Five years ago Jubala Coffee introduced Raleigh’s northern suburbs to specialty coffee. Thanks to a thoughtful array of hand-brewed single origin coffees, lattes flavored with house-made syrups, and southern-style biscuits, Jubala earned a loyal clientele that otherwise would be unfamiliar with third-wave coffee. The shop even draws a steady flow of urbanites willing to make the trek to the ‘burbs for a proper shot of espresso. With such a dedicated following perhaps it was inevitable that Jubala would expand to a second location. But rather than setting up shop in another upscale shopping center, Jubala took an opportunity to help revitalize Hillsborough St., the long-neglected thoroughfare that runs along NC State’s campus. Instead of duplicating their proven formula, owner Andrew Cash has chosen to blaze new trails once again.
Jubala Hillsborough shares many of the same features one can expect from a contemporary café: a minimalist menu, customized espresso machines, shared communal tables. But on second look one notices careful details that reveal lessons learned in the trenches. Similar to the fast bar/slow bar concept utilizes by several Bay-area coffee shops, Jubala Hillsborough’s features a twin bar with two point-of-sales in between. One side is designated for carry-out while the other side is to stay. Each side is equipped accordingly.
The to-go bar features a three-group Linea PB and autodrip, while the dine-in side uses a Strada EE and ads a pour-over. According to Cash the motivation is not to withhold anything from the customer- they’re willing to break protocol if needed- rather, they want to give the customer what they want. The busy professor who is late for class can get in and out, while the budding coffee enthusiast can snag a seat by the pour-over bar and chat with a barista. Jubala wants to please everyone, and they do it better than most.
Like the original location, Jubala Hillsborough features Durham-roasted Counter Culture Coffee. We were fortunate enough to visit on Free Espresso Friday, a promotion started by Cash to inspire cautious newcomers to try something new. When we visited the espresso was from Finca el Puente, Honduras- a sweet shot with juicy red grape notes. We also enjoyed a pour-over of an heirloom Ethiopia, Yirgacheffe from famed producer Olke Bire. We’ve enjoyed this coffee for three years running now, and like previous crops it was incredibly floral with strong aromas of jasmine and juicy notes of peach and bergamot. It’s hard to find a better Ethiopian coffee, let alone a café serving better pour-overs.
When it comes to collegiate sports, NC State is often eclipsed by neighbors Duke and UNC. As far as campus coffee goes, the Wolfpack is in elite company. With their new café, Jubala further cements their reputation not only as one of the best cafés in the region, but as a cutting-edge shop in their own right. Thanks to a top notch food program and coffee to match it, Jubala Hillsborough is a culinary destination not to be missed.