Hope and Union: Pairing History with Progressive Coffee Program [CLOSED]

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Coffee Charleston

Hope and Union coffee has the power to lift a goat into the sky like a balloon.

In many ways, Charleston is a progressive food city, with some of the best chefs and restaurants in the Southeast, an emerging cocktail culture, and some respectable craft beer bars. What’s been missing during my 16 years of visiting the city has been a go-to specialty coffeehouse. That seems to have finally changed with the advent of Hope and Union, which John Vergel de Dios and Harper Poe opened in 2009 in Charleston’s Elliotborough neighborhood, with a name that references cross streets in the couple’s former Brooklyn neighborhood.

History Award Charleston

Charleston dates to 1670, and the city celebrates history in many forms. The Preservation Society of Charleston awards Cariolopolis medallions to building owners who preserve their property’s historic architectural integrity.

John Vergel de Dios and Harper Poe got pinned for their work in restoring a building that dates to the 1800s.

The coffee bar resides downstairs, at the back of the building, in a room with concrete flooring, and a back bar with reclaimed wood beams the owners painted white. Out front, the coffeehouse has a subdued, library-like vibe, with two-tops, communal tables and wood floors.

Historic Building Charleston

Upstairs, an airy room emanates in two directions from a well worn fireplace, with wood crossbeams overhead.

Bottles Charleston

Hope and Union touts plenty of old-time touches, including shelves of glass milk bottles.

Lighting Charleston

Decorative red lanterns hung from the wall. Luckily, they didn’t provide the room’s only light.

Coffee Charleston

Hope and Union hosts all of the requisite toys necessary for brewing premium coffee, including a two-group La Marzocco espresso machine, a four cup pourover bar with Hario V60s and copper piping.

They carry Intelligentsia coffee, which was familiar, since that’s my neighborhood coffeehouse in L.A., but still a welcome sight (and sip). They grind and brew all beans to order, as they should.

Coffee Charleston

On my first visit, a barista on a holiday skeleton crew effectively pulled a double shot of Intelligentsia black cat Espresso ($2.80) for me that displayed sweetness and bright acidity.

They offered three different single origin coffees via 12 or 16 ounce pourover, with each option costing either $3.55 or $3.80.

Coffee Charleston

During my visits, the pourover selection consisted of Anjilanaka, Bolivia; Mexico, La Perla de Oaxaca; and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe.

Coffee Charleston

My cappuccino (6 oz.) on day two was spot on, with the Black Cat coming through an appropriate amount of whole milk to deliver an instantly drinkable cup that was just the right temperature. The barista even added some attractive art, which is by no means imperative, but certainly didn’t hurt perception.

Hope and Union was short on hours, since the College of Charleston was on break for the holidays, and their primary clientele was on vacation, but they didn’t skimp on effort, attention to detail, or flavorful coffee, which are all factors that will keep me coming back to St Philip Street.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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