Cars and Coffee: Best Informal Meet Ups Ever

What do you call a gathering of automotive enthusiasts that meets early on a Saturday morning to show off their rides? Well, if they’re drinking coffee while on site, there is a very good chance that you stumbled upon a Cars and Coffee event.

Cars and Coffee Contacts

Calling Cars Coffee an “event” bothers some people who consider these meet ups an informal gathering. For these participants, putting an “official” stamp on them seems to take away the very democratic nature of the function which says, “you bring your car and I’ll bring my car.”

Such gatherings are held across the country and a number of organizers have set up Facebook pages and websites to tell people about their local shows.

My first visit to a Cars and Coffee event was in Nov. 2013, when I stumbled upon one in Cary, NC, not far from my home.

That meet up was held at the upscale Waverly Place shopping center until this past spring when complaints about some of the participants and controversy over charging people to attend future gatherings forced its cancellation. Happily, a nearby gathering in Raleigh still goes on.

Cars and Coffee
You never know what will show up including this Jaguar.

Cars Coffee Gatherings

To my knowledge, no Cars Coffee meet up involves paying a fee to “show and tell” and that is what attendees prefer. Yes, volunteers are needed and a local business must agree to host what is typically a meet involving hundreds of cars.

What Cars and Coffee host site businesses understand is that you can create a tremendous amount of goodwill by sponsoring an event. Indeed, you stand to pull in much business especially if there is a place to eat onsite with delicious coffee served, of course.

Cars and Coffee got started in Southern California (where else?) and then spread like wildfire across the country, indeed throughout the world. There is no official sanctioning body in keeping with the informal nature of these gatherings. As for its history, the best information about its origins can be found on the Katie’s Cars Coffee website.

Cars & Coffee
Mopar madness at a Fayetteville, NC, gathering.

Word of Mouth

How do you find a Cars Coffee gathering in your area? Generally, by word of mouth. You can also type in “Cars and Coffee [your town name]” to find one in your area. A Google search may work out fine, but you should also search on Facebook.

When on Facebook, you may find a gathering and learn that the page has not been updated in some time. That can indicate that the meet up is no longer taking place. If contact information is provided, then reach out to the organizer for current information. You will want to ask about other gatherings too.

Most Cars and Coffee gatherings are held on a fixed Saturday once a month — the first, second, third or fourth Saturday, for instance. In some areas, such as in Las Vegas, gatherings are held every Saturday.

In more northerly locations meet ups may be suspended during the winter, typically starting up in April or May and running until Sept. or Oct. It is up to the local organizer on just how these gatherings are held and when.

Cars & Coffee
A roof top view of the first Cars and Coffee Raleigh Grande meet up.

Classic, Exotic and Future Models

What attracts many people to Cars and Coffee is the assortment of models that show up. There are regular attendees who bring their usual rides each month, with not a few showing off the customizations they recently completed.

Even so, it is often the exotic, classic or even future model that creates the most buzz. I was a happy participant of creating much buzz in Feb. 2014 when my press fleet rotation featured a 2015 Subaru WRX. What was special about that model is that it was both all-new and it was given to me several months before its public release.

I promptly visited CC Cary with the WRX and was welcomed by adoring Subie faithful who inspected it closely.

Some gatherings emphasize the exotics and other high end models, while others welcome whatever car you are driving. Figure that the more popular a Cars and Coffee gathering is, the more likely the unusual will show up. That also creates a problem for some organizers who may tell people with more mundane rides to park their cars elsewhere.

With limited number of space available, a Prius taking the spot away from a classic AMC Javelin might not be welcome. Again, that depends on the venue — some gatherings welcome whatever you are driving.

Cars and Coffee
This Ford roadster was spotted at Cars and Coffee in the Sandhills.
Matthew Keegan

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