and the free WiFi making it easy to use a laptop. The seating options range from stools at the coffee bar and cozy booths to both small & large tables for groups. They even have a nice red couch and comfy chairs by the corner a windows if you are looking for a good spot to spread out and relax with your coffee.
Speaking of coffee, Sola serves coffee made from some of the best coffee beans around. They serve locally roasted coffee from Counter Culture Coffee out of Durham and use milk from Homeland Creamery in Julian, NC. They offer coffee by both drip and the pour-over method and feature a full range of espresso and signature drinks and teas. In addition to hot beverages they also serve fruit smoothies and absolutely delicious specialty shake called the “Sola Shake” which is made with espresso and ice cream.
So far I have enjoyed several great cappuccinos and iced lattes at Sola. On my most recent visit it was quite hot out so I had the Sola shake and my wife had a strawberry smoothie. Both of these cool treats were excellent and really hit the spot on such a warm day. The baristas at Sola are very friendly and knowledgeable about the drinks they make and the counter is always well staffed keeping things running smoothly.
With regard to the food, if you stop in for breakfast they have everything from breakfast sandwiches to croissants, bagels (from Raleigh’s own New York Bagel), and muffins. Their “soon to be famous” cinnamon mini donuts are my favorite and are available all day and made to order in house. You can get an order by the 1/2 dozen, baker’s dozen, or double dozen. They are served on a small metal tray lined with a paper coffee filter which is a neat idea presentation wise.
Sola also offers various sandwiches and salads that use many locally sourced ingredients. My wife and I recently stopped in on a Friday night for a late dinner and tried a sandwich salad combo together. We started by sharing the Mixed Greens salad with fresh mixed greens, cherry tomato, garbanzo beans, almonds, red onion, cucumbers, parmesan cheese. The dressing homemade from a secret recipe and is amazing! In addition to the salad we had they also offer a Southwest salad and a Spinach Strawberry salad that was just added to the menu.
We also ordered the Southwestern Chicken sandwich made with Boar’s Head oven roasted chicken stacked between locally baked bread from the Great Harvest Bread Co. in Raleigh. The sandwich was topped with a generous helping of mixed greens, tomato, red onion, pepper jack, avocado and salsa sour cream spread and served with a side of tortilla chips and homemade salsa. You also have the option to get a side of arugula salad. Additional sandwiches on the menu are the Sola Turkey, Roast Beef, Sola Veggie, Tuna Salad, Chicken Salad, and the recently added Pimento Cheese sandwich.
Another unique aspect about Sola is that the building has a drive-through window (from its previous use as a bank) and will be in operation later next month to offer service to customers on the go. Also, in keeping with the re-use theme, the baristas at Sola bag up the used coffee grounds daily and neatly stack the bags by the entrance where customers can grab a bag for free to add to their gardens or compost piles at home.
On our last visit, my wife and I took advantage of the outdoor seating and enjoyed the nice weather as we sipped our drinks. As we watched the customers come and go stop and greet each other we got a real sense of the strong community vibe of Sola and could tell it has already become a welcome member of the neighborhood. Sola is a great addition to the Triangle coffee culture and I highly recommend you check them out whether it be for a quick cup of coffee or a great bite to eat. I know we are already looking forward to our next visit!
To view more pictures from my visit to Sola please check out my Sola photo album on flickr. To learn more about Sola and to view their food and drink menus visit their website and facebook page and follow them on twitter at @SolaCoffee
Sola Coffee & Cafe
7705 Lead Mine Road, Raleigh, NC 27815 (Google Map)