The craft coffee craze is taking the world by storm, with some experts predicting craft coffee will be the next big boom industry. With its growing array of eclectic coffee houses, roasters and cafes and a coffee festival, there will be no shortage of high-end spots for coffee drinkers to get their fix during their next getaway to Wilmington and Island Beaches.
2020 Wilmington Coffee Festival
Fully embracing its coffee culture, the inaugural Wilmington Coffee Fest will take place on Feb. 1. Organized by local coffee professionals and hosted by Waterline Brewing Co., the festival will celebrate all things coffee and will bring together the region’s finest purveyors of coffee, roasters and distributors. Mark your calendar to experience demonstrations and competitions, hear from coffee experts and mingle with shops, roasters and bakers about how what makes their respective cups of joe so delicious.
Good Vibes Only
If you’re looking for a local favorite that specializes in relaxed vibes and high-quality espresso, then Bespoke Coffee & Dry Goods is the place for you. Located in the heart of downtown Wilmington, Bespoke is known as a hotspot for local artists, making this cozy coffee house a must-visit for coffee lovers looking to fulfill their need for the crafted North Carolina beans in a chill environment. For a flavorful boost of caffeine, order the Cubano Espresso Tonic or Black and Tan Affogato.
When it comes to enjoying a delicious cup of coffee and supporting a good cause, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee is the place to be. Bitty and Beau’s employs individuals with a variety of intellectual and developmental disabilities, giving them the opportunity to find meaningful and gainful employment. The shop that invites customers to share coffee and conversation and see people differently has received national attention from “TODAY,” “Rachael Ray” (it’s the official coffee for the show), CNN, “Good Morning America” and more. Founder Amy Wright was also named the 2017 CNN Hero of the Year for her advocacy and dedication to making the world a better place for those living with disabilities.
Not Your Average Joe
Lucky Joe Craft Coffee brews its coffee in small batches, taking extra time to create that deep, rich coffee flavor. To give it an extra kick, they then infuse their brews with nitrogen to produce some of the best nitro cold brew around.
Stop by downtown Wilmington’s original coffee shop, 24 South Coffee House, for a cup of great locally roasted coffee. This historic, dog-friendly craft coffee spot is a great place to relax after a day spent exploring the city. Or, visit one of the city’s newest coffee joints, Casa Blanca, where coffee roasting takes place in the store for customers to see how their coffee is made and learn a thing or two about the process.
Grinders Caffe’ is a homey locale that serves local roast coffee on tap and hosts weekly open mic nights for local artists. Luna Caffe, located in the Castle Street Arts & Antiques District, also invites local musicians to perform for patrons who can get the ultimate caffeine boost from the coffee shop’s unique specialties like the vanilla lavender latte. To further share his love of coffee, the owner recently opened Wilmington’s fourth roastery for customers to enjoy the freshest beans. While the roastery is not open to the public, coffee fans can sign up for tours and “cuppings” – coffee tastings in which participants are invited to observe the change in aroma and flavor during different phases of the brewing process.
Pair your coffee with a good book at Zola Coffee & Tea, located inside Pomegranate Books in Wilmington. Zola offers artisanal coffee roasted on-site, served up in a cheerful, laidback atmosphere.
Coffee with a Treat
Located in Wilmington’s South Front District in a beautifully refurbished house, Love, Lydia Bakery & Cafe offers customers the option to pair their craft coffee beverage of choice with a plethora of handmade pastries. Love, Lydia is the place to get a rare Vietnamese iced coffee made from 1,000 Faces of Coffee and fresh, seasonal bites. Pair your beverage with favorites like breakfast tacos, bruleed grapefruit or liege waffles. Don’t get your heart set on one menu item though: The bakery and café change its menu seasonally.
If you enjoy more savory options, head to Drift Coffee & Kitchen that serves breakfast, lunch and inventive spins on specialty coffee. The café was founded on the premise of stripping back the unnecessary and serves simple, fresh, holistic food and beverages. When in town, try the Iced Black Amber paired with one of the three toasts – banana, salmon or avocado – or a Market Bowl Breakfast.
Celebrating its founding in Wilmington 25 years ago, Port City Java now has over a dozen retail locations throughout the city, plus two roasting locations, guaranteeing a fresh cup of joe every time. Handpicked coffee beans from Fair Trade and Organic make for a truly delicious blend of coffee that expertly pairs with the java hut’s selection of baked goods, breakfast and lunch items from scones and muffins to wraps and breakfast sandwiches.
Wilmington’s nearby island beaches – Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville – are also in on the craft coffee craze. Sip on a handcrafted cold brew coffee from a “top secret recipe” while lounging in a comfortable and rustic atmosphere at Crush & Grind, a café-based wine and bottle shop in Carolina Beach. For a groovy coffee experience, head to Happy Hippies Java Hut in Kure Beach. Steps away from the Kure Beach Fishing Pier, the island’s first coffee shop invites visitors to choose from frappes, cold brews, lattes and Mermaid Magic – a secret espresso-based recipe that will have your taste buds zinging with glee. In Wrightsville Beach, venture to The Workshop where you can indulge in craft coffee while perusing handmade Megalodon shark teeth jewelry. Or, to enjoy the sunrise with a cup of joe, stop by SUNday’s Cafe located above the South End Surf Shop, just a block from the ocean.