Much of the Raleigh scene after 10 PM is limited either to bars or very posh places that look down their nose at you if you're in jeans. And if you just want a good cup of espresso and your friend wants a White Russian, but neither of you want to smell like an ashtray at the end of the night, where can you go?
Cafe Cyclo in Cameron Village, that's where. Serving light food (sandwiches with a Southeast Asian bent, mostly), full coffee and bar selections until 2 AM, along with a very random mix of music, seating types and people, this cafe is many things to many people. I've met friends there for dinner, taken my daughter there for coffee while on the way back to her dorm, and taken the Mrs. out for coffee and conversation. I've also gone there late when I wanted to work online, but didn't want to sit at home when everyone else was out of town. The WiFi is free and stable, the music, while a bit on the loud side, is consistently interesting (I've heard everything from trance electronica to Big Band Swing to World and Latin mixes), and makes any conversation private.
Seating varies from a covered sidewalk space on metal tables, to standard wooden chairs and tables inside, to over-stuffed chairs and sofas in a "conversation pit" arrangement, all under a pleasing low light that's adequate for reading, but not glaring. There's also a bar that seats maybe 8.
The clientele ranges from youngish professionals to college students. With the bar comes some age restrictions indoors, so the high school gangs that haunt other coffee shops are kept at bay, or at least outside.
Give it a try, next time you're needing a coffee fix as you get started on that all-nighter. You may find a new study spot.