High Five Coffee Review in Asheville, NC
Local Business Reviews,  Wining & Dining

High Five Coffee Review: a Local Favorite

Work as a remote, flexible-schedule worker for long enough while parenting a toddler, and you’re simply going to have favorite coffee shops. While I think most of them want to be known for their flavorful drinks, tasty snacks, and soulful ambiance, many of us simply need somewhere that serves up caffeine while not kicking us out for tapping out a few emails while we sip. 

I have reviewed a few places in Asheville that don’t offer public Wi-Fi, and I can’t blame them at all – there is something really lovely about a space that is entirely focused on connection and food and drink. 

However, when I can find a coffee shop that gives off the vibes I need while also being a place where my laptop is tolerated, I bookmark that shop for a long time. High Five Coffee knows they’ve got a good combination; after all, they have reward cards that give you a treat for having bought a certain amount of drinks from them, making it seem like they must have folks who pick up their Storm or Cesspool of Cinnamon on the regular.

I like the compact location in downtown on Rankin Avenue mostly for its sheer convenience. So many of my journeys into downtown start with parking at the Rankin Avenue Garage, so it’s barely a block away to get some java for whatever brings me downtown. 

High Five Coffee Feature
All images courtesy of High Five Coffee

But I’m going to focus on two other locations of High Five, which offer many of the same key menu features but with two very different styles/utilities. In my humble opinion, my favorite co-working coffee shop and my favorite meet-up-with-a-friend coffee shop.

First, Broadway. Despite the fact that Broadway is not at the center of a shopping district, the Pioneer Building manages to feel very urban. This space, with its bright yellow doors and tall yellow-trimmed windows, is not large and feeds into the rest of the building, but every inch is well-used.

I’ve been in the space with 30 people before, and while it feels bustling, it doesn’t feel packed. The main bar and a few of the tables are serpentine and blob-like, all rounded edges, with the main bar adorned with the signature high-five hand and a star logo. 

Many of the tables are communal tables with four or six bar stools, and it’s clear that while people tend to give each other space, different parties will sit at them. There are also four two-person tables and a few outdoor tables where you can watch life pass by on Broadway. 

The menu has a variety of cute features: I’m charmed by how the various eats available include a section of add-ons called “Knuckle Bumps,” from adding cream cheese or almond butter to putting banana on top of, say, your granola and yogurt or your bagel. 

By serving simple sandwiches, a turkey and cheese, a hummus, and an egg and cheese biscuit, they make themselves technically a full-meal spot without having to support a gigantic menu. There’s a well-stocked bakery case where I’ve sampled many a blueberry buttermilk muffin and a seed-encrusted everything bagel. 

High Five Coffee has introduced me to trendy coffee drinks that I didn’t even know existed. They once had a special featuring blackberry syrup and espresso with tonic water, a combination of various bitternesses and sours that I didn’t think could possibly work, but I was curious. Sure enough, my black-coffee-drinking self loved it. This inspired my trust, and I’ve been trying their specialty drinks ever since.

Recently, I tried the Weather Report, which felt like a pretty standard latte when I read the ingredients: cream, espresso, cane sugar, and salt. However, the salt was a pretty big departure for me, and some amount of how they’d balanced the ratios made it one of the top lattes I’ve ever tried. They also make their drinks with Counter Culture Coffee from Durham, which is a strong move and I’ve loved their roasts for a while. 

A couple months ago, I got the chance to have a micro-date: a friend of mine needed to get out of the house with her toddler so her partner could get a nap in peace, and she offered to watch my kiddo and let the two have a play date while my husband and I got an hour or so out of the house. 

I wracked my brain for where to go in this moment of impromptu fun while of course texting her that this would be magnificent, and the High Five Coffee on Riverside Drive was my obvious answer. 

Fun Coffee Shops in Asheville NC High Five Coffee

Driving to the High Five Coffee on Riverside Drive is always an exercise in wondering if you’re trespassing. It’s located behind a huge historic building called The Mill at Riverside that has been split up into many spaces for different businesses. 

There’s a fabric warehouse, I know, and the parking lot for all of the Mountain Mobility fleet of transportation vans. Keep going, though, and you’ll find a surprising little oasis – a bit of green space with a covered shelter and the familiar name of High Five emblazoned on what appears to be a barn.

High Five’s barn-shaped coffee shop here is primarily outdoor seating, and why would you not sit outside? It’s six or seven feet from the French Broad River and equipped with cute garden spots, Adirondack chairs, and even tables under big sweeping trees where I literally saw someone doing a Zoom call – that’s a good office! 

Inside is mostly for ordering and crafting beverages though: the loft up top is for employees only, and the main portion of the downstairs is taken up by the open kitchen encased in a wood-paneled bar. There are five stools and a super-tiny table for two people, but it seems most people do take their items to-go and drink by the river. 

If you bring someone along with you who isn’t a coffee person, they have a huge range of options in the cold case, from kombucha and mate to seltzer, coconut water, milk, juice, and craft soda. There are also a few beers and ciders available. 

Go to Coffee Shops in Asheville NC High Five Coffee

My husband raved about a woodsy juniper latte he’d gotten the last time he’d been there but opted for a floral-aroma’d elderflower latte that was on special, and I went for their cold brew slushie, made with oat milk and sugar and (what else?) salt. 

Again, the salt is a strange choice but in the same way that salted caramel pops, so do these salted drinks. I don’t need salt on everything, but since my coffee order is 90% black drip coffee, it’s nice to try something new here and there. 

The space is, true to branding, minimal and beautiful: live edge wood art on the walls, lots of succulents adorning the windowsill, a community bulletin board full of announcements and business cards. 

I see in the merch section that they’ve done collaborations with Spicewalla, the local spice company, to create their own chai blend and golden milk spicing so that you can make something similar at home. 

When I take my slushie outside, though, is when I feel my shoulders relax: the dappled late-afternoon sunshine of Asheville’s pretty summer days is particularly picturesque with a beautiful river, draping shade trees, and a mountain vista all right in front of you. Living here frequently feels like I’m in a permanent painting, and this place is no exception. 

I will also put in a bid for this spot if you just need caffeine of any kind but have an active toddler. I discovered it during a protracted season when I was hanging out with my toddler most mornings because we hadn’t found childcare (a relatable issue in Asheville, but a nice perk was more time with my kid). 

The big field meant that my child could hang out and spend his time running in a big field, kicking a little soccer ball, making friends with other children who were also visiting the park, and (most popular) throwing rocks and sticks into the French Broad River. 

While I don’t particularly encourage two-year-olds to throw anything hard or heavy, if they are definitely going to throw something, finding a spot far from other coffee drinkers and throwing them into the river that, most likely, brought them here in the first place seems like the lowest damage form of throwing. He was thrilled!

High Five has hit upon a combination that I think works well in a lot of different contexts: all of their shops offer drinks, snacks, and a limited amount of meal-sized foods that can satisfy a number of palates and can be prepared quickly.

However, they also have their spaces for lingering, be it a long catch-up session with an old friend while sitting in the Broadway location, a zeroed-in hour of presentation prep on your laptop at the Rankin Avenue location, or leisurely slushy sips while you stare at the flowing French Broad and contemplate your life. 

The throughlines are thoughtfully crafted drinks and reliably delicious roasts in the drip coffee dispenser, and for that, I’ll always raise a mug. 

Have you been to one of High Five Coffee’s Asheville locations? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.


Laura finally got to move to Asheville in 2021 after a decade of visits and hangouts here. She loves the food, the coffee shops, and the riverfront in Asheville. Laura is always finding something new and wonderful to try.

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